Life Advocacy Briefing

June 16, 2014

Disabilities Treaty Coming Back? / Change of the Guard / Burwell Confirmed
When It Gets Personal / Appealing to the Supreme Court
Senate Voting Records on Burwell Nomination

Disabilities Treaty Coming Back?

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ SENT A SIGNAL last week of his intent to bring forward an already discredited United Nations treaty for a ratification vote in the United States Senate, a treaty which has deep implications for the cause of Life. The New Jersey Democrat is chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, which harbors treaty ratification instruments.

Citing a June 2 ruling by the Supreme Court in an unrelated case, Sen. Menendez claimed in a news release that the decision in a case involving a woman’s poisoning of her husband’s mistress provides assurances that the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities could not be used to alter the US system of federalism. Opponents to the treaty have long argued it could be used to prevent states or local authorities from taking steps related to abortion and Life issues.

“Based on [the June 2] Supreme Court ruling, I intend to put the Disabilities Treaty up for a vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the near future,” said Chairman Menendez, “in the hopes that it will then be considered and passed by the full Senate.” Chairman Menendez, we must note, has voted consistently with the abortion industry during his lengthy Senate tenure.

“The Senator’s views don’t [correlate] with what legal experts are saying,” writes Stefano Gennarini JD, in a commentary for Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam).  Dr. Gennarini acknowledges that committee Senators raised the pending case when the Disabilities Treaty was heard last autumn, asking to forestall a vote until the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Bond.

But, he notes, the chairman’s “swift evaluation of the Supreme Court’s decision clashes with the legal commentary on the case, and several questions raised by Senators during the hearings remain unanswered.

“Peter Spiro of Temple University wrote on [a] popular [judicial analysis] blog that the Court avoided any question about ‘the scope of the federal power to invade’ areas reserved to states. … Those who hoped for a far-reaching ruling were let down by the decision,” writes Dr. Gennarini. “As is often the case, the Supreme Court dodged the hard question and solved the case in the narrowest possible way.”

Warns George Mason University Professor Jeremy Rabkin, also quoted by Dr. Gennarini, “‘Ratifying this Convention would commit the United States to obligations we cannot now foresee.’”

And C-Fam writer Susan Yoshihara, notes Dr. Gennarini, is “skeptical that the US could prevent the development of an international norm about abortion through the treaty, regardless of the reservations the United States could make to the treaty,” if, under the current Regime, the US would even attempt to attach such reservations. “‘I am not optimistic,’” she said in the C-Fam commentary, “‘that we can be fully inoculated’ from officials expanding the application of the vague language in the Disabilities Treaty.”

Since C-Fam is the pro-life movement’s most diligent, involved observer of UN actions, procedures and schemes, we at Life Advocacy view the Institute as the most expert in anticipating how UN treaties like the Disability Convention would be manipulated by UN enforcement bodies to impose abortion “rights” and other life-threatening policies on member nations, such as the United States.

We urge our readers to contact their home-state US Senators and request a “no” vote on the UN Disabilities Treaty, should it be advanced for action by the Senate. The Capitol switchboard is at 1-202/224-3121.


Change of the Guard

WE OFFER THANKS to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) for his consistent record in defense of Life. Leader Cantor will be leaving the House at the end of this term.

The economics professor who bested him in last Tuesday’s primary, Dave Brat, includes on his Internet website a commitment to vote for laws which protect human life. The district is expected to remain in GOP hands.

We commend Mr. Cantor on the positive, uplifting quality of his statement to the media last Wednesday afternoon, a model speech in an unusual circumstance.

The Majority Leader announced Wednesday he would step down from his leadership post as of July 31, though he will complete his term as a Member of Congress; a vote by the House GOP Conference to elect his successor as Majority Leader is expected late this week. May God bless Mr. Cantor in his future and may He inspire the Conference as the decision is made.


Burwell Confirmed

THE SENATE VOTED ON JUNE 5 TO CONFIRM former Obama Budget Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell to the powerful post vacated by the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS).

We publish at the conclusion of this Life Advocacy Briefing the Senate voting records on both the confirmation motion and the cloture motion preceding it; it was by the cloture motion that debate was ended and the nomination was brought formally to a vote.

In examining these two roll calls, we observe a handful of Senators whose voting record normally embraces the cause of Life. Though we acknowledge that Senators hold a variety of reasons for their votes on nominations – some employing a policy, for example, of voting to confirm any Presidential nominee so long as no claims of improper conduct have arisen – we must express disappointment in their votes on this nomination because of the implications for many issues related to Life.

The HHS Secretary, after all, is not simply a high federal official; she will head the one department of government which most affects federal spending on such outfits as Planned Parenthood. And it is this department which, notoriously, administers most of the rules, regulations and funding streams related to ObamaCare.

We are not surprised that Mr. Obama would appoint someone of Mrs. Burwell’s background to the post, but we are disappointed that pro-life Senators would fail to grasp the implications of the HHS post going to a former top administrator for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – president of its Global Development Program, which spends a fortune on depopulation schemes throughout the world and is a significant source of “private” funding for Planned Parenthood.

“Between 1998 and 2012,” reports Ben Johnson for, “the Gates Foundation gave International Planned Parenthood Federation $41,876,150. This includes more than $20 million in 2007 alone.”  Mrs. Burwell’s tenure with the Gates outfit was from 2001 until December of 2011, according to Mr. Johnson, who further cites Gates donations to “Planned Parenthood Federation of America $12,984,000” and “an indirect grant to [United Nations Population Fund] UNFPA of $2.2 billion for ‘reproductive health,’ although the UNFPA,” notes Mr. Johnson, “is complicit in [Red] China’s one-child policy of forced abortion and sterilization.”

This is why we asked our readers to weigh in against the Burwell nomination and consider the Burwell roll calls to be rife with implications for the cause of Life; it is why we publish the records as “pro-life” and “anti-life.” We thank those who voted “no.”


When It Gets Personal

PENNSYLVANIA’s MAY PRIMARY BROUGHT AN INTERESTING RESULT among Democrats in a Philadelphia-area State House district, where incumbent Margo Davidson, reports Phil Heron for the Delaware County Daily Times, “beat back a primary challenge from two foes within her own [Democratic] party.”

The lady’s victory was of particular interest to pro-life observers, though Rep. Davidson considers herself a so-called “pro-choice” lawmaker.

It seems the Representative is the cousin of one of Kermit Gosnell’s victims, who died from an infection after an appointment in his West Philadelphia butcher shop, which was located in the Davidson district. And as a consequence, when the Pennsylvania House took up legislation tightening health-and-safety standards on abortuaries and calling for actual inspections of the mills, Rep. Davidson gave a heartfelt, effective speech in favor of requiring abortion enterprises to meet clinic standards. In her floor speech, reports Catholic News Agency (CNA), “she said she supported the legislation ‘so that never again will a woman walk into a licensed healthcare facility in the state of Pennsylvania and be butchered, as she was.’”

The abortion lobby sharpened its fangs and went after the lady, on whose vote they had previously relied. Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for [sic] Women “announced their support of Billy Smith” to oppose her in the primary, reports CNA. “This marks the first Democratic primary in which the NOW has supported a man over a woman running for office.”

The result: “[Rep.] Davidson,” reports Mr. Heron, “racked up 2,675 votes to 2,143 [for Mr. Smith], according to unofficial results.” The third-place candidate, he reports, “trailed with just 241 votes.”

Congratulations, Rep. Davidson. We welcome your primary victory and hope you have taken a good long look at those who have treated you with undue dirt.


Appealing to the Supreme Court

As we await the soon-expected Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby v. ObamaCare Mandate case, Life Advocacy Briefing offers a reprint here of remarks by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), co-chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, which he offered in late March at the time the Court entertained oral arguments in the case.

I am grateful that the Supreme Court took up this critical case for religious liberty, and I am hopeful that the Court will provide much needed relief from this discriminatory ObamaCare policy.

Under the Obama Administration’s coercive mandate, family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood have found themselves in the impossible position of being forced to violate their moral or religious beliefs, or face crippling fines. And this not only puts businesses at serious and unnecessary risk but also employees who may lose their jobs and their health care.

It is the height of hypocrisy for the Obama Administration to coerce family businesses that provide generous health care for their employees into a situation that may force them to close. The ObamaCare financial penalties are draconian, egregious and without precedent in US law. Under ObamaCare, a family business that does provide health care for its employees, like Hobby Lobby, but objects to covering certain drugs and services will be fined up to $36,500 per year per employee. That’s outrageous. For the Green family of Hobby Lobby, this could amount to nearly half a billion dollars in fines per year.

I would note parenthetically that a company that does not provide any health insurance whatsoever for their employees will be fined $2,000 per year per employee, an unfair burden to be sure but far less than $36,500 per year per employee if they refuse to include certain drugs or devices that violate their moral or religious tenets. For the Green family of Hobby Lobby, dumping their existing healthcare coverage for employees could result in fines of up to $26 million per year or potentially $448.5 million less in fines than if they actually provided health insurance.

This burdensome penalty is completely unfair, unreasonable and unconscionable. The Obama Administration is saying we will punish you, we will hurt you, we could even put you out of business for providing health care for your employees unless you provide health care according to the government’s conscience. Also, employees currently on their business’s health plan could lose the coverage they need for themselves and their families. Secretary Sebelius and Pres. Obama have no business imposing their morality on people of faith, but that is exactly what their oppressive mandate does.

The Supreme Court has a duty to protect the religious and conscience rights of the Greens and the Hahns (owners of Conestoga Wood [plaintiffs in the linked case]) and everyone else suffering government-imposed harm. The US high court must act to protect the First Amendment rights of these families. Protecting them also protects their employees from the dire, foolish and unprecedented consequences of the ObamaCare mandate.

And let’s make no mistake about it; this mandate is very much Obama’s willful intention. The imposition of this attack on religious freedom is no accident. It comes straight from the pages of ObamaCare. In December of 2009, in the run-up to the passage of ObamaCare, Sen. Mikulski offered an amendment which provided the authorizing language for this oppressive mandate. When Pres. Obama spoke at Notre Dame University (also currently suing over the mandate) in 2009, he spoke about drafting a “sensible conscience clause” – and yet, today, protection of conscience is another highly visible broken promise of ObamaCare.

To tell people that their conscience is irrelevant and that they must follow the federal government’s conscience rather than their own is completely antithetical to the American principle of freedom of religion and the First Amendment. Unless reversed, Obama’s attack on conscience rights will result in government-imposed discrimination against those that seek to live according to their faith. Under the weight of the mandate’s ruinous fines and penalties, many businesses could be forced to shut down, eliminating jobs. I never would have believed this kind of religious violation could occur in the United States. The Supreme Court must end this abuse.


Senate Voting Records on Burwell Nomination

Cloture Motion to bring Sylvia Matthews Burwell nomination forward to a vote – June 4, 2014 – Adopted 67-28 (Democrats in italics; “Independents” marked I; new Members in CAPS)

Voting “no” / pro-life: Sessions & Shelby/AL, Rubio/FL, Risch/ID, Kirk/IL, Grassley/IA, Moran & Roberts/KS, McConnell & Paul/KY, Vitter/LA, Wicker/MS, Blunt/MO, Fischer & Johanns/NE, Heller/NV, Ayotte/NH, Hoeven/ND, Coburn & Inhofe/OK, Graham & Scott/SC, Thune/SD, Cornyn & Cruz/TX, Johnson/WI, and Barrasso & Enzi/WY.

Voting “yes” / anti-life: Begich & Murkowski/AK, Flake & McCain/AZ, Pryor/AR, Boxer & Feinstein/CA, Bennet & Udall/CO, Blumenthal & Murphy/CT, Carper & Coons/DE, Nelson/FL, Chambliss & Isakson/GA, Hirono & Schatz/HI, Crapo/ID, Durbin/IL, Coats & Donnelly/IN, Harkin/IA, Landrieu/LA, Collins & King(I)/ME, Cardin & Mikulski/MD, Markey & Warren/MA, Levin & Stabenow/MI, Franken & Klobuchar/MN, McCaskill/MO, Tester & WALSH/MT, Reid/NV, Shaheen/NH, Menendez/NJ, Heinrich & Udall/NM, Gillibrand & Schumer/NY, Burr & Hagan/NC, Heitkamp/ND, Brown & Portman/OH, Merkley & Wyden/OR, Toomey/PA, Reed & Whitehouse/RI, Johnson/SD, Alexander & Corker/TN, Hatch/UT, Leahy & Sanders(I)/VT, Kaine & Warner/VA, Cantwell & Murray/WA, Manchin & Rockefeller/WV, and Baldwin/WI.

Not voting:  Boozman/AR, Cochran/MS, Booker/NJ, Casey/PA, and Lee/UT.

Nomination of Sylvia Matthews Burwell as Secretary of Health & Human Services – June 5, 2014 – Confirmed 78-17 (Democrats in italics; “Independents” marked I)

Voting “no” / pro-life: Sessions & Shelby/AL, Rubio/FL, Risch/ID, Kirk/IL, Moran & Roberts/KS, McConnell & Paul/KY, Vitter/LA, Blunt/MO, Heller/NV, Ayotte/NH, Inhofe/OK, Thune/SD, and Cornyn & Cruz/TX.

Voting “yes” / anti-life: Begich & Murkowski/AK, Flake & McCain/AZ, Pryor/AR, Boxer & Feinstein/CA, Bennet & Udall/CO, Blumenthal & Murphy/CT, Carper & Coons/DE, Nelson/FL, Chambliss & Isakson/GA, Hirono & Schatz/HI, Crapo/ID, Durbin/IL, Coats & Donnelly/IN, Grassley & Harkin/IA, Landrieu/LA, Collins & King(I)/ME, Cardin & Mikulski/MD, Markey & Warren/MA, Levin & Stabenow/MI, Franken & Klobuchar/MN, Wicker/MS, Tester & Walsh/MT, Fischer & Johanns/NE, Reid/NV, Shaheen/NH, Booker & Menendez/NJ, Heinrich & Udall/NM, Gillibrand & Schumer/NY, Burr & Hagan/NC, Heitkamp & Hoeven/ND, Brown & Portman/OH, Coburn/OK, Merkley & Wyden/OR, Casey & Toomey/PA, Reed & Whitehouse/RI, Graham/SC, Johnson/SD, Alexander & Corker/TN, Hatch/UT, Leahy & Sanders(I)/VT, Kaine & Warner/VA, Cantwell & Murray/WA, Manchin & Rockefeller/WV, Baldwin & Johnson/WI, and Barrasso & Enzi/WY.

Not voting:  Boozman/AR, Cochran/MS, McCaskill/MO, Scott/SC, and Lee/UT.