Life Advocacy Briefing

August 8, 2011

Taking a Break / Elections Have Consequences / ‘Fig Leaf’ / Chilling Political Discourse
/ Not Ripe Yet / Action in Foreign Affairs / Florida Governor Advances Cause /
So Does Russia’s President! / Striking a Blow for Freedom

Taking a Break

NOT ONLY IS OUR EDITOR TRAVELING, but now it turns out our tech guy is going to be on vacation next week as well. So do not expect Life Advocacy Briefing next week. Congress is in recess and, for one week, we are, too!


Elections Have Consequences

THE OBAMA REGIME MADE IT OFFICIAL LAST MONDAY with the announcement by Health & Human Services Secy. Kathleen Sebelius that HHS was proceeding with a regulation mandating private health insurers to cover contraceptives. The mandate, reports the Associated Press (AP), “will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, in most cases.” Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, reports in his Aug. 2 Washington Update that the mandate will start next August.

Could the radical new regulation have its roots in long-time Sebelius buddy Planned Parenthood, which bills not only taxpayers but also private health insurers for its chemical promiscuity promotion tools?

Included in the coverage mandate are such clearly abortifacient chemicals as “Ella” and “Plan B,” commonly known as “the morning-after pill.” Such chemicals are clearly optional and are designed to protect against consequences from behavioral decisions. Yet every insurance customer in America will now be required to subsidize the behavior of others as well as subsidizing the killing of babies who have been conceived but are not yet known by their parents.

The new rule also mandates coverage, reports Kathleen Gilbert for, for “elective sterilizations.”

The anti-natal rule further requires insurers to cover the entire cost without assessing co-pays or applying deductibles, giving contraceptives priority above actual therapeutic medications.

“‘It amounts to a federal decree that pregnancy is a disease,’” said Arland Nichols, national director of Human Life International / America, quoted by LifeSiteNews, “‘and that children are an enemy of the health and well-being of women.’”

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins points out, too, “that the costs of this ‘contraception’ will … drive up premiums, making people’s insurance more expensive, not less so.”


‘Fig Leaf’

TUCKED INTO THE CONTROVERSIAL CONTRACEPTION MANDATE is a narrowly defined “conscience” clause.

“In a nod to social and religious conservatives,” writes Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar for AP, “the rules issued Monday by [Secy.] Sebelius include a provision that would allow religious institutions to opt out of offering birth control coverage.”

Though calling the conscience provision “‘a step in the right direction,’” Jeanne Monahan, identified by the AP writer as “a policy expertfor the conservative Family Research Council,” said, quoted by Mr. Zaldivar, “‘It’s not enough.’ … As it now stands, the conscience clause offers only a ‘fig leaf’ of protection, she added,” reports AP, “because it may not cover faith-based groups engaged in social action and other activities that do not involve worship.”

Roman Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the “‘religious exemption’ … so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,’” reports Kathleen Gilbert for

“USCCB Communications Director Sr. Mary Ann Walsh was more blunt,” writes Miss Gilbert. “Health & Human Services must think Catholics and other religious groups are fools,’ wrote [Sr.] Walsh on USCCB communications blog [last] Monday,” Miss Gilbert reports. The two USCCB spokesmen, reports LifeSiteNews, “explained that the supposed exemption – allowed only for religious organizations primarily employing and serving members of its own faith – was so narrow that it excluded most Catholic agencies and healthcare providers. ‘HHS’s [regulation] conveniently ignores the underlying principle of Catholic charitable actions,’” wrote Sr. Walsh, quoted by Miss Gilbert. “‘We help people because we are Catholic, not because our clients are. There’s no need to show your baptismal certificate in the hospital emergency room, the parish food pantry or the diocesan drug rehab program.’”

Asked Cardinal DiNardo, quoted by LifeSiteNews, “‘Could the federal government possibly intend to pressure Catholic institutions to cease providing health care, education and charitable services to the general public?’”

Besides, what about the consciences of individuals whose premiums and taxes will be helping pay for others’ coverage? An adequate “conscience clause” would obviate the entire rule.

“‘Whatever you think of artificial birth control,’” said Sr. Walsh, quoted by Miss Gilbert, “‘HHS’s command that everyone, including churches, must pay for it exalts ideology over conscience and common sense.’”


Chilling Political Discourse

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE TIMOTHY BLACK HAS REFUSED TO DISMISS the defamation lawsuit against the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) brought by ex-Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH).

The litigation is based on Mr. Driehaus’s claim that SBA lied about his record when SBA prepared billboard ads – which were never posted – charging he had voted for taxpayer-funded abortion. In so charging, SBA cites the Driehaus vote for ObamaCare, which does not expressly bar abortion coverage in its mandated, taxpayer-subsidized high-risk insurance pools.

Judge Black does not see the potential for taxpayers to be billed for abortions through the pools and based his preliminary decision on that question rather than protecting the SBA’s First Amendment right to evaluate and warn the public about Mr. Driehaus’s vote. Judge Black is the same Ohio-based Obama-appointed federal judge who has upheld ObamaCare in a separate lawsuit.

The central question in the Driehaus lawsuit is whether American citizens are free to criticize their public officials.  Mr. Driehaus was a Member of Congress at the time the pro-life campaign operation announced it would post the billboards in opposing his re-election campaign in 2010.  The Ohio Democrat had claimed a pro-life position in gaining his seat in 2008.

A question for our readers: Would you characterize a lawmaker who voted against the Pence Amendment on July 24, 2009, as “pro-life?” (The Pence Amendment, readers should recall, is an effort to bar Planned Parenthood from the federal government’s Title Ten “family planning” funding.)

He lost in 2010 and filed the lawsuit claiming, reports Judson Berger for, “the group ‘disseminated lies’ about him, effectively costing him his job – as well as inflicting ‘reputational’ and ‘economic’ harm.” Translation: SBA denied him the Congressional seat to which he was entitled.


Not Ripe Yet

THOUGH LAST WEEK WE ASKED READERS TO CALL members of the House Committee on Appropriations concerning the Fiscal Year 2012 spending bill for State, Foreign Operations & Related Programs, it turns out the committee did not meet to mark up the bill during last week’s abbreviated session.

Both the House and the Senate focused on the so-called “debt deal” legislation, and little other business was accomplished before Members went back to their voters for the traditional August recess. Both houses are set to return immediately after Labor Day. We’ll need another round of calls to the House “appropriators” then, but for now, give ’em a break and take one for yourselves!

(Of course, if your own House Member is serving on this committee and if you get to visit with him or her during the recess, the State/Foreign Ops bill would be a good topic to bring up.

(As we reported in last week’s Life Advocacy Briefing, the request to “Appropriators” is that they decouple the Global Health account from the account for the Global HIV/AIDS initiative, commonly known as PEPFAR.)


Action in Foreign Affairs

LAST WEEK WE REPORTED THE ‘MEXICO CITY’ POLICY had been added to the Foreign Operations Authorization bill in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. We wrote the item based on a published report, but we now find, via a source on Capitol Hill, that though the effect is the same, that’s not exactly how it happened.

Turns out HR-2583, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who chairs the committee, did include the Reagan-era provision disqualifying overseas abortion-committing and -advocating organizations (such as Planned Parenthood) from US foreign aid grants. The “Mexico City” vote came on an amendment by Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who sought to strip the protection from the measure. That amendment was rejected 17 to 25, with 24 Republicans and one Democrat – Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky – voting against the Berman bid.

Additionally, the committee took up and adopted – by voice vote – an amendment by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) requiring the State Dept. to include in its annual human rights report “systematic assessments and conclusions of the extent and nature of sex-selection abortion in each foreign country.” The Fortenberry Amendment provides it “shall be the policy of the United States to declare sex-selection abortion a human rights violation.”

Here are the Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee who voted against dumping the Mexico City Policy: Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler (KY) and Republican Representatives Tim Griffin (AR); Elton Gallegly, Dana Rohrabacher & Edward Royce (CA); Gus Bilirakis, Connie Mack & David Rivera (FL): Donald Manzullo (IL); Dan Burton & Mike Pence (IN); Jeff Fortenberry (NE); Chris Smith (NJ); Ann Marie Buerkle (NY); Rene Ellmers (NC); Steve Chabot, Bill Johnson & Jean Schmidt (OH); Mike Kelly & Tom Marino (PA); Jeff Duncan & Joe Wilson (SC); and Michael McCaul & Ted Poe (TX).

These are the Foreign Affairs Members who voted with the abortion lobby against the Mexico City Policy: Amendment sponsor and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) and Democratic Representatives Dennis Cardoza & Brad Sherman (CA); Christopher Murphy (CT); Theodore Deutch & Frederica Wilson (FL); William Keating (MA); Russ Carnahan (MO); Donald Payne & Albio Sires (NJ); Gary Ackerman, Brian Higgins & Gregory Meeks (NY); Allyson Schwartz (PA); David Cicilline (RI) and Gerald Connolly (VA); also Del. Eni Faleomavaega, who is not a Representative but as a Delegate is given the courtesy of voting in committee.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Ron Paul (R-TX) were absent for this vote.


Florida Governor Advances Cause

FLORIDA GOV. RICK SCOTT STAGED A CEREMONIAL SIGNING last week of four pro-life measures, some of which have already taken effect after being signed officially earlier.

The first-term Republican “flourished his social conservative side,” reports the Palm Beach Post, quoted by Ashley Lopez in the Florida Independent, “making it clear that the intent of the measures is to discourage women from having abortions. ‘I hope this helps make sure this doesn’t happen in the future,’ he said,” reports Ms. Lopez.

Included in the ceremony was HB-97, which, writes Ms. Lopez, “strips abortion coverage from health insurance exchanges created though the Affordable Care Act” (ObamaCare); HB-501, “which directs funds from Choose Life license plates to Choose Life, Inc.,” writes Ms. Lopez.

Gov. Scott also signed HB-1247 which Ms. Lopez characterizes as “plac[ing] tougher restrictions on young women seeking a judicial bypass for the state’s parental notification of abortion [law],” and HB-1127, which, according to Ms. Lopez, “requir[es] doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion whether it is medically necessary or not.”


So Does Russia’s President!

RUSSIAN PRES. DMITRY MEDVEDEV ‘HAS SIGNED A NEW LAW,’ reports Hilary White for, “requir[ing] abortion advertisements to include health warnings explaining the medical risks associated with the procedure.

“The law requires abortionists to devote 10% of all advertising to describing the dangers of abortion,” writes Ms. White, “and makes it illegal to describe abortion as a ‘safe medical procedure.’”

The Russian parliament, known as the Duma, is considering “further restrictions on abortion,” reports Ms. White, which are “expected to be passed … in the autumn.” Included are a proposed “two-week waiting period for abortion and a requirement for spousal consent. Also under consideration,” writes Ms. White, “is a move to declassify abortion as a medical procedure covered by the state health system.”

Though being billed by the Russian government as measures to protect women’s health, the anti-abortion restrictions are seen as part of the government’s strategy “to curb the national abortion rate,” writes Ms. White, in view of the nation’s perceived “massive demographic collapse.”

Though abortion is legal in Russia only through the 12th week – and we say “only” in contrast to the Supreme Court-dictated situation in the US – Russia’s national abortion rate, writes Ms. White, “is … the highest in the world. While official government statistics show the abortion rate as slowing,” reports LifeSiteNews, “Russian women still have an average of seven abortions through their lifetimes,” translating into a rate, reports Ms. White, of “53.7 per 1,000 women. This may be compared with [Red] China,” writes Ms. White, “which has a national and heavily enforced one-child policy, with 24.2 per 1,000 women, and Communist Cuba with 24.8 per 1,000.”

Adding to Russia’s demographic woes is the country’s suicide rate, the second highest in the world, according to the World Health Organization. The suicide rate in Russia, writes Ms. White, is “72.9 male suicides per 100,000 population.” The rate among women was not cited.


Striking a Blow for Freedom

OHIO VOTERS WILL LIKELY GET THE CHANCE this November to opt their state out of the ObamaCare mandate, thanks to a citizen-initiated referendum petition drive which appears to have collected well in excess of the 358,000 signatures required.

“Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted believes it is more than likely,” writes Peter J. Smith for, citing Associated Press (AP) as source, “that the Nov. 8 ballot will have a proposed [state] constitutional amendment that would effectively opt-out the state” from ObamaCare.

“Individuals, employers and healthcare providers would not be required to participate,” writes Mr. Smith, “in a healthcare system under the amendment, and the state could not mandate health coverage.”

“[Mr.] Husted said that he counted 427,000 valid signatures out of 546,000 petitions submitted on behalf of the amendment,” reports LifeSiteNews/AP.

The campaign manager for Ohioans for Healthcare Freedom, Jeff Longstreth “told the AP,” writes Mr. Smith, “that a TEA Party coalition with 35,000 volunteers is ready to raise money and turn out voters on behalf of the amendment. ‘This issue would not be on the ballot without the blood, sweat and tears of thousands and thousands of volunteers,’ he said,” reports LifeSiteNews/AP. “‘The message is clear: Keep health care between doctors and patients,