Life Advocacy Briefing

November 3, 2014

Reprieve Granted / Dakota Victory / New Jersey Pulls Brigham License
Are You Sending Mr. Smith to Washington? / It All Comes Down to Common Sense

Reprieve Granted

ANOTHER JUDICIAL RULING HAS COME IN on the Obama Regime’s attempt to force faith-motivated academic institutions to include abortifacient contraception coverage in their employee health plans. And again, the judge ruled against the Dept. of Health & Human Services, this time Florida federal district judge James Moody, who granted a preliminary injunction exempting the Naples-based Ave Maria School of Law Catholic institution from the mandate. Ave Maria had been scheduled to begin paying fines last weekend for its refusal to abandon its First Amendment rights.

Judge Moody is the first federal judge to issue a ruling since the White House attempted this summer to modify its mandate as a fictitious representation of an olive branch to faith-based institutions. From the beginning, those institutions were not fooled into dropping their lawsuits, and Judge Moody has confirmed their wisdom in standing firm. The Ave Maria suit was suspended late last year, pending the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling this summer; that ruling favored First Amendment protections for faith-motivated family businesses, apparently suggesting the path taken by the Fort Myers-based judge.

Ave Maria University president Jim Towey issued a statement, reports Michael Gryboski for Christian Post, in which he said he “found the matter troubling. ‘It is a sad day when an American citizen or organization has no choice but to sue its own government in order to exercise religious liberty rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution,’ said [Mr.] Towey, quoted by Mr. Gryboski. “‘Allowing a US President of any political party or religious affiliation to force conformance to his or her religious or secular orthodoxy through executive action,’” he said, “‘is a perilous precedent.’”

Judge Moody is expected to continue to preside over the case as it is argued at the district court level. But for now, Ave Maria will be excused from crippling fines, and prospects for ultimate justice appear auspicious.

The law school is represented in the case by Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, whose senior counsel, Eric Baxter, commented in the Christian Post report: “‘After dozens of court rulings, the government still doesn’t seem to get that it can’t force faith institutions to violate their beliefs. Fortunately,’” he added, “‘the courts continue to see through the government’s attempts to disguise the mandate’s religious coercion. We congratulate Ave Maria for its courage,’” Mr. Baxter concluded, “‘even under the threat of crippling fines.’”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins weighed in on the Ave Maria injunction in his Oct. 29 Washington Update. “For now,” he wrote, “the Administration doesn’t seem to get the message that the courts keep sending, which is that no one – including the President – can strong-arm Americans into surrendering their beliefs.

“As of today,” noted Mr. Perkins, “90% of US courts have ruled on the side of religious liberty, including, as the Becket Fund points out, the Supreme Court in three separate lawsuits.

“Let’s hope more courts respond as [Judge] Moody did,” wrote Mr. Perkins, “recognizing that the President has a lot of powers but picking and choosing who[m] the First Amendment applies to isn’t one of them.”


Dakota Victory

NORTH DAKOTA’s SUPREME COURT HAS REVERSED a state district judge’s ruling blocking the state’s never-yet-enforced 2011 ban on chemical abortion.

As a consequence, reports Associated Press (AP) writer James MacPherson, “North Dakota’s sole abortion provider stopped providing medication abortions [last] Wednesday.” Red River Women’s Clinic [sic] continues to commit abortion via surgery.

North Dakota’s attorney general, according to Mr. MacPherson, had “said the clinic in Fargo had two weeks to appeal and abide by the decision, but Red River Women’s Clinic director Tammi Kromenaker said she didn’t want to risk legal action.” AP reports, citing Ms. Kromenaker as source, some eight customers were “scheduled for medication abortions [last] week, but each has been told the option is no longer available ‘and to prepare for other options.’”

The Red River director told Mr. MacPherson “about 20% of the 1,300 abortions the clinic performs each year are done using a combination of” RU-486 and Cytotec. The shop’s surgical abortions are committed by “three out-of-state physicians licensed to practice in North Dakota,” reports AP. None of the abortionists who practice in North Dakota actually lives there.

District Court Judge Wickham Corwin had ruled in April, 2013, reports Mike Nowatzki in the Bismarck Tribune, “that the ban on all medication abortions violated the state constitution and was an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion under the federal Constitution,” which, of course, contains no such provision.

The state appealed the ruling to the state high court, where a majority of at least four justices would be required, under the state constitution, notes Mr. Nowatzki, “to declare a statute unconstitutional. Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle and Justices Dale Sandstrom and Daniel Crothers,” writes Mr. Nowatzki, “found that there wasn’t a sufficient majority to declare the law unconstitutional under the US Constitution. …

“‘The effect of the separate opinions in this case,’” the opinion stated, quoted by the Bismarck Tribune, “‘is that (the law) is not declared unconstitutional by a sufficient majority and that the district court judgment permanently enjoining the state from enforcing (the law) is reversed.’” The high court’s ruling, reports AP, filled 103 pages.

An attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, according to AP, “was … mulling the opinion and did not know whether the case would be elevated to federal court.” The state’s attorney general, Wayne Stenehjem, reports Mr. MacPherson, “applauded [last] Tuesday’s ruling.”


New Jersey Pulls Brigham License

ONE EASTERN-SEABOARD STATE AFTER ANOTHER has yanked the medical license of notorious abortionist Steven Brigham. Early last month, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners took its turn, and Operation Rescue (OR) reports that long-due action has “put seven dangerous New Jersey abortion facilities in limbo.”

“Now that [Mr.] Brigham has no valid medical license,” writes OR’s Cheryl Sullenger, “he should have 90 days to divest himself of the abortion business[es] or shut them down.” New Jersey limits the operation of medical facilities to licensed providers, notes OR.

Long-time readers of Life Advocacy Briefing may recall the name Stephen Brigham, as we have reported previously on his license revocations in Pennsylvania and Maryland. His facilities, notes OR, “are known to be among the worst in the nation, operating – often illegally – out of run-down facilities that attempt to fly under what little regulatory radar there might be.”

OR highlights “suspicious activity” at Mr. Brigham’s Phillipsburg shop, which he calls American Medical Services, the day after news of his revocation surfaced. “That facility continued operations with locked doors, drawn shutters and office lights out,” writes Ms. Sullenger, “as if the staff did not want anyone to know it was open. Women who arrived for appointments at the clinic were forced [to] wait in a dirty, trash-strewn entryway until staff could quickly usher them inside, only to lock the door again behind them.”

The seven Brigham-owned shops which should soon be closing in New Jersey are: the Phillipsburg operation and Associates in Ob-Gyn (Elizabeth), Abortion Center a/k/a American Women’s Services of Englewood, Princeton Women’s Services a/k/a American Women’s Services in Hamilton, and American Women’s Services shops in Voorhees, Tom’s River and Woodbridge.

Among America’s most notorious abortionists, Mr. Brigham continues to operate abortuaries in Delaware and Virginia, and his Pensacola metal-garage abortuary is still in business despite his having lost his Florida license.


Are You Sending Mr. Smith to Washington?

Oct. 22, 2014, BreakPoint commentary by Eric Metaxas, published at

Seventy-five years ago this month, a big movie premiere took place at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Nearly 300 Members of Congress were there to see the first screening of Frank Capra’s new film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart in the title role.

You probably have warm and fuzzy memories of this great patriotic movie. A lot of people do. We tend to remember all its inspiring, triumphant moments and how it made us feel good about our country.

But that was not the case for many of the Senators and Representatives who were there in the audience on that October day in 1939.

My colleague Gina Dalfonzo recently wrote about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as part of BreakPoint’s Films of 1939 series at our website. She says that when it opened, “Mr. Smith was seen as anything but warm and sentimental. Gritty, dark and dangerous were more like it. Members of Congress protested it, journalists warned against it, and Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, the father of JFK, tried to shut down its European release.”

You see, the thing that viewers tend to forget about Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is the very dark picture it painted of our government at work. Widespread bribery, kickbacks, forgeries, perjury, smear campaigns and general corruption form the background for this tale of the young Senator Jefferson Smith’s idealism. And it all comes very close to destroying Jeff when he refuses to give in and go along with the crowd.

Sounds depressingly like the state of politics today, doesn’t it?

But that’s exactly why Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is such an important and timeless film. Frank Capra offers a truly realistic vision here of the political process and the temptations that come with power – and how easy it is to succumb to those temptations.

Jefferson Smith’s idol-turned-nemesis, Senator Paine, represents the politician who compromises his ethics in order to try to accomplish some vague and nebulous greater good … and in the process, bring profits to himself and his friends. It’s a type we know far too well. That’s precisely what makes Jeff, the hero who refuses to compromise, so appealing to generation after generation. We recognize our desperate need for public figures like this – public figures who hold fast to their ideals and don’t sell out – at the same time we realize just how rare they are.

Yes, Frank Capra and his star Jimmy Stewart were true patriots. As Gina writes, “Capra was able to make this film so good, because he believed in the American ideal and understood how easily it could be co-opted and undermined by the unscrupulous and the greedy. America, he’s telling us, should be celebrated because it’s the kind of country that can produce a Jefferson Smith; but at the same time, we must always be on our guard, because it’s also capable of destroying one.”

All of this helps explain why Chuck Colson included this film on his list of 50 Films Every Christian Should See, citing its “serious and inspiring treatment of moral themes.”

If you haven’t yet watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington with your family, maybe it’s time to think about doing that – especially as a new 75th Anniversary Edition of the movie will be coming out soon. No, it’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy experience, but its powerful themes constitute a message we cannot afford to forget. Even at 75 years old, it’s still a film for our time.


It All Comes Down to Common Sense

Oct. 28, 2014, commentary by Brandi Swindell, CEO, Stanton Healthcare Pregnancy Resource Center in Boise, Idaho, via Christian Newswire

Even though abortion can be controversial and divisive, most Americans from Hillary Clinton to Pres. Obama agree that abortions should be rare. Sadly, Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the world, disagrees. Planned Parenthood performs over 330,000 abortions annually (915 a day) in America alone. 92% of all pregnant women who go to Planned Parenthood get an abortion, and for every 145 abortions performed, Planned Parenthood only makes one adoption referral.

It’s important to recognize that Planned Parenthood and their supporters (like Idaho candidates Holli High Woodings and Deborah Silver) are extreme when it comes to the issue of abortion.

Candidate Woodings has both given money to Planned Parenthood and received financial support from the abortion industry. And candidate Silver serves on the board of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, helping oversee abortion clinics in three states including Idaho, Washington and Alaska. It’s an understatement to say that Woodings and Silver are radical in their advocacy for abortion by aligning themselves with Planned Parenthood. What is most troubling, as they run for public office, is that their support for abortion is contrary to what most Idahoans and Americans believe.

In a recent national poll, 84% of Americans support significant abortion restrictions, including nearly six in ten of those who identify as strongly pro-choice. For example, 79% of pro-choice respondents believed there should be a 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion, and 80% support parental notifications. In a Gallup poll, pro-choice Americans are at a record low, while 50% of Americans identify themselves as pro-life.

Why are Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby running extremist pro-choice candidates in Idaho? The abortion rights movement is losing ground and should be concerned. That’s why abortion rights activists were thrilled to find their abortion rights cheerleader in Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, who fought against 20-week abortion regulations. However, Davis and the like have lost respect and supporters because of their radical pro-choice positions. Voters are rejecting these types of abortion candidates.

People are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of an abortion, including women suffering from short-term and long-term physical and psychological problems. These women are speaking out in droves.

Women deserve better and more options. Every woman should have access to quality healthcare and compassionate alternatives to abortion. Women like Melissa, who states, “With all the certainty I felt at that time that I had to terminate my pregnancy, there was a small part of me that simply wanted some hope. I found hope – and much more – from the staff and resources at Stanton Healthcare. The volunteers personally went out of their way to help me find the baby items I needed. And most of all, the staff and volunteers provided me with a sincere and loving support system that I desperately needed. Today, I have a happy and healthy eight-month-old baby who has changed things forever, and I cannot imagine my life without him.”

Elected officials should support policies, programs and centers that offer real assistance, compassionate care and hope to women. Our candidates need to align themselves with (and represent) the views of Idahoans and Americans on the issue of abortion.

Can a candidate really even call herself “pro-choice” when they only support “one choice” by partnering with the largest abortion provider in the world? …

As women, we should never forget the legacy of America’s first women’s rights convention held in Seneca Falls in 1848. Early leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony advocated for justice and the rights of women while embracing motherhood. They fought for equality, working towards a brighter future for women, and advocated for our voice in the public arena. As we continue the cause, let us be reminded of Mother Teresa’s powerful words: “Abortion is profoundly anti-women. Three-quarters of its victims are women; half the babies and all the mothers.”