Life Advocacy Briefing

May 17, 2010


Supreme Court Nominee: Elena Kagan / Self-Inflicted Wounds
Leading for Life / This Should Settle It / Redefining Humanity

Supreme Court Nominee: Elena Kagan

THE WHITE HOUSE LAST WEEK ANNOUNCED THE NOMINATION of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court vacancy created by the announced retirement of Justice John Stevens.

The nominee, who has never served as a judge, is known to be a determined advocate for abortion. What else would one expect from Barack Obama? Elections do have consequences. But his supposed prerogative to anoint nominees of his choosing does not absolve the US Senate – given by our Constitution the power to “advise and consent” to nominees (or, implicitly) to withhold consent from nominees – of the responsibility to examine and assess the qualifications and suitability of judicial nominees and key executive-branch officials.

Here’s a first glance at the woman Mr. Obama seeks to install in a lifetime post as one among just nine in the highest court of the land: “[Miss] Kagan’s relative youth (50) is a huge asset for the lifetime post,” writes Mike Allen for “And Pres. Obama,” continues Mr. Allen, “considers her to be a persuasive, fearless advocate who would serve as an intellectual counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia and could lure swing Justice [Anthony] Kennedy into some coalitions” on key opinions.

Planned Parenthood has endorsed her appointment, according to Fox News. And no wonder! “[Miss] Kagan is known for strongly favoring taxpayer-funded abortion,” writes Kathleen Gilbert for, “and is a critic of the 1991 Supreme Court decision Rust v. Sullivan, which upheld federal regulations prohibiting Title X family planning fund recipients from counseling on or referring for abortion. Americans United for Life also reports,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “that [Miss] Kagan once suggested that faith-based groups should not counsel pregnant youths, for fear that they would include their religious beliefs in the counseling process.” How whacked out can one get?

Whacked out enough to have blocked military recruiters from pursuing their duty on the Harvard Law School campus while she was the school’s dean. The supposed basis for her action was her personal objection to the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy which bars homosexuals from acting out on their sexual impulses while in the service of their country.

Will Senators ask Miss Kagan tough questions? Miss Kagan herself, in a 1995 paper, has suggested perhaps they should. “She criticized the confirmation process” in that paper, reports Nathan Black for The Christian Post, “as a ‘vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis.’ She also,” writes Mr. Black, “criticized Senators for engaging in ‘a peculiar ritual dance, in which they propound their own views on constitutional law but neither hope nor expect the nominee to respond in like manner.’”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the nominee reviewing Senate Judiciary Committee, told Miss Kagan last Thursday, reports Congressional Quarterly’s Political News, “that she had read [Miss] Kagan’s 1995 Chicago Law Review book review about the judicial confirmation process. … Describing the articles as ‘very provocative,’ [Sen.] Collins joked,” writes the CQ reporter, “that Senators should apply the ‘Kagan standard’ to [Miss] Kagan herself.”


Self-Inflicted Wounds

TWO VETERAN U.S. LAWMAKERS WERE TOPPLED in bids for renomination last week.

In Utah, Sen. Robert Bennett was defeated for renomination in a state Republican Party convention whose delegates viewed him as insufficiently conservative. Though generally seen as “pro-life,” Sen. Bennett has developed a squishy voting record in the last two Congresses, achieving no better than a “mostly pro-life” rating on Life Advocacy’s Senate Voting Record Index. His state-mate, Sen. Orrin Hatch, has a pro-life record closely matching Sen. Bennett’s but not quite as good. The Bennett defeat was seen by many as a warning not only to incumbents generally but to Sen. Hatch in particular; his current term ends in two years.

Democratic voters in West Virginia’s 1st District nominated State Sen. Mike Oliverio with 56% of the primary vote, turning out Rep. Allan Mollohan, who pulled 44% of the vote.

Rep. Mollohan was one of the usually “pro-life” Democrats who fell into line behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand that House Democrats vote for the Senate version of ObamaCare.  Rep. Mollohan insisted, along with Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) and a handful of other “pro-life” Democrats, that the Senate language protects American taxpayers from subsidizing abortion; but the claim is not true, and State Sen. Oliverio used his ObamaCare vote against the 28-year incumbent.

The Democrats’ new 1st District nominee will face former GOP chairman David McKinley, in November; Mr. McKinley, also a former state Republican legislator, is considered a conservative and said, reports Associated Press writer Vicki Smith, “[Rep.] Mollohan’s ouster is about more than spending. ‘People just didn’t like what was happening in Washington,’ he said,” quoted by AP. “The ouctome,” writes Ms. Smith, “is a referendum on [Pres.] Obama’s policies, from bailouts of banks and takeovers of car companies to healthcare reform. ‘It’s clear this is not the agenda they wanted,’ [Del.] McKinley said of West Virginia voters. ‘This,’” he said in the AP story, “‘wasn’t the change they envisioned.’”

Abortion coverage in the ObamaCare package was a major issue in the West Virginia race, according to Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, quoted by AP. “‘We promised Rep. Mollohan and the other “pro-life” Democrats that we would make their re-election incredibly painful if they voted “yes” on the healthcare bill,’” said Mrs. Dannenfelser, whose group spent some $78,000 in the West Virginia district, according to AP, and “made 80,000 prerecorded phone calls on [State Sen.] Oliverio’s behalf Monday and Tuesday.” National Right to Life Committee also endorsed Mr. Oliverio in the primary, according to AP.


Leading for Life

FOURTEEN U.S. REPRESENTATIVES HAVE SENT A LETTER TO THE PENTAGON demanding an explanation of the Defense Department’s decision to order pharmacies on US military bases – stateside and abroad – to stock the “morning-after pill,” citing concerns, reports Peter J. Smith for, “over the health effects [the abortifacient drug] may have on female soldiers, conscience protections and the potential for exploitation of minors.”

The letter was initiated by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and co-signed by GOP Representatives Trent Franks (AZ), Doug Lamborn (CO), Donald Manzullo (IL), Mark Souder & Mike Pence (IN), Pete Hoekstra (MI), Todd Akin (MO), Chris Smith (NJ), Robert Latta & Jim Jordan (OH), Joseph Pitts (PA), J. Gresham Barrett (SC) and Pete Olson (TX).

In the letter, reports LifeSite’s Mr. Smith, “the Congressmen said that they had several serious concerns with the policy’s implementation. First, they noted that the FDA panel giving initial approval to Plan B ‘cautioned that repeated use of the potent steroid regimen could have adverse health consequences for women and girls. This concern,” they wrote, reported by Mr. Smith, “remains unresolved.’

“They further noted the abortifacient quality of Plan B,” writes Mr. Smith, “which raises further concerns over ‘the adequacy of informed consent standards regarding the communication of Plan B’s potential abortifacient effects to prospective users.’

“Because Plan B is available over the counter,” LifeSite reports, “the Congressmen also noted with concern that minors could get hold of the drug from someone over 17 years old, raising further issues about how the drug could be used to hide statutory rape or sexual exploitation.”


This Should Settle It

May 13, 2010, report by Kathleen Gilbert for LifeSiteNews, copyright

While Solicitor General Elena Kagan has been touted by many in the media as a “moderate” pick for the Supreme Court, even on the volatile issue of abortion, Kagan has revealed her pro-abortion loyalties by contributing financially to the pro-abortion National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF), reported Americans United for Life (AUL) Wednesday.

NPWF, according to its own website, works “to increase women’s access to quality, confidential reproductive health services and blocks attempts to limit reproductive rights and reverse hard-won gains.” The organization goes on to specify “contraceptive services and supplies, sexuality education, [and] abortion services” as among its top concerns.

In addition, wrote AUL, NPWF senior advisor Judith Lichtman “wholeheartedly” supported Kagan’s nomination in a letter, saying the Solicitor General was a “friend and colleague.” Lichtman, a radical supporter of abortion, has said that “efforts to limit coverage of abortion services are really attempts to deny women access to healthcare services,” according to AUL.

NPWF has deep connections among the most powerful pro-abortion lobby groups in the country: NPWF president Debra L. Ness serves on the board of directors at Emily’s List, a group dedicated to helping pro-abortion female politicians win elections, and once worked as deputy director of NARAL. NPWF board chairwoman Ellen Malcolm was the founder of Emily’s List.

Following Kagan’s nomination, Ness hailed the nominee as “a superb and brilliant choice to serve as a United States Supreme Court Justice.”

Ness added that America lost “a powerful champion for justice” in Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the radically liberal justice Kagan is slated to replace, and that “Pres. Obama’s nomination … offers the promise that the nation will continue to benefit from having that kind of champion on its highest court.”

“Through her association with this group and articles she has written, Kagan has staked out a clear position of active support for unrestricted abortion,” remarked Charmaine Yoest, president of AUL Action.

Kagan is currently interviewing privately with US Senators prior to her confirmation hearings, expected to begin in June or July.


Redefining Humanity

May 12, 2010, Breakpoint with Charles Colson, copyright Prison Fellowship Ministries

A letter recently published in the prestigious journal Nature told readers about a technique that could potentially “prevent a number of incurable genetic diseases.” But, as is often the case, exploiting the potential comes at a cost – like redefining what it means to be human.

The letter bore the innocuous sounding title “Pronuclear Transfer in Human Embryos to Prevent Transmission of Mitochondrial DNA Disease.”

Mitochondria are important parts of the cell because, among other things, they produce a chemical called ATP. And ATP provides usable energy for the cell. Mitochondria have their own DNA, which is passed from mother to child.

Illnesses associated with mitochrondrial defects are serious and incurable. They include, to name but a few, heart, kidney and liver disease, diabetes and dementia.

The researchers’ method of preventing these diseases was to first use in vitro fertilization to produce human zygotes. A zygote is a single cell that forms when a sperm cell and an egg fuse. These zygotes had defective mitochondrial DNA, which they inherited from the mother.

They then repeated the process, only this time using a female donor without the defect. This left them with two sets of zygotes – one healthy, one not.

What the researchers basically did was replace the defective mitochondria in one zygote with the healthy mitochondria of the other. The result, the letter declares, was “a seemingly healthy cell with the genetic identity” of the first couple “and the mitochondria of the second woman.”

In other words, it produced a child who, genetically speaking, really does have two mommies.

Gerald Nadal, a molecular biologist, asked the question we should all be asking: “What have we done to ourselves?” Instead of being begotten, “children are manufactured in in vitro fertilization clinics … the composite of two mothers and one father.”

This “Frankenstein’s baby” came about, Nadal says, “through the destruction of two humans … [and] is a composite of its two destroyed progenitors.”

Our laudable desire to reduce suffering has led us to sacrifice our human dignity and identity.

C.S. Lewis wouldn’t be surprised. In The Abolition of Man, he warned that “the conquest of Nature, if the dreams of some scientific planners are realized, means the rule of a few hundreds of men over billions upon billions of men. … The power of Man to make himself what he pleases means … the power of some men to make other men what they please.”

In the name of reducing suffering, we have indeed opened a door to “the abolition of Man.” We are on our way to making human life customizable like a new sofa.

And instead of having intrinsic value as men and women made in the image of God, our worth will be a function of how we conform to someone else’s expectations. And that will be a condition no researcher can prevent.

[A couple of observations from Life Advocacy Briefing’s editor: 1) The very essence of ethics is restraint – whether self- or other-imposed – on what should be done, without regard to what could be done. 2) Though debates have continued to rage over “embryo stem cell research” – in part because most in the pro-life community insists on using that terminology instead of clear, less positive language (e.g. “experimentation on embryonic human beings”) – our elected and movement leaders have forgotten to deal with cloning, though the public instinctively opposes it and would overwhelmingly back a ban. So, it appears from the above, the Genie is now out of the bottle.]

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