Life Advocacy Briefing

December 3, 2012

A U.N. Treaty? – in a Lameduck Session? / Ammunition on the Treaty
Chipping Away at ObamaCare / Compromising Source
The Governors Send Sec’y Sebelius a Message
Compassion? Common Sense? Nope! U.N. Power Grab / Senate Voting Record

A U.N. Treaty? – in a Lameduck Session?

NO SOONER HAD SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT) HOSTED A NEWS CONFERENCE last week calling on Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) not to bring forward the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that the Majority Leader brought up a motion to proceed to debate on the treaty, a motion which was adopted 61 to 36, needing 60. According to president Michael Farris, the Senate will vote on ratification tomorrow (Tuesday).

We were heartened to see 36 Senators voting “no” on bringing forward the treaty for consideration. If all 36 maintain their opposition to the treaty, it likely will not come to a vote after all; if any of them weakens, it could go to a vote and could well be ratified.

We urge our readers to call their own US Senators – especially those Senators who voted “no” on the procedural roll call we are publishing at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing – and urge them to maintain opposition to voting to ratify this treaty (or any treaty) during the Senate’s lameduck session. (Some of them are pinning their opposition to a principled position against treaty ratifications during no-accountability sessions after elections, such as the Senate is currently in. The emotional appeals of a treaty with such a title, however, may lure some to change position; no one can be taken for granted.)

Senators may be called via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121.


Ammunition on the Treaty

WE WROTE EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THE U.N. DISABILITY RIGHTS TREATY last summer. We now commend to our readers a commentary we are publishing near the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing and a video of the news conference at which former GOP Senator and 2012 Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (R) and international law professor Michael Farris, of Patrick Henry College, joined Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee in outlining the pitfalls of the CRPD treaty and called for the Senate to eschew action on it during the lameduck Senate session. (Kudos to Sen. Lee in leading the challenge against this treaty, particularly considering that his Utah counterpart, GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, appears to be a backer of subjecting the rights of parents to international law.)

Mr. Santorum is leading the charge against the treaty through a public policy group he has founded, Patriot Voices. He was accompanied at the news conference by two of his grown children, his wife Karen and their disabled daughter Bella. His chief concern with the treaty is its substitution of government authority for parents in determining the “best interests” of disabled children.

The video runs just over 26 minutes and is full of useful arguments against the treaty’s ratification. It can be viewed on the Internet at


Chipping Away at ObamaCare

HEADWAY CONTINUES TOWARD STYMYING OBAMACARE – not in Congress but in the courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court last Monday “ordered the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, to consider the claim by Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia,” reports the Associated Press (AP), “that Obama’s healthcare law violates the school’s religious freedoms.”

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected a Liberty University appeal of a district judge’s adverse ruling. The Supreme Court last week rejected the appellate court’s ruling “that the lawsuit was premature,” reports AP, which noted the appellate panel “never dealt with the substance of the school’s arguments” but has now been ordered to hear the case.

“Liberty is challenging both the requirement that most individuals obtain health insurance or pay a penalty,” reports AP, “and a separate provision requiring many employers to offer health insurance to their workers.” Liberty is a Christian school.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton (District of Columbia) issued a preliminary injunction Nov. 16 blocking the Obama Regime from enforcing its abortifacient/contraception/sterilization employee coverage mandate against Carol Stream, Illinois-based Tyndale House Publishers, a major publisher of the Bible. The company employs 260 workers, according to an AP report by Frederic Frommer. The judge will hear arguments in the case at a later date but has relieved Tyndale of the immediate need to add abortifacients to their group insurance plan.

“‘The contraceptive coverage mandate affirmatively compels the plaintiffs to violate their religious beliefs in order to comply with the law,’” wrote Judge Walton in issuing his temporary order, quoted by AP, “‘and avoid the sanctions that would be imposed for their non-compliance.’” He further noted that the firm’s non-compliance would subject the Christian-based company to fines and lawsuits.

“[Judge] Walton said that the government hasn’t offered any proof,” reports AP, “that mandatory insurance for the specific types of contraceptives that Tyndale objects to furthers the government’s compelling interests … in promoting public health and ensuring that women have equal access to health care.”

Then, last Thursday, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction against the mandate for St. Louis-based O’Brien Industrial Holdings. One more, at least temporary, victory!


Compromising Source

THE TURMOIL WITHIN THE NATIONAL G.O.P. GOES ON, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) weighing in Nov. 25 with his highly predictable and public advice to his party’s future candidates.

In a Fox News television interview, the loser of the 2008 Presidential campaign “said the GOP needs ‘a bigger tent’ to be successful in Presidential elections,” writes Ben Johnson for, “and part of that means dropping social issues important to conservatives.”

Mr. McCain, who surrounded himself with sell-out-style “moderate” consultants during his uninspiring top-spot campaign, offered a model of how our pro-life candidates are advised to communicate their position: “Echoing the talking point that men should not weigh in on a female issue,” writes Mr. Johnson, “[Sen.] McCain said, ‘I don’t think anybody like me –’ then pointed to himself before changing gears abruptly,” notes LifeSiteNews. “‘I can state my position on abortion, but other than that, leave the issue alone, when we are in the kind of economic situation and, frankly, national security situation we’re in.’”

Ask the many pro-life candidates around America how that sort of minimalization tactic worked out in their recently concluded campaigns. Ask them how voters reacted to their throwing out their label – only when asked and only, it appeared, because they “had to” – and focusing solely on economic issues; ask them how voters reacted to their principled position when abortion industry political arms then smeared them with charges of “extremism” in relentless mailings and radio or television spots. Saying as little as possible about Life did not work out for Mitt Romney, did it?

The fact that a couple of pro-life candidates got their tongues tied is not cured by excluding pro-life candidates from speaking – or even running, as some would prefer. The answer, rather, is acknowledging that the issue is going to arise in the campaign whether or not the pro-life candidate raises it and that the pro-life candidate is better off defining the issue him- or herself before the opposition starts throwing the grenades. “‘Denial,’” said conservative strategist Ralph Reed, quoted by Mr. Johnson, “‘isn’t a strategy.’” Amen.


The Governors Send Sec’y Sebelius a Message

Letters from various governors to Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offering their response to the federal expectation they would establish state-level bureaucracies (“exchanges”) to implement ObamaCare (officially, “Affordable Care Act” or “PPACA”)

Gov. Dave Heineman (R-NE): On the key issues, there is no real operational difference between a federal exchange and a state exchange. A state exchange is nothing more than the state administering the Affordable Care Act with all of the important and critical decisions made by the federal government. The Affordable Care Act is being dictated totally by the federal government. In addition to our concerns that the State of Nebraska would not have any significant control of a state exchange, I am even more concerned about the cost of an exchange. It is simply too expensive to do a state insurance exchange. The bottom line is a state insurance exchange is really controlled by the federal government, and the cost of operating a state insurance exchange is very expensive.

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH): HHS is asking states to make final decisions on fiscally and economically significant and pivotal issues without promised federal guidance and rules for issues such as essential health benefits, market reforms, multi-state health insurance plans and more specifics regarding the federally facilitated exchange. At this point, based on the information we have, states do not have any flexibility to build and manage exchanges in ways that respond to unique needs of their citizens or markets.

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC): Under the PPACA, the federal government is required to establish exchanges, and [the Act] gave individual states the choice to participate. Yet, as we worked through the process of analyzing the options available to South Carolina, it became abundantly clear that state “participation” was in name only. … The law’s state-based exchange programs are not state-based at all. Instead, they simply pass along to the state the burdens of a new and cumbersome bureaucracy. The law fails to give South Carolina any flexibility and decision-making authority that would enable us to truly construct the program in a manner that would offer the most meaningful benefit to our citizens.

Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA): I remain concerned with the one-size-fits-all approach and high financial burden imposed on states by this federal mandate. … We believe that a well-designed, private free-market approach to small business exchanges could be beneficial to small businesses, but the regulations promulgated by your Administration take those options away.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI): The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) gives states three options in building health insurance exchanges: an exchange built and managed by an individual state subject to federal mandate; a partnership plan requiring the state to perform functions on behalf of the federal government; or a federal exchange developed by the federal government. While the three options differ in who initially builds and operates the exchange, all three options are identical in that they are governed and controlled by federal policy. No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the healthcare policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents. If the state option is chosen, however, Wisconsinites face risk from a federal mandate lacking long-term guaranteed funding.

In Wisconsin, we have been successful in providing health insurance coverage to over 90% of state residents without the creation of an exchange and absent federal regulation. We have a long history of being a leader on health reform issues, and with more guidance and greater state flexibility, our competitive market system would have ensured health insurance coverage to the most vulnerable Wisconsinites without federalization of our market. Unfortunately, operating a state exchange would not provide the flexibility to meet our state’s unique needs or to protect our state’s taxpayers. 

Compassion? Common Sense? Nope! U.N. Power Grab

Commentary by Amy Payne for the Heritage Foundation, reprinted Nov. 28 by

International treaties sound like a good idea, especially when they claim to protect vulnerable people. The problem is, America already does more than any other country to ensure equal rights for its people – and the United Nations just wants the power to interfere in American law.

The Senate is now considering the CRPD. Pres. Obama signed this treaty in 2009, but the Senate has yet to agree to it. It needs a two-thirds majority of Senators to ratify it. In September, 36 Republican Senators signed a letter stating that they would oppose any treaties that came up for a vote during the lameduck session of Congress. We will see now whether that promise holds.

Steven Groves [a senior research fellow at Heritage Foundation] … has explained that despite its name, the treaty will not help Americans with disabilities: “The rights of Americans with disabilities are well protected under existing law and are enforced by a wide range of state and federal agencies. Joining CRPD merely opens the door for foreign ‘experts’ to interfere in US policymaking in violation of the principles of American sovereignty.”

For starters, the treaty doesn’t even define disabilities but says that ‘disability is an evolving concept.’ This is consistent with the nature of UN treaties, which often extend the organization’s reach beyond the original treaty concept. Groves writes: ‘Human rights treaty committees have been known to make demands that fall well outside the scope of the subject matter of the treaty and conflict with the legal, social, economic and cultural traditions and norms of states. This has especially been the case with the US.”

For example, the UN committee that is supposed to make recommendations on racial discrimination tried to dictate to the United States how it should handle enemy combatants held at Guantanamo Bay and said the US should end the death penalty. And the committee that oversees the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women [CEDAW] regularly advocates that the US decriminalize prostitution.

The disabilities treaty could open the door for abortion advocates “to pressure the US to liberalize its domestic abortion laws or policies governing foreign aid for family planning,” says Heritage’s Grace Melton. UN officials have already pointed to language in the treaty as helpful in expanding abortion.

As if all of this weren’t enough, UN treaties are always aimed directly at Americans’ wallets. This one is no different. The cost of enforcing it is unknown. Not only does the treaty fail to define who would be considered disabled, but it also adds entitlements to whoever that may be. In addition to covering traditional civil rights, the treaty attempts to guarantee: “certain economic, social and cultural ‘positive rights,’ such as the right to education, health and ‘an adequate standard of living for [persons with disabilities] and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.’”

As is usually the case, the United States is already an example to the rest of the world in this area. This country has multiple major federal laws that protect Americans with disabilities, ensuring their access to services and their rights – in addition to the rights all Americans enjoy because of the Bill of Rights. No other country can begin to compete with the safeguards America has in place.

Inviting the United Nations and other international groups to come in with authority over America’s treatment of its citizens would not help people with disabilities and would have many harmful – and costly – consequences.


Senate Voting Record

Motion to Proceed to Debate on United Nations Convention (Treaty) on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – Nov. 27, 2012 – Adopted 61-36, needing 60 (Democrats in italics)

Voting “no” / pro-life: AL/Sessions & Shelby, AZ/Kyl, AR/Boozman, FL/Rubio, GA/Chambliss & Isakson, ID/Crapo & Risch, IN/Coats, IA/Grassley, KS/Moran, KY/McConnell & Paul, LA/Vitter, MS/Cochran & Wicker, MO/Blunt, NE/Johanns, NV/Heller, NC/Burr, ND/Hoeven, OH/Portman, OK/Coburn & Inhofe, PA/Toomey, SC/DeMint & Graham, SD/Thune, TN/Alexander & Corker, TX/Cornyn & Hutchison, UT/Lee, WI/Johnson, WY/Enzi.

Voting “yes” / anti-life: AK/Begich & Murkowski, AZ/McCain, AR/Pryor, CA/Boxer & Feinstein, CO/Bennet & Udall, CT/Lieberman, DE/Carper & Coons, FL/Nelson, HI/Akaka & Inouye, IL/Durbin, IN/Lugar, IA/Harkin, LA/Landrieu, ME/Collins & Snowe, MD/Cardin & Mikulski, MA/Brown & Kerry, MI/Levin & Stabenow, MN/Franken & Klobuchar, MO/McCaskill, MT/Baucus & Tester, NE/Nelson, NV/Reid, NH/Ayotte& Shaheen, NJ/Lautenberg & Menendez, NM/Bingaman & Udall, NY/Gillibrand & Schumer, NC/Hagan, ND/Conrad, OH/Brown, OR/Merkley & Wyden, PA/Casey, RI/Reed & Whitehouse, SD/Johnson, UT/Hatch, VT/Leahy & Sanders, VA/Warner & Webb, WA/Cantwell & Murray, WV/Manchin & Rockefeller, WI/Kohl, WY/Barrasso.

Not voting: CT/Blumenthal, IL/Kirk, KS/Roberts.

Note: The 36 GOP Senators who signed the September letter pledging to “oppose efforts to consider a treaty” during the lameduck Senate session include Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who voted “yes” on the motion to consider the treaty, and Sen. Pat Roberts, who did not vote on the motion. Of the 36 who voted against last week’s motion, Senators Mitch McConnell and Chambliss did not sign the earlier letter, indicating 38 Senators have opposed considering the treaty either via the letter or via last week’s roll call.