Life Advocacy Briefing

June 13, 2016

Major Protestant Denomination Rejects Abortion Lobby
Rep. Ellmers Meets Her Fate / House Panel Seeks Agency Probe / Ohio Blinks
Come On! / Words Can Warp

Major Protestant Denomination Rejects Abortion Lobby

IN A STUNNING VOTE on May 19, the United Methodist Church withdrew long-standing support from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), formerly known more honestly as Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. The denomination was a founding member of the RCAR in 1973; the coalition’s name was changed in 1993 to contribute to the abortion industry’s donning of sheep’s clothing.

Participating Methodist entities have been the United Methodist Board of Church & Society and the United Methodist Women, but the delegates to the church’s quadrennial General Conference voted 425 to 268 (61% to 39%), as noted by National Right to Life News Today columnist Dave Andrusko, “that [the] two UM entities withdraw immediately from membership” in the radical abortion lobby tool.

“A second petition deleting language supporting RCRC from the Book of Resolutions also passed,” reports Kathy L. Gilbert, writing the official church news release via the United Methodist News Service (UMNS).

The church’s General Conference delegates have debated maintaining official Methodist membership in the lobby group every four years beginning in 2004, according to Ms. Gilbert. The debates came, she writes, “because some church members disagree with the coalition’s position on abortion. The argument to stay,” she notes, “[was] to have ‘a voice at the table.’”

Noted West Ohio delegate Katherine Rohrs, quoted by Ms. Gilbert, “‘We have been saying we need to be at the table because our voice matters, but nothing,’” she said, “‘has changed.’”

And that canard no longer works. “‘The time has come to withdraw,’” Ms. Gilbert quotes Rev. Beth Ann Cook of the Indiana Conference as asserting. “The United Methodist Church’s positions on abortion differ,” writes Ms. Gilbert, “from some of the policies of the coalition. [Rev. Cook] pointed,” she writes, “to RCRC supporting gender-selection abortions and late-term abortions.”

Indeed, RCRC was among the abortion industry tools which refused to support the banning of partial-birth abortion, an abortion practice so horrific that even the US Supreme Court endorsed the mid-1990s federal law banning the mid-delivery killing of helpless little boys and girls.

A delegate from Iowa, quoted by Ms. Gilbert, was even more direct than the lady from Indiana. Said delegate Darcy Lynn Rubenking: “‘Abortion is murder. I don’t want the name of my church or finances associated with RCRC.’” Right on, sister!

The best argument the church’s abortion advocates could muster, apparently, was this feeble excuse, reported straight, of course, by UMNS in Ms. Gilbert’s release: “The Coalition,” according to Rev. Rebecca Girrell of the New England Conference, whose remarks were paraphrased by Ms. Gilbert, “provides a religious voice on the issue of reproductive health care for all women. They provide training for churches to talk to people who may be considering an abortion or have had an abortion, she said.” Right; just imagine the content of that “training” from a lobby group determined to keep abortion legal!

The New England delegate went on to claim that the Methodist Church’s own position on abortion “‘is carefully nuanced.’” And she claimed, quoted by Ms. Gilbert, “‘RCRC does not speak for the United Methodist Church, but we speak to it.’”

RCRC, of course, does claim to represent the views of its members in its lobbying activities; that, indeed, is its design and purpose. And that is what a “coalition” does.


Rep. Ellmers Meets Her Fate

LAST TUESDAY’s PRIMARY TOOK DOWN A G.O.P. INCUMBENT who had crossed her own commitment to the cause of Life at the opening of this term in 2015.

Though Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC) had campaigned as a “pro-life nurse aligned with the Tea Party when she first sought office in 2010,” notes reporter Ben Johnson, she “led a House revolt against the bill designed to end abortions after 20 weeks,” the lead-off legislation which was supposed to be called for a vote on the Jan. 22, 2015, anniversary of Roe v. Wade while hundreds of thousands of pro-life citizens were marching in the streets of Washington. But because of her demands related to a rape exception, passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act had to be delayed for months, upsetting the prospects for a robust session of pro-life gains. She later voted for the measure, but the damage had been done.

Rep. Ellmers appeared taken aback by the reaction to her sudden revolt. She “responded to objections from the pro-life community,” writes Mr. Johnson, “by saying, ‘I am appalled by the abhorrent and childish behaviors from some of the leaders of’ the right to life movement.”

Though Rep. Ellmers won her first primary in 2010 with 55% of the vote, her second in 2012 with 56% and her third in 2014 with 58% of the primary vote, she fell last Tuesday to fellow incumbent Rep. George Holding (R), who took her on after redistricting and who has served in the House since 2013 with, notes Mr. Johnson, “a 100% score” from National Right to Life on what the organization calls “‘key votes.’” She lost Tuesday’s primary by nearly 30 points, barely easing ahead of a third-place candidate.

Among the pro-life organizations which put resources into the defeat of their former ally was the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), which told Mr. Johnson it had “contacted more than 215,000 people in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. ‘Susan B. Anthony List exists to support and amplify pro-life women’s voices,’” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, herself a North Carolinian, in the LifeSiteNews report. “‘Rep. Ellmers was our ally until she led the charge to derail the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. That’s why we had to flex the political muscle of the pro-life movement,’” she said. Some other groups, such as Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth, also targeted Rep. Ellmers on other concerns.

Also in last Tuesday’s GOP primary, Rep. Chris Smith (NJ), who chairs the House Pro-Life Caucus, handily defeated primary challenger Bruce MacDonald, whom Mr. Johnson calls “a self-described ‘Trumpster’ [who] runs a jewelry store in the [mid-state New Jersey 4th] district. [Mr. MacDonald] said,” writes Mr. Johnson, “though he is personally opposed to abortion, he believes it should be legally available but hopes women will use contraception instead. ‘That’s why it’s called Planned Parenthood,’ he told local media,” according to LifeSiteNews. In the two-man race, voters nominated Rep. Smith to a 19th term, by a 92-to-8 margin.


House Panel Seeks Agency Probe

THE U.S. HOUSE’s SELECT INVESTIGATIVE PANEL ON INFANT LIVES has sent a letter, signed by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), to the Office of Centralized Case Management Operations at the Dept. of Health & Human Services, calling on HHS “to investigate potential violations of federal law by StemExpress and a number of abortion clinics,” according to a news release from the Panel. Though not identified in the letter, many of those abortion clinics are affiliated with Planned Parenthood, whose shocking involvement in baby-body-parts trafficking caused Congress to initiate the investigation.

The letter presents evidence uncovered by the Panel’s probe “that shows StemExpress and the abortion clinics violated the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA),” notes the news release. “The HIPAA privacy rule is a patients’ rights law.”

The Panel’s news release about the letter charges also that StemExpress “violated federal regulations governing Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) by using the appearance of compliance with the regulations while fraudulently using invalid consent forms, and misleading scientific researchers to believe it had a valid IRB approval. …

“‘The key to understanding the HIPAA and consent violations that we’ve referred to HHS,’” said Chairman Blackburn in the Panel news release, “‘is that there’s a business contract between StemExpress and the abortion clinics under which both sides make a profit from the baby body parts inside the young woman’s womb. … The contract,’” she asserted, “‘changes the way both entities view the young woman; her baby is now a profit center.

“‘This betrayal of a young woman’s trust should disgust us all,’” said Rep. Blackburn. “‘It takes financial advantage, obtains consent through coercion and deceives the woman, all in violation of federal privacy laws.’”


Ohio Blinks

JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME, Ohio Dept. of Health Director Richard Hodges extended the variance his office had previously granted Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio to carry on its baby-killing business despite its “non-compliance,” notes writer Fr. Mark Hodges, “with the law requiring surgical facilities to have a patient-transfer agreement with a local hospital in case of an emergency.”

The variance extension, granted on the date of its expiration, permits the abortuary in Cincinnati-suburban Mount Auburn to continue in business without compliance until May 31, 2017.

Director Hodges “wrote in an explanatory letter,” notes LifeSiteNews, “that he gave the variance because the abortion business listed four doctors who agreed to give ‘backup care.’”

But pro-life leaders in the Cincinnati area “felt betrayed by the Kasich Administration,” writes the LifeSiteNews reporter, “which continues to claim to be pro-life. ‘No hospital in Greater Cincinnati, including northern Kentucky, will enter into a transfer agreement with Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio’s abortion headquarters in Cincinnati,’ Paula Westwood, executive director of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati, told LifeSiteNews.

“‘This indicates a concern on the part of the area’s leading professional healthcare entities,’” she said, “‘regarding the legitimacy of care clients actually receive at this abortion facility. Yet the Ohio Dept. of Health continues to enable Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati to operate,’” she said, “‘despite no transfer agreement and without a license, at risk to women’s health and safety.’”

Not wanting to be taken so close again to the brink, Planned Parenthood and a second Ohio abortion shop are suing the state, reports Fr. Hodges, “over a new law automatically denying variances if the Dept. of Health does not respond in 60 days.”

Though US District Judge Michael Barrett has issued a preliminary injunction indicating abortionists were “likely to succeed” in their attempt to overturn the law, reports Fr. Hodges, “Assistant Ohio Atty. General Nicole M. Koppitch wrote in response to the suit, ‘If the clinics have their way …, facilities that lack an important safety requirement would be permitted to continue to operate and to continue putting patients at risk. It is precisely this concern that the automatic suspension provision seeks to prevent.’”


Come On!

SOME LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS APPEAR TO BE DONNING SHEEP’s CLOTHING on the abortion issue. At least that is how a report from Rachel Stoltzfoos in the Daily Caller appears to be hinting.

Though the legislature has recently sent Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) two solid pro-life bills on which we have recently reported, another bill has now gone to the governor’s desk – this one with a twist.

“Just before sending [the measure] to the governor’s desk,” writes Ms. Stoltzfoos, “Louisiana lawmakers made sure an abortion ‘ban’ they passed will not stop a single abortion from happening.

“The bill would have banned abortion procedures undertaken because the unborn child has a genetic defect,” reports the Daily Caller, “but lawmakers adopted language at the last minute stipulating the ban only applies once the woman is 20 weeks along – at which point all abortions are already banned in the state.” The pulling of the legislation’s teeth occurred in the state senate, but when the undercut version came back to the House, its sponsor, Rep. Rick Edmonds “urged his fellow lawmakers to accept the language added by the Senate,” writes Ms. Stoltzfoos, “although it completely gutted the bill,” claiming it was “important ‘to get the policy started.’”

In reality, trying to fool voters into thinking the legislature has passed a law protecting unborn babies when the legislation will have no effect is actually setting back the eventual passage of Mr. Edmonds’s original legislation.


Words Can Warp

May 27, 2016, Commentary by Wesley J. Smith, reprinted from

Words matter. The terminology we employ not only reflects our values but helps to define them. Language is particularly important in bioethical debates, in which dehumanizing verbiage can distance us from our fellow human beings.

When embryonic stem-cell research was in the news, we were told constantly by scientists and the media that an early embryo was “just a ball of cells” that didn’t even “look human.” We even heard that human life had no actual beginning, since we had all evolved from bacteria floating in a primordial sea.

But the fact that a young organism does not yet look as it will at maturity doesn’t make it a non-organism. When we were early embryos, we each were the same organism that we are now. And a human embryo is far more than a bunch of cells. As the Stanford bioethicist William Hurlbut has stated eloquently: “By its very nature, an embryo is a developing being. Its wholeness is defined by both its manifest expression and its latent potential; it is the phase of human life in which the “whole” (as the unified organismal principle of growth) precedes and produces its organic parts. … To be a human organism is to be a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens, with a human present and a human future evident in the intrinsic potential for the manifestation of the species-typical form.”

Distancing terminology also finds voice among abortion-rights advocates who refuse to use the word “baby,” favoring instead the medical term “fetus” for the being extinguished by a surgical abortion. These same advocates never call a newborn a “neonate” – even though that is the proper medical term – because the dehumanization of both infants does not directly serve the pro-abortion agenda. (Some advocates in bioethics, though, do call newborn babies “nonpersons” in order to justify infanticide.)

Words also have the power to degrade the human dignity of born and grown people. A classic example is the pejorative term “vegetable,” referring to those with severe cognitive disabilities and impairments. Even the diagnostic term used to describe the condition of permanently unconscious patients – “persistent vegetative state” – is pejorative, perhaps the only explicitly demeaning medical term. (Why not use the perfectly accurate “persistent unconscious state”?)

The V-word has the effect – and in some cases, indeed, the purpose – of excluding these human beings from the moral community and exposing them to oft-proposed forms of oppression and exploitation, such as allowing them to be used for live-organ harvesting and as subjects in medical experimentation.

We see the same phenomenon in our debates around end-of-life care and assisted suicide. The Dutch euthanasia practitioner Dr. M.A.M. Wachter, ethicist/director for the Institute of Health in the Netherlands, made this point explicitly when he appeared at a 1990 international euthanasia society convention. “The definitions build the road to euthanasia,” he stated, explaining that even the word “euthanasia” (“good death”) could harm the cause, because people naturally recoil from the killing act.

Thus, Wachter urged his audience to prevaricate and obfuscate: “Definitions are not neutral. They are not just the innocent tools that allow us to describe reality. Rather, they shape our perceptions of reality. They select; they emphasize; they embody a bias. Therefore, definitions constantly need redefinition.”

This is precisely why the Hemlock Society, an assisted suicide advocacy organization, changed its name to Compassion & Choices and now deploys the euphemism “Aid in Dying” in its media and advocacy materials.

In these times, language as an accurate conveyor of ideas is under constant assault. Knowing this, we must strive to keep our language precise and descriptive, particularly when it comes to controversies surrounding human dignity. We should be vigilant against words that dehumanize weak and vulnerable people and suspicious of rhetoric that masks movements’ real goals. We should be wary of words that serve as honey to make the hemlock go down.