Life Advocacy Briefing

February 24, 2014

Ready for the Next Round? / Right On, Mississippi! / Rest in Peace
Liars Can Figure / House Voting Record

Ready for the Next Round?

LAWMAKERS IN SOUTH DAKOTA ARE CONSIDERING A PROPOSAL which could dramatically open the eyes of America to the reality of the abortion crime.

HB-1241 was filed in early February, reports Robin Marty in magazine, and “would make it a felony to ‘dismember’ a living fetus during an abortion procedure.” The reporter directly quotes the definition of “dismember” from the proposal: “‘The term “dismember” means to use an instrument or procedure for the purpose of disconnecting any bones at their joint, completely severing any bones, or removing any organs or limbs, including the spinal cord, arms, legs and internal organs.’

“What this gruesome-sounding explanation means, in essence,” writes Ms. Marty, “is that HB-1241 would make it against the law to perform what is known as a D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortion, a common procedure used in nearly all second-trimester abortions … the procedure of choice for abortions starting at roughly 14 weeks’ gestation.”

It is at that stage, notes the reporter, that most developing babies are too large to fit in the cannula suction tube commonly used in earlier abortions. The federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban precludes partial delivery of an intact baby killed on the way out of the birth canal.

Enactment of such a D&E ban in South Dakota, muses Ms. Marty, “likely won’t be [the] only battleground” for such legislation. But South Dakota is a wise tactical choice for such a measure to be inaugurated, as a legal challenge to a D&E ban there “could go unchallenged” in court, according to Politico. “The only clinic in the state offers [abortion] just through the first trimester. State law requires any later abortions to be performed in hospitals,” notes Ms. Marty, “which are far less likely to want to get involved in something as politically charged as a court battle over abortion” but would more likely simply obey the law.

Though not endorsing the specific South Dakota measure, Priests for Life national director Fr. Frank Pavone is quoted in Politico as testing “what ways both the legal courts and the court of public opinion can be used to make abortion illegal after the first trimester,” for the time being. He has, according to Ms. Marty, “long urged abortion opponents to focus on D&E as the type of bipartisan abortion restriction that could once more change the national debate.

“Telling a crowd of more than 200 in June of 2011 that his organization was already looking into ways to outlaw D&E,” writes Ms. Marty, “[Fr.] Pavone said that by focusing on ‘dismemberment’ of a fetus in utero, they might be able once more to pull traditionally pro-choice people to their side.

“‘Now it’s time for Act 2,’ reads the Priests for Life website, where the organization lays out talking points and support documentation to argue in favor of a D&E ban,” notes Ms. Marty. “‘Now is the time to ask the American public – whether pro-life or pro-choice – a simple question: Should dismemberment of a living child in the womb be permitted? … Should this specific procedure, in which a child’s arms and legs are ripped off, and head crushed, be allowed?’”

Priests for Life also offers on the YouTube Internet website a video in which Fr. Pavone himself demonstrates – via a plastic model – a “dismemberment” abortion, ready-made for pro-life citizens and officials who wish to advocate for legislation like the bill Politico has discovered in South Dakota. The video can be viewed at

We note with appreciation the consistent use of descriptive language (such as the term “dismemberment”) which US Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) uses whenever he speaks on abortion in House debate in Washington. And we join Fr. Pavone in seeing the South Dakota legislation as a new frontier in moving public opinion toward the foundational principles of justice and mercy.

“It is … evocative language,” writes Ms. Marty, “combined with polling that claims that anywhere from 60 to more than 80% of Americans believe abortion should be restricted after the first trimester, that makes a D&E procedure ban such a tempting target.”


Right On, Mississippi!

AN AMENDMENT TO EXEMPT CHILDREN CONCEIVED IN SEX CRIMES from protection under a 20-week abortion ban bill was handily defeated in the Mississippi House earlier this week.

The 20-week ban, HB-1400, passed the House by a vote of 89 to 22. The discriminatory amendment, offered by a Republican from Hattiesburg, was defeated by a vote of 73 to 40, reports Rebecca Kiessling for

“So that’s 73 state reps in Mississippi who value the lives of people like me who were conceived in rape,” comments Ms. Kiessling, “something to celebrate.” She notes, though, “16 otherwise pro-life members … apparently still need an encounter with someone who was conceived in rape.”

Or perhaps they need an encounter with pro-life citizens and organizations who actually embrace abortion bans for the sake of protecting innocent human life, across the board. Politicians who discriminate in their “pro-life” stand ought to be questioned carefully about their motivations in labeling themselves as if they are advocates for justice and mercy in our law. There is nothing just or merciful about leaving some classes of babies unprotected for the sake of situational “ethics.”

“In Congress,” notes Ms. Kiessling, “it’s somehow become the norm to see bills with rape-incest exceptions,” an injustice with which we at Life Advocacy side with Ms. Kiessling.

“These exceptions – and the ready willingness of pro-life individuals and groups to compromise,” writes Ms. Kiessling, “serve to devalue the lives of not only those who are yet unborn but also the lives of children born as a result of rape and create more hardship for the rape survivor mothers who chose life for their children, grieving to see how much their children are devalued. No other segment of the population,” she notes, “is as demonized, stigmatized, marginalized and discriminated against as the child conceived in rape – clearly those Jesus said are ‘the least of these’ in today’s society.”

We would add, excluding babies conceived in sex crimes from protection under the law is most beneficial to the committer of rape or incest, adds pressure to the mother to add a second act of violence to the one which has brought her a child, and unjustly assigns the death penalty to an innocent child for the crime of his or her father. Where is the justice and mercy in that?


Rest in Peace

WITH SADNESS FOR THOSE LEFT and joy for him who has gone on to his heavenly reward, we note the passing of John Stanton, hero of the pro-life movement in southeast Pennsylvania and one of Life Advocacy’s first partners when our Alliance was founded in 1994. has published an extensive tribute to this champion for justice and mercy, and we commend it to our readers as a model in pro-life ministry. Read it at We join thousands of Life advocates in bidding farewell to a giant friend of Life.


Liars Can Figure

Feb. 20, 2014, commentary by John Stonestreet at

According to a recently announced study by the Guttmacher Institute, abortion rates in the United States have dropped to their lowest rate since 1973; that’s the year Roe v. Wade created a constitutional right to abortion. While a decline in abortion rates is, of course, good news, the explanations for the decline leave a great deal to be desired.

According to the study, the abortion rate has dropped from the 29.3 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in 1981 to 16.9 per 1,000 in 2011. In 1973, the rate was 16.3. According to the lead author of the study, Rachel Jones, there was no “evidence that the national decline in abortions during this period was the result of new state abortion restrictions,” or “a drop in the number of abortion providers during this period.”

In its discussion of the findings, the study’s authors speculated that one factor behind the drop might be “the uptake of more effective contraceptive methods,” especially among younger women. Not surprisingly, many commentators, including Andrew Sullivan and William Saletan at Slate, were quick to draw the connection between contraception and lower abortion rates. Piers Morgan even called it “incontrovertible science.” We’ve heard that one plenty of times, haven’t we?

But, folks, what all of these commentators fail to mention is that correlation is not necessarily causation.

As Michael New noted at National Review Online, the study acknowledged that “contraception use did not increase between 2008 and 2011.”

What’s more, as New noted, “gains in contraception use do not always result in reductions in unintended pregnancies. In fact, that rate has remained fairly steady over the long term, despite increases in contraception use.”

Other proposed explanations include the “slow economy” and the “recovering economy.”

Just about the only explanation not being proffered is the well-documented shift in public attitudes toward abortion. Since 2009, a majority of Americans have identified themselves as “pro-life” when asked by Gallup. However they define “pro-life,” it’s reasonable to ask whether this shift in attitudes has had an impact on the abortion rate.

And it’s necessary to understand why the rate has dropped. After all, there are lots of ways to bring down the abortion rate that aren’t moral. The ethical considerations surrounding birth control, which for Christians are significant, are too often overlooked and dismissed as uniquely Catholic concerns. And that’s why I get nervous when I hear prominent evangelicals embrace contraception as anti-abortion measures merely on the grounds of utility. That kind of thinking can be and is often dangerous. After all, we could forcibly sterilize all teenagers and end teen pregnancy, but no right-thinking person would advocate that. Why is handing out condoms and giving out free birth control pills to people any less problematic?

What’s more, the evidence for “more contraception/less abortion” isn’t as compelling as people make it out to be. If you examine the larger trends, it was the introduction and increased use of birth control in the mid-to-late 1960s that was accompanied by a large spike in abortions and out-of-wedlock births.

So what we’re seeing now is a small decrease in the abortion rate over the past two or three years. Saying that increased contraception use – which, as Michael New points out, did not occur in the period in question – has resulted in fewer abortions selectively uses convenient evidence while ignoring a great deal of inconvenient evidence.

It also ignores the gains made by the pro-life cause. For Christians to embrace contraception as an alternative to abortion is, to put it mildly, premature and unwarranted. And ethically shortsighted.

Yes, fewer abortions is a step in the right direction. But it’s sexual wholeness – and the dignity of every human being – that’s the goal that we’re after.


House Voting Record

HRes-465 – Rule for Consideration of HR-7 (No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act) – Previous Question (Motion to End Debate) – Jan. 28, 2014 – Adopted – 222-194 (Democrats in italics)

Voting “yes” / pro-Life: Aderholt, Bachus, Brooks, Byrne, Roby, Rogers/AL; Young/AK; Franks, Gosar, Salmon, Schweikert/AZ; Cotton, Crawford, Griffin, Womack/AR; Calvert, Cook, Denham, Hunter, Issa, LaMalfa, McCarthy, McClintock, McKeon, Gary Miller, Nunes, Rohrabacher, Royce, Valadao/CA; Coffman, Gardner, Lamborn/CO; Bilirakis, Buchanan, Crenshaw, DeSantis, Diaz-Balart, Mica, Nugent, Posey, Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross, Southerland, Webster, Yoho/FL; Broun, Collins, Gingrey, Graves, Kingston, Price, A.Scott, Woodall/GA; Labrador, Simpson/ID; R.Davis, Hultgren, Kinzinger, Roskam, Schock, Shimkus/IL; Brooks, Bucshon, Messer, Rokita, Stutzman, Walorski, Young/IN; King, Latham/IA; Huelskamp, Jenkins, Pompeo, Yoder/KS; Barr, Guthrie, Massie, Rogers, Whitfield/KY; Boustany, Cassidy, Fleming, McAllister, Scalise/LA; Harris/MD; Amash, Benishek, Bentivolio, Camp, Huizenga, Miller, Upton, Walberg/MI; Bachmann, Kline, Paulsen/MN; Harper, Nunnelee, Palazzo/MS; Graves, Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, Smith, Wagner/MO; Daines/MT; Fortenberry, Smith, Terry/NE; Heck/NV; Frelinghuysen, Garrett, Lance, LoBiondo, Smith/NJ; Pearce/NM; Collins, Gibson, Grimm, Hanna, King, Reed/NY; Coble, Ellmers, Foxx, Holding, Hudson, McHenry, Meadows, Pittenger/NC; Cramer/ND; Chabot, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Latta, Renacci, Stivers, Tiberi, Turner, Wenstrup/OH; Bridenstine, Cole, Lankford, Lucas, Mullin/OK; Walden/OR; Barletta, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Kelly, Marino, Meehan, Murphy, Perry, Rothfus, Shuster, Thompson/PA; Duncan, Gowdy, Mulvaney, Rice, Sanford, Wilson/SC; Noem/SD; Black, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, Fincher, Fleischmann, Roe/TN; Barton, Brady, Burgess, Carter, Conaway, Culberson, Farenthold, Flores, Gohmert, Granger, Hall, Hensarling, S.Johnson, Marchant, McCaul, Neugebauer, Olson, Poe, Sessions, Smith, Stockman, Thornberry, Weber, Williams/TX; Bishop, Stewart/UT; Cantor, Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith, Hurt, Rigell, Wittman, Wolf/VA; Hastings, Herrera-Beutler, McMorris-Rodgers, Reichert/WA; Duffy, Petri, Ribble, Ryan, Sensenbrenner/WI; Capito, McKinley/WV; Lummis/WY.

Voting “no” / anti-Life: Sewell/AL; Barber, Grijalva, Kirkpatrick, Pastor, Sinema/AZ; Bass, Becerra, Bera, Brownley, Capps, Cardenas, Chu, Costa, Davis, Eshoo, Farr, Garamendi, Hahn, Honda, Huffman, Lee, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Geo.Miller, Napolitano, Negrete-McLeod, Pelosi, Peters, Roybal-Allard, Ruiz, Linda Sanchez, Schiff, Sherman, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Thompson, Vargas, Waters, Waxman/CA; DeGette, Perlmutter, Polis/CO; Courtney, DeLauro, Esty, Himes, Larson/CT; Carney/DE; Brown, Castor, Deutch, Frankel, Garcia, Grayson, Hastings, Murphy, Wasserman-Schultz, Wilson/FL; Barrow, Bishop, Johnson, Lewis, D.Scott/GA; Gabbard, Hanabusa/HI; Bustos, D.Davis, Duckworth, Enyart, Foster, Gutierrez, Kelly, Lipinski, Quigley, Schakowsky, Schneider/IL; Carson, Visclosky/IN; Braley, Loebsack/IA; Yarmuth/KY; Richmond/LA; Michaud, Pingree/ME; Cummings, Delaney, Edwards, Hoyer, Sarbanes, VanHollen/MD; Capuano, Clark, Keating, Kennedy, Lynch, McGovern, Neal, Tierney, Tsongas/MA; Conyers, Dingell, Kildee, Levin, Peters/MI; Ellison, McCollum, Nolan, Peterson, Walz/MN; Thompson/MS; Cleaver/MO; Horsford, Titus/NV; Kuster, Shea-Porter/NH; Andrews, Holt, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Sires/NJ; Lujan, Lujan-Grisham/NM; Bishop, Clarke, Crowley, Engel, Higgins, Israel, Jeffries, Lowey, Maffei, C.Maloney, S.Maloney, Meeks, Meng, Nadler, Owens, Rangel, Serrano, Slaughter, Tonko, Velazquez/NY; Butterfield, McIntyre, Price/NC; Beatty, Fudge, Kaptur, Ryan/OH; Bonamici, DeFazio, Schrader/OR; Brady, Cartwright, Doyle, Fattah, Schwartz/PA; Cicilline, Langevin/RI; Clyburn/SC; Cohen, Cooper/TN; Castro, Cuellar, Doggett, Gallego, A.Green, G.Green, Hinojosa, Jackson-Lee, E.B.Johnson, O’Rourke, Veasey, Vela/TX; Matheson/UT; Welch/VT; Connolly, Moran, Scott/VA; DelBene, Heck, Kilmer, Larsen, McDermott, Smith/WA; Rahall/WV; Kind, Moore, Pocan/WI.

Not voting: Campbell, Loretta Sanchez/CA; Tipton/CO; Miller/FL; Westmoreland/GA; Rush/IL; Ruppersberger/MD; Rogers/MI; Clay/MO; Amodei/NV; Runyan/NJ; McCarthy/NY; Jones/NC; Boehner/OH; Blumenauer/OR; Pitts/PA.