Life Advocacy Briefing

December 15, 2014

Disappointing / Appealing to the Secretary / Welcome, Dr. Senator!
Victories in Vermont / Gruber’s Arrogance
Enforce the Law, Madam Secretary!


LEADERS OF THE TWO PARTIES IN BOTH HOUSES on Capitol Hill last week agreed to a spending measure to keep the federal government humming along until the end of the 2015 Fiscal Year, which closes Sept. 30. The GOP Leadership, which is slated to take control of both houses in early January, opted to give the Obama Regime a continuation of its current spending patterns and devote its coming session to appropriations and policy issues for FY 2016 instead, which begins nearly halfway through the term to which November voters elected them.

Granting that Senate Democrats, who still control the upper chamber until Jan. 6, would have balked – and no doubt did – at any reform or compromise on which GOP Leaders might have insisted, no public remarks suggested any efforts were made to reflect the will expressed so clearly by the voters just weeks ago.

The omnibus continuing funding resolution “has mixed results for pro-life and pro-family advocates,” opines Dustin Siggins in a comprehensive report for “It called for the Obama Administration to make it easier for consumers to know if their insurance plan covers abortion,” he reports, “as well as increasing funding for abstinence education,” another pro-life goal.

“But the bill also compelled taxpayers to pay for abortions for Peace Corps workers in some circumstances,” notes Mr Siggins, “stripped out a measure defending Catholic churches from being compelled to fund abortion, and did not cut any funding of international population control measures.” One can only imagine the President vetoing the entire package in the event such pathetically modest pro-life reforms had been addressed – and then proclaiming Republicans had blocked the continued funding of the government!

The left-out church protection provision was especially urgent because of a new California law compelling employers – including even churches and Christian organizations – to cover elective abortions in their employee health insurance plans. Some churches and insurance providers in California have filed suit, citing the Weldon Amendment, a long-standing federal appropriations provision which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions even in federally-aided state programs.

Codifying the Weldon Amendment into permanent law – rather than continuing to seek its incorporation in the Health & Human Services (HHS) spending measure each year – has been a major objective of Life advocates in the 113th Congress through a measure titled the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. ANDA has passed the House but languishes in the Senate.

When the intent to use a nine-month continuing resolution became apparent, pro-life advocates fought to incorporate ANDA enforcement in the spending measure, but it was not included, reports LifeSiteNews.

“‘We need A.N.D.A.,’” said Casey Mattox, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing petitioners in the California lawsuit. Quoted by Mr. Siggins, Mr. Mattox said, “‘What we got was an Explanatory Statement in the budget that basically instructs HHS to enforce the Weldon Amendment and respond to the complaints,’” something which is already the duty of the massive federal bureaucracy.

Mr. Mattox conceded the House-inserted Weldon Amendment instruction “is ‘slightly better than just, “Hey, please process these complaints,’” reports Mr. Siggins. “‘It’s fair to say that this is the House saying to California, “Please enforce the Weldon Amendment,”’ [Mr.] Mattox said. ‘However, without ANDA, you’re still at the mercy of hoping that Obama will uphold federal law on this,’ said [Mr.] Mattox, who was critical,” writes Mr. Siggins, “of the Obama Administration’s past unwillingness to uphold federal law on abortion.”

Given that the House GOP Leadership cited pro-life protections in their own statement announcing the compromise measure, we can only hope their zeal for pro-life legislation – including reforms in federal spending proposals – will be more substantively apparent when House and Senate take up FY2016 appropriations bills and substantive legislation in the 114th Congress on the horizon. Lives are at stake with each passing day.


Appealing to the Secretary

REP. JOHN FLEMING (R-LA) HAS SECURED MORE THAN 100 SIGNATURES from House colleagues on a letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, urging the HHS manager to enforce the Weldon Amendment barring federally aided states from coercing employer-funded abortion insurance coverage. We publish the letter at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing.

Dr. Fleming’s co-signers are Republican Representatives Robert Aderholt, Bradley Byrne & Martha Roby (AL); Trent Franks, Paul Gosar, Matt Salmon & David Schweikert (AZ); Tom Cotton, Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin & Steve Womack (AR); Duncan Hunter, Doug LaMalfa, Tom McClintock, Dana Rohrabacher & David Valadao (CA); Doug Lamborn (CO); Gus Bilirakis, Curt Clawson, Ander Crenshaw, Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Jeff Miller, Tom Rooney, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Daniel Webster & Ted Yoho (FL); Paul Broun, Doug Collins, Tom Graves, Jack Kingston, Tom Price, Austin Scott & Rob Woodall (GA); Raul Labrador (ID); Randy Hultgren & Peter Roskam (IL); Larry Bucshon, Todd Rokita, Marlin Stutzman, Jackie Walorski & Todd Young (IN); Tim Huelskamp, Lynn Jenkins, Mike Pompeo & Kevin Yoder (KS); Andy Barr, Brett Guthrie & Thomas Massie (KY); Dr. Charles Boustany, Dr. Bill Cassidy & Steve Scalise (LA);

And GOP Representatives Dr. Andy Harris (MD); Justin Amash, Dr. Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga, Candice Miller, Mike Rogers & Tim Walberg (MI); Michele Bachmann & John Kline (MN); Gregg Harper, Alan Nunnelee & Steven Palazzo (MS); Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer & Ann Wagner (MO); Steve Daines (MT); Jeff Fortenberry & Adrian Smith (NE); Scott Garrett & Chris Smith (NJ); Steve Pearce (NM); Renee Ellmers, Virginia Foxx, Richard Hudson, Walter Jones, Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows & Robert Pittenger (NC); Kevin Cramer (ND); Steve Chabot, Bob Gibbs, Bill Johnson, Jim Jordan, David Joyce, Robert Latta, Brad Wenstrup (OH); Tom Cole, James Lankford, Markwayne Mullin (OK); Lou Barletta, Mike Kelly, Tom Marino, Scott Perry, Keith Rothfus & Glenn Thompson (PA); Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy & Joe Wilson (SC); Kristi Noem (SD);

And finally, GOP Representatives Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn, Scott DesJarlais, Stephen Fincher, Dr. Phil Roe, Lamar Smith  (TN); Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, John Carter, Michael Conaway, Bill Flores, Louie Gohmert, Kay Granger, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Olson, Lamar Smith & Randy Weber (TX); Chris Stewart (UT); Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith & Frank Wolf (VA); Cathy McMorris Rogers (WA); Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble & James Sensenbrenner (WI); and Cynthia Lummis (WY).

Also, Democratic Representative Dan Lipinski (IL).


Welcome, Dr. Senator!

OUR CONGRATULATIONS TO G.O.P. REP. BILL CASSIDY and to the voters of Louisiana, who chose the three-term conservative Congressman to replace liberal 18-year Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in the Dec. 6 run-off election.

The Cassidy election brings the GOP dominance of the 2015-2016 Senate to 54 seats out of the 100, and the Landrieu defeat brings to 30 – exactly half – the number of ObamaCare-voting Democratic Senators who will have left office by Jan. 6.

Representative Cassidy’s 12-point victory, reports Dustin Siggins for, “was praised by Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, who said that ‘as a physician, Bill Cassidy has a unique understanding of the value and dignity of every human life.’”

Saying she was “‘encouraged by [Dr. Cassidy’s] victory,’” Mrs. Dannenfelser, writes Mr. Siggins, “noted that [Dr.] Cassidy ‘voted for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,’ which would ban most abortions at 20 week’s gestation,” that is, five months.

Louisiana Right to Life executive director Ben Clapper released a statement quoted by LifeSiteNews, which declared, “‘Louisiana will now be represented by two pro-life US Senators.”  Dr. Cassidy joins two-term GOP Senator David Vitter.

“‘The outcome … bolsters the pro-life advantage in the Senate,’” noted Mr. Clapper, quoted by Mr. Siggins, “‘strengthening hope for progress in life-saving legislation and hopefully a more pro-life Supreme Court in the future.’” The Louisiana Right to Life statement noted Dr. Cassidy’s “‘100% pro-life record in Congress’” and added the organization’s leaders “‘look forward to working with him to advance the culture of life in the Senate.’”


Victories in Vermont

THE RIGHT TO LIFE GOT A BOOST from Vermont voters in November, reported last week by Kirsten Anderson of

The most vocal advocate for the 2013 passage of Vermont’s legislation authorizing doctor-abetted suicide, State Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson, had “repeatedly said she was ‘doing this for my Dad, who was a member of the Hemlock Society,’” notes Ms. Anderson, who added the state representative “made her support for the [measure] a major focus of her re-election campaign.” In a two-seat district, the outspoken liberal achieved a fourth-place finish. She had been a Vermont lawmaker from a Burlington district since 2009.

Also in House elections, State Rep. Cindy Weed, a Progressive Party member from far northwest Vermont since 2009, “lost 59% to 45% to an opponent” of the legalization law, reports National Right to Life’s NRL Today. She was “the only member in her county to vote in favor” of legalizing doctor-patient-killing.

But the victories did not stop with the Vermont House.  Gov. Peter Shumlin (D), who, writes Ms. Anderson, “led the fight to pass Act 39, … barely survived” his 2014 re-election battle which, she writes, “should have been an easy re-election battle against his Republican challenger, a political newcomer who entered the race late and with very little funding. Instead,” writes Ms. Anderson, “he barely survived the race, winning by only a few thousand votes, and is likely to lose his position as chair[man] of the Democrat Governors Assn.”

And then there’s the lieutenant governor contest, where, reports Ms. Anderson, “Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, who opposed Act 39, faced a campaign onslaught by the pro-suicide ‘Patient Choices Vermont PAC.’ He was outspent by his nearest challenger, Dean Corren, who was a primary proponent of assisted suicide during his time in the state legislature. Even so,” writes Ms. Anderson, “[Mr.] Scott defeated [Mr. Corren] by more than two-to-one.”

Bet you didn’t read any of that in the nation’s major media. But good news is worth reporting – and repeating. Pass the word.


Gruber’s Arrogance

OBAMACARE CONSULTANT JONATHAN GRUBER HAS BEEN UNMASKED yet further in a report by Center for Family & Human Rights president Austin Ruse, published by news service.

It seems the notoriously arrogant Mr. Gruber is more than a socialized-healthcare fan; he is also “an abortion advocate,” writes Mr. Ruse. “But not a run-of-the-mill advocate of ‘women’s rights.’

“No, Gruber’s abortion advocacy is of a particularly pungent eugenics variety,” notes Mr. Ruse. “He’s on record repeatedly making the case from social science that abortion is a ‘social good’ because it reduces the number of ‘marginal children,’ by which he means urban poor – those he says can be counted on to commit crimes if they were ever born.

“Gruber co-authored a paper during the Clinton years which argued that legal abortion had saved the US taxpayer upwards of $14 billion in welfare benefits and that it also lowered crime.”

His opinions – drawing fawning fanship from his credentials as a thinker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – “heavily influenced other researchers,” notes Mr. Ruse, “including a paper called ‘The Impact of Legalized Abortion’ by Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago, whose later book Freakonomics and whose ongoing work makes the strongest case that abortion legalizations in the 1970s caused a dramatic drop in crime 20 years later.”

Mr. Levitt’s “work,” in turn, has long been exposed as a twisted form of intellectual fiction. And now, thanks to Austin Ruse and to Jonathan Gruber’s sudden notoriety, we know who its uber-arrogant source was, and we are reminded of the intellectual arrogance which underlies the abortion “rights” crowd.


Enforce the Law, Madam Secretary!

Text of Nov. 25, 2014, Congressional letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell

On August 22, 2014, the California Dept. of Managed Health Care (DMHC) issued a directive requiring that all insurance plans under DMHC authority immediately include coverage for abortion in all circumstances – including plans that previously contained an approved abortion exclusion – without exception. As a result, individuals, churches, religious charities and other employers who had entered into insurance plan contracts specifically to exclude abortion services are now being forced to pay for the destruction of innocent human life.

The California mandate is a clear violation of long-standing federal law, the Weldon Amendment conscience clause, which has been included in the Labor/Health & Human Services appropriations acts. The Weldon Amendment specifies that funds may not be made available to a state government that discriminates against an entity that refuses to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion. The amendment also clarifies that these protections include health insurance plans.

In 2011, the Administration issued final regulations regarding enforcement of the Weldon Amendment designating the Office for Civil Rights within the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) as the recipient of and arbiter for Weldon Amendment complaints. With regard to states violating the policy, the narrative accompanying the final regulation explained:

            “If the Department becomes aware that a state or local government or an entity may have undertaken activities that may violate the statutory conscience protections, the Department will work with such government or entity to assist such government or entity to comply with or come into compliance with such requirements or prohibitions if, despite the Department’s assistance, compliance is not achieved, the Department will consider all legal options, including termination of funding, return of funds paid out in violation of healthcare provider conscience protection provisions under 45CFR Parts 74, 92 and 96 as applicable.”…

HHS has been made aware that California’s actions are in direct violation of the Weldon Amendment. In fact, at least three separate complaints associated with the California abortion mandate have been filed with the Office of Civil Rights. Complainants include the California Catholic Conference; employees of Loyola Marymount University; Skyline Church in LaMesa; Foothill Church and Foothill Christian School in Glendora; Alpine Christian Fellowship in ElCajon; The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch; City View Church in SanDiego; Faith Baptist Church in SantaBarbara; and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino.

There can be no more absolute form of discrimination against a health plan that excludes abortion than a government policy forbidding the very existence of such life-affirming health plans. California’s sweeping abortion mandate is forcing churches, individuals and employers with deeply held moral and religious views on life to fund abortion-on-demand through their health insurance policies. Forcing pastors, teachers, social service providers and Catholic institutions to pay for abortion should be unthinkable.

The Weldon Amendment must be enforced. This assault on conscience rights is already having a significant impact. Churches and other institutions have had abortion coverage added to their health insurance policies, effective August 2014, without their consent and are now funding abortion contrary to deeply held beliefs.

We are concerned that HHS has failed to bring this discriminatory practice to a halt and as a result, we urge you to take action immediately. We respectfully request that you provide information about the steps HHS has taken to bring DMHC into compliance with the Weldon Amendment, as well as your plans to enforce the amendment if the issue is not addressed quickly.

We look forward to your response no later than Dec. 12, 2014.


John Fleming, MD, Member of Congress
Co-signers published above in “Appealing to the Secretary”