Life Advocacy Briefing

February 22, 2010

Message to the Summitees / Super Impact / Shrinking Industry
Voter Registration Drive Fostered / Taking Care of People, Not Problems
Speaking for Life

Message to the Summitees

AS OUR REPRESENTATIVES IN CONGRESS PREPARE to subject themselves to the President’s “bipartisan” offensive on “health care,” an ad hoc coalition of pro-life organizations – including Life Advocacy – last Thursday sent a letter to all Republican lawmakers who will attend the so-called White House Healthcare Summit.

The letter, organized by Marjorie Danenfelser of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, urges legislators to hold to their support of the Stupak/Pitts/Hyde Amendment, which explicitly excludes abortion from tax funding of medical care, reminding them that the public is overwhelmingly “oppose[d to] using public funds to subsidize abortion in the name of ‘health care.’ … The American people want clear language,” the letter reminds our lawmakers, “to prevent the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion or any healthcare plans that cover abortion.” Amen!

We would add that any government funding of medical care diminishes freedom, and universal coverage would institute a fiscally unsustainable system which would inevitably – and quickly – lead to rationing, stripping the right to life from vulnerable Americans who may be most in need of the very medical care they would be denied. (It would also further establish the fiscally unsustainable magnet which contributes substantially to America’s illegal immigration challenge.)

The only right answer to ObamaCare is a sustained “no” from every Member of Congress. Courage, folks! Now is no time to seek “common ground,” and the extremist in the White House is no one to capitulate to.


Super Impact

FULLY 6% OF SUPERBOWL VIEWERS who watched Focus on the Family’s celebrated ad featuring football great Tim Tebow and his heroic mother “said it made them reconsider their views on abortion, according to a study by the Barna Group,” taken one week after the telecast, reports Steve Jordahl for Focus on the Family’s Citizen Link electronic news service.

“That comes out,” notes Mr. Jordahl, “to about five million people.”

The 30-second spot implies the drama in the Tebow family crisis and directs viewers to the Focus website ( for the full story of Pam Tebow’s courage in resisting her doctor’s insistence that she abort her baby to save her own life.

We encourage our readers to let the Lord inspire you by watching this 10-minute testimony of His sovereign grace.


Shrinking Industry

THOUGH PLANNED PARENTHOOD’s OPENING OF NEW MEGABORTUARIES is troubling to pro-life citizens overall and specifically to the citizenry in the towns where they are sited, Operation Rescue (OR) is noting a contrary, more encouraging trend.

“The number of abortion clinics in America continues to decline,” OR president Troy Newman reported in a Feb. 15 news release.

OR released a report in December, the release notes, showing “over two-thirds of the nation’s abortion clinics have closed in the past 18 years. During the past two months,” the group says, “five more abortion clinics have closed. During that same time,” notes the release, “only two new abortion clinics have opened,” bringing the total number of abortuaries in America to 710, down from the 713 listed in its December report.

Mr. Newman cited the state and federal tax subsidies given Planned Parenthood to open the new super mills in Houston, Texas, and Portland, Oregon. “It is very clear,” he said, “that the only abortion group expanding its business is Planned Parenthood, and the only reason it can do so is with the help of our tax dollars,” he said. “Because demand for abortions has decreased,” adds the release, “it is more than likely that the new PP super mills will put smaller clinics in the Houston and Portland areas out of business.”

The five abortuaries closed since December, notes the release, were in Florida, Michigan, New York and Ohio. The news about the closures, said Mr. Newman, “emphasizes the need to defund Planned Parenthood nationwide. Without being artificially supported with our tax dollars,” he said, “Planned Parenthood would be closing clinics, not building new ones.”


Voter Registration Drive Fostered

CHURCH-BASED VOTER REGISTRATION TOOLS are available at a new Internet website to aid church leaders in offering proper, non-partisan registration opportunities and to aid churchgoers in persuading their leaders to participate in a nationwide drive.

Weekends designated by the Political Responsibility Coalition for voter registration drives are March 14, May 23, July 4 and Sept. 12.

The coalition was initiated by Priests for Life and includes Anglicans for Life, Wallbuilders,, Life Coalition International, Susan B. Anthony List, among others.

“Enabling people to register to vote,” said Priests for Life director Fr. Frank Pavone in a news release announcing the coalition, “is a noble way to exercise and foster responsible citizenship. This activity on the part of churches and other tax-exempt entities is fully permitted by civil law and fully consistent with the Gospel mandate to change the world. The purpose of our coalition,” said Fr. Pavone, “is to motivate and encourage leaders to engage in activities like this.” He said the coalition would facilitate the activities but that local churches and organizations would need to “actually carry out the work.”


Taking Care of People, Not Problems

Feb. 12, 2010, commentary by Ken Connor, chairman, Center for a Just Society

Three years ago, the medical community was stunned when Rom Houben – diagnosed to have been in a persistent vegetative state [PVS] since a horrific car crash in 1983 – was discovered to be fully conscious and aware. Unable to speak or communicate, he’d lived as a prisoner in his own body for over two decades. Doctors had performed test after test, concluding repeatedly that Houben’s consciousness was “extinct.” It took 23 years for technology to prove that the opposite was true: Houben’s brain was not dead, and his consciousness was not extinct. “I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me[,” he said.] “It was my second birth.”

Many Americans have never heard of Rom Houben, but you would be hard pressed to find an American who hasn’t heard of Terri Schiavo.

On March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo died, almost two weeks after the tube that provided her with nutrition and hydration was removed by court order. After collapsing in her home in 1990, Terri was diagnosed to be in a persistent vegetative state. The battle betweeen Terri’s husband and her parents over whether to remove life support put Terri’s story at the center of national attention, igniting a firestom of debate.

Proponents of removing Terri’s feeding tube generally offered three arguments for why ending her life was the ethical choice. Citing “expert” medical opinion, they emphasized that Terri was profoundly handicapped with no hope of recovery; therefore, there was no real “point” in sustaining her life. Next, they argued that since Terri lacked any conscious awareness of her surroundings, she wasn’t really alive any more – at least not in any way that counted. Finally, they argued that Terri’s condition made her unable to feel pain and were therefore dismissive of the gruesome suffering that would otherwise accompany her starvation and dehydration.

The advocates of her death prevailed, and Terri Schiavo finally exited this life – gaunt and hollow-eyed, with parched lips and tongue – after having been deprived of food and fluids for 13 days.

Perhaps no one has more cause to be horrified by Terri’s story than Rom Houben and others like him. His incredible story of rebirth could easily have been a forgotten tragedy of silent suffering and death. After years and years of testing, it was only thanks to one final test, one last chance, that Rom Houben’s life was saved. A new report published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month confirms that there are, indeed, many others like Rom Houben – individuals deemed cognitively “extinct” whose humanity was vindicated at last.

In response to this new study, Terri Schiavo’s brother Bobby [Schindler] laments the fact that his sister wasn’t permitted that one last test, questions the wisdom of standard “bedside” evaluations for brain activity and encourages other families facing these kinds of situations to ensure that their loved one is tested thoroughly before making irreversible life and death decisions:

“As in the case of my sister, they’re using this diagnosis as a criterion to kill. … Nobody should have to earn the right to hydration. We should do everything we can to care for these people, regardless of how responsive or unresponsive they are. … We are morally obligated to care for these people. They should stop any further dehydration deaths, because we’re learning how inaccurate the PVS diagnosis is.”

Thanks to the work of the physicians that conducted this new study, we now know that our idea of what it means to be in a persistent vegetative state may be radically inaccurate. It’s entirely possible that the “professionals” that passed judgment upon Terri were wrong in their assessment of her level of awareness. But even if they weren’t – even if Terri lacked conscious awareness – her handicap should not have resulted in the revocation of her membership in the human family.

As creatures created in God’s image, our “humanity” is unalterable, even though we are subject to change. Our humanity is not contingent upon our mental or physical fitness – at least, it shouldn’t be. We have worth, value and dignity – not because of our capacities or achievements – but because the Creator made us and gave Himself for us. Yet every day in America, what it means to be human is being redefined according to ever-evolving, ever-narrowing “quality of life” criteria which treat the unborn, the elderly and the infirm as little more than “resource hogs” or “lifestyle impediments.” More and more, these individuals’ right to exist is being assessed in light of “functional capacity studies” and “cost-benefit analyses.”

This utilitarian mindset was evident in the rationale of those who maintained that Terri’s poor prognosis, lack of awareness and inability to feel pain disqualified her from the right to basic nutrition and hydration. By their way of thinking, the only logical solution to the “problem” posed by her continued existence was to end it.

This utilitarian approach to life and death issues represents an impoverished view of humanity and poses a grave threat to the future of civilization – especially to the weak, the frail and the vulnerable. As human beings, our right to life should never be subject to a litmus test. Our net worth is far more than the sum of our assets and liabilities. Furthermore, we are obligated by our very humanity to care for the weak and frail among us.

If we live long enough, the day will likely come when each of us will rely on someone else to care for us. I, for one, hope that when that day comes, I live in a world that looks at me and sees a person, not a “problem.”


Speaking for Life

Concluding our transcripts of the rally speeches delivered by Members of the US House and Senate to the massive crowd assembled Jan. 22, 2010, for the March for Life in Washington, DC; transcribed by Life Advocacy Briefing from recorded-live video coverage.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI): Hi. I’m Congressman Thaddeus McCotter from Michigan’s 11th Congressional District. It is an honor to be here with you today, as we peaceably assemble, not in an act of opposition but in a labor of love. Not in a partisan cause but in a human cause: To birth and nurture a culture of life founded upon the self-evident, inalienable truth that all of God’s children are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Through your efforts, as we have heard, a majority of the American nation is pro-life, and yet in the shadows of the Capitol we can see that there, a majority of the politicians are pro-abortion. And with this disconnection, we are reminded of what Lincoln taught us, that as a nation, a house divided against itself cannot stand. And what we need in this country now is for a rededication of our efforts to prevail in nurturing the culture of life, in defending the unborn and again ensuring that we, when history looks back upon us, will be recalled as was said in the book of Daniel: “But the wise will shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be as the stars forever.” Shine on in the cause of Life. God bless you, and may God continue to grace, guide and guard our United States of America.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX): Howdy. I’m Randy Neugebauer from the great state of Texas. Are there any pro-life people here from Texas? You are such an encouragement to us that are in the fight on the front line on behalf of Life. We’re fighting right along with you, and thank you for taking this stand on the sanctity of Life. You know, the very first picture I ever had of my first grandson was a sonogram, and I saw that little figure, that little body inside my daughter-in-law’s womb, and I wrote that grandson a letter that night. I said, “I saw you for the very first time today, and how beautiful you are,” because you remember our Lord and God said we are fearfully and wonderfully made. And we must not give up this fight. We cannot give up this fight. We will not give up this fight, because this is the most important fight that we’re engaged in. Thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for being here for Life, and God bless you and God bless America.

Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN): Thank you all for being here. I’m Phil Roe from the great state of Tennessee, one of the most pro-life conservative states in the Union. I knew it was cold when I came down here, because I saw two politicians on the side of the road and they had both their hands in their own pockets! When I had a real job, my real job in life was over 30 years of practicing Ob-Gyn Obstetrics and Gynecology in Johnson City, Tennessee, where I delivered almost 5,000 babies. I want to tell you all this: that life, and you know this, is a precious gift from God, a precious gift from our God. And I will tell you, our God, Who knows us before we were ever born, will not continue to bless this nation if we do not stop this abomination called abortion. No doubt about it. I want to thank you all for being here, for helping stop this healthcare bill that had the pro-abortion parts in it. I can’t thank you enough for that, and from the bottom of my heart, the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here on this very cold day and for standing for Life. May God bless each and every one of you all.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH): Good afternoon, pro-life Americans. I’m Congresswoman Jean Schmidt from the great state of Ohio, and I represent Cincinnati, the birthplace of the Right to Life movement. Thirty-nine years ago, Dr. Jack Willke was sitting at the table with his wife Barbara, and she was concerned about the issues of abortion. They said, “We have to do something.” And she said, “Jack, every child has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – born and unborn.” And he said, “Barbara, that’s the name of our movement – Right to Life.” I tell you that because every one of us has the power to make a difference – the power of one multiplied by hundreds of thousands of you today. Here, marching on Washington, reminding us that the Constitution says we all have the right to life. Thank you for your courage, your dedication, and most of all for loving America and loving our Lord. God bless you, God bless the United States of America, and God protect the unborn.

Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA): Good afternoon. I’m Congressman G.T. Thompson from the state of Pennsylvania. It is such an honor to join so many champions who are here fighting to defend innocent life. As we speak, the number of abortions completed in America has decreased from 10 years ago. Because of your action, your leadership and your faith, the abortionists are losing. We stand together on this day and every day for those who have no voice, for those whose basic right to be born has been cruelly denied. We stand today united on the principles put forth formally and soundly by the founders of this wonderful nation that every American, born and yet to be born, has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God bless you for your journey today and every day in defending the right to life. And thank you for the privilege of marching with you today. And God bless the unborn.

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