Life Advocacy Briefing

March 24, 2014

Appealing / Pressing for Protection / Georgia Acts to Protect Taxpayers & Babies
Gosnell Staffer Sentenced / Quoteworthy / Fundamental Freedom
The Face of Abortion / Same Ole Hillary


THE SUPREME COURT TOMORROW WILL HEAR ORAL ARGUMENTS in two cases (which the Court is taking together) seeking protection from government interference with the plaintiffs’ deeply held religious beliefs.

The cases are Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Conestoga Wood Products v. Sebelius, brought by these two Christian-owned family businesses when Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to grant exemptions from the ObamaCare abortifacient/sterilization insurance mandate.

The Court’s ruling will likely be announced early this summer. Let us pray.


Pressing for Protection

BILLS BANNING ABORTIONS on babies old enough to feel pain – which most doctors agree is at 20 gestational weeks, at latest – have passed both houses in West Virginia and in Mississippi, aimed at protecting vulnerable preborn babies from death and their mothers from risky surgery.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act also helps inform the public about the current legality of late-term abortions – something which American voters reject by large margins – and helps inform the public about fetal development. This is why the abortion lobby sees such legislation as a major threat. Similar legislation – which ought to receive unanimous support from presumably compassionate public officials – passed the US House last June by a margin of 228 to 196; sadly, only six House Democrats voted for the measure, which has since languished in the Senate.

Democrats did better on this proposal in West Virginia. “West Virginia’s measure sailed through the state House and Senate despite strong Democratic majorities,” reports Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, writing in his March 19 Washington Update. (The House vote was 85 to 15, according to the Alliance Defending Freedom [ADF], and the Senate passed the measure 25 to 9.) “Even US Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) threw his support behind the ban,” writes Mr. Perkins. And West Virginia’s Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is expected to sign it any day.

In Mississippi, a 20-week abortion ban has passed both legislative houses but has had to go to conference “to iron out a few minor differences between the House and Senate version,” reports Mr. Perkins, who further notes the measure “will soon be headed to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who left little doubt where he stood on the issue. ‘My goal,’ he told leaders during his State of the State address, ‘is to end abortion in Mississippi.’” This bill – and the public education its consideration has offered – is one element in that agenda.

ADF has sent a letter to West Virginia’s governor and issued a news release outlining the legal foundation’s points. The letter, explains the release, informs Gov. Tomblin “that ‘the bill is constitutionally sound and should be upheld against any legal challenge. … Medical advances in recent decades,’” ADF notes in the letter, “‘have provided a substantial and growing body of medical evidence that has led to a greater understanding of the development of unborn children and their capacity to feel pain at various stages of growth.’

 “‘The “Legislative Findings” … of the bill are supported by this medical evidence,’ the letter continues, ‘including that unborn children respond to touch by eight weeks after fertilization and respond to painful stimuli by no later than 20 weeks’ gestation. Moreover,’” ADF adds in their letter to the governor, “‘surgeons routinely administer anesthesia to unborn children before performing surgery. In addition, limitations on later-term abortions protect women’s health, because later-term abortions can be hazardous to women’s health.’”

Said ADF senior counsel Steven Aden, quoted in the ADF release, “‘The governor can safely sign this bill into law. It protects the health and well-being of both the child and the mother.’”


Georgia Acts to Protect Taxpayers & Babies

THE GEORGIA LEGISLATURE HAS PASSED A BAN on taxpayer funded abortion, specifically, notes Georgia Right to Life executive director Gen Wilson in a GRTL news release, “prevent[ing] public monies being spent on abortion in any of the health insurance plans under ObamaCare or for state employees under their health plans.” The pro-life leader called it “a very comprehensive bill,” which is now on its way to signature by GOP Gov. Nathan Deal, a former Member of Congress.

The proposed law, states the news release, is “especially important because it does not include exceptions based on a child’s manner of conception. It does, however, include language that protects the life of the mother.”

We at Life Advocacy applaud Georgia Right to Life for persistent advocacy of non-discriminatory pro-life legislation and look forward to Gov. Deal’s signature on this measure.

“Georgia is solidly pro-life,” declares Ms. Wilson, “and the majority of taxpayers don’t support their money being used for the barbaric practice of abortion.”


Gosnell Staffer Sentenced

JUST ONE YEAR AFTER BABY-BUTCHER KERMIT GOSNELL went to trial for murders in his West Philadelphia abortuary, one of his employees was sentenced last week to “five-to-10 years in prison,” reports the Associated Press (AP), “for her role in the 2009 overdose death of a patient.”

Medical technician Sherry West “pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and other charges,” AP reports, “admitting that she administered some of the overdose of Demerol that killed 41-year-old patient Karnamaya Mongar during an abortion” at the Gosnell “house of horrors.”

Mr. Gosnell himself, notes AP, “is serving three consecutive life sentences after being convicted of murder in the killing of babies born alive and viable during illegal late-term abortions.”



US Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), speaking at the Susan B. Anthony List’s mid-March “summit,” quoted by Internet blogger Jeremy Lott: “Abortion is not a women’s issue. It is not a men’s issue. It is not a healthcare issue. It is a violence issue.”


Fundamental Freedom

Commentary by Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) and Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), published March 11, 2014, by National Review Online

“Religious freedom is no luxury but is a basic right of a free people.” It is “one of the cornerstones of our democracy” and one of our country’s most “cherished traditions.”

These are the words of then-Rep. Charles Schumer as he championed his bill, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), on the floor of the House in 1993.

The Supreme Court had struck a blow to religious freedom in 1993 in Employment Division v. Smith by lowering the standard of judicial review for government infringements on religious free exercise.

In a rare show of robust bipartisanship, Congress responded by overwhelmingly passing RFRA.  Pres. Clinton observed on signing the law that “our Founders … knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive.”

This month, the Supreme Court has a second shot at rectifying its decision in Smith – this time, with the aid of RFRA – when it considers two challenges to the HHS mandate, from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.

Few freedoms were more valuable to those who settled this nation than the freedom of conscience. The drafters of our Constitution understood that throughout history leaders in civil government, “being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others.”

The greatness of our Constitution lies in its design to protect a multiplicity of opinions from being silenced in favor of the agendas of the reigning governmental power. By passing RFRA, Congress ensured that the government could not limit the exercise of religious beliefs without clearing a significant hurdle: the burden of proving that the measure serves a compelling government interest and cannot be met through a less restrictive method.

Freedom of conscience extends well beyond where a person worships. It encompasses a person’s whole being – who he is, how he acts, and the daily decisions he makes. It can include nothing less than the way a person lives all aspects of her life, from her private life to her public life and commercial conduct.

The First Amendment guarantees that we have freedom to live our lives according to our religious beliefs and moral convictions, free from government coercion. An individual does not abandon this freedom simply because he enters the stream of commerce. And yet, that is exactly what the Administration is trying to force on businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga under the HHS mandate.

The importance of protecting this standard is demonstrated by the more than 50 amicus briefs – nearly three times as many as filed by the opposition – in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, from sources including 107 Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, who have urged the Supreme Court to strike down the HHS mandate as unconstitutional because the government cannot meet its required burden of proof under RFRA.

As a nation, we should insist that our laws should encourage and support – not penalize – citizens who seek to consistently adhere to their moral convictions. In the words of Pres. Clinton, we must “respect one another’s faith [and] fight to the death to preserve the rights of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has.”

It is these rights that RFRA protects. It is this freedom that the Supreme Court must uphold, so that we each may live, as George Washington wrote, by “the little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”


The Face of Abortion

Statement by US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued March 18, 2014

It was one year ago this week that Americans across the country first learned the name of a Philadelphia abortionist named Kermit Gosnell. The Gosnell trial shocked the conscience of the nation and awakened many to the dangerous conditions that can exist at abortion clinics nationwide.

It prompted a renewed commitment to ensuring that health and safety standards at these clinics are actually enforced, and it led to the humane effort to ensure that late-term babies who have developed to the point that they are capable of feeling pain are protected from rogue doctors and lax regulators alike.

At the federal level, this effort resulted in the Pain-Capable Abortion Act, which passed the House last summer in a historic pro-life vote.  Sen. Lindsey Graham has sponsored a companion bil in the Senate, and I am proud to stand with the Pro-Life Women’s Caucus in Congress and a clear majority of women nationwide in support of this common-sense legislation.

It is time for America to join the ranks of most other developed nations around the world and restrict abortion at least at the point at which science tells us that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain.

On this anniversary of the Gosnell trial, let’s show the world that we remember those who have been victimized by people like Kermit Gosnell and unite in this positive and life-affirming effort to safeguard the most vulnerable among us. Let’s take up this important pro-life legislation and send it to the President.


Same Ole Hillary

March 14, 2014, Commentary by Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, published at

Twenty years after the Clintons failed to get countries to declare a right to abortion, Mrs. Clinton told a posh UN crowd that humanity cannot advance without reproductive rights. “You cannot make progress on gender equality or broader human development without safeguarding women’s reproductive health or rights,” she declared. Clinton is adamant that reproductive health includes abortion.

The undisputed leader in the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination was the highlight of International Women’s Day at UN headquarters last Friday, drawing thunderous applause from a well-heeled audience as she decried how women’s equality remains “the great unfinished business of the 21st century.”

Reproductive rights are the starting point for a successful development agenda, according to the former US Secretary of State, who called this a “bedrock truth.” Many countries do not share that truth.

The most recent UN conference on development, held in 2012 while Clinton was US Secretary of State, did not mention reproductive rights, instead emphasizing social and economic development. Controversy over the term is already disrupting negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda, a new global scheme to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in 2015.

Abortion still divides political parties even in progressive countries. The European Union is not united on the issue of reproductive rights and abortion. Last week, Norway, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia berated representatives of Kenya and Hungary for failing to include reproductive rights in a progress report on UN discussions about sustainable development goals. Fifty-one out of 193 countries mentioned reproductive rights during the discussions, according to them. The report is designed as a basis for further discussion. It mentions sexual and reproductive health and omits the term “reproductive rights.”

Reproductive rights policies have channeled billions of dollars to groups that perform or promote abortion. Few countries expected that outcome when reproductive rights were mentioned in a 1994 UN conference on development. Hillary Clinton is credited with playing a behind-the-scenes role in getting that conference to endorse reproductive rights as a paradigm for development, even as she failed to obtain a right to abortion.

Critics of the reproductive rights approach to development question the priorities of its proponents. Most developing countries agree that men and women have a right to freely marry and found a family and use family planning but remain unmoved by calls for sexual liberation and sexual autonomy, often characterized as symptoms of western decadence and associated with multiple health risks.

Groups concerned with improving maternal health – one of the Millennium Development Goals on which least progress has been made – complain that donor countries generously fund reproductive rights initiatives, while saving women in childbirth lags behind.

Critical measures to improve maternal health, like emergency obstetric care and skilled birth attendants, receive scant attention from reproductive rights proponents, who are more concerned with a broad agenda for sexual autonomy and sexual liberation.

Despite Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments as the wife of a powerful politician and in her own career, she remains a polarizing figure. As her shadow campaign for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination ratchets up, she may be setting her sights on one more chance to make abortion a human right. In 1994 as now, it remains a tall order.