Life Advocacy Briefing

July 18, 2016

House Passes Conscience Protection Bill / Renegades Wreck Senate’s Foreign Aid Bill
Taking Sides / Commanding Neutrality While Exhibiting Bias
Quoteworthy / Proudly Pro-Life

House Passes Conscience Protection Bill

BEFORE LEAVING ON A SUMMER RECESS, which begins today, the US House last week passed a major pro-life measure, the Conscience Protection Act of 2016, by a vote of 245 to 182. The roll call was largely partisan, with New York Rep. Richard Hanna breaking with the GOP by voting against S-304 and three Democrats – Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL), Collin Peterson (MN) and Henry Cuellar (TX) – voting in favor.

We will publish the voting records on final passage and on various procedural motions leading to its consideration, in future editions of Life Advocacy Briefing, as space permits.

The bill is a rebuke to the Obama Regime, which has begun forcing Catholic institutions, such as two universities in California, to include abortion coverage in health insurance plans. Recent assaults on religious liberty in the abortion-coverage arena prompted Rick Hinshaw of the Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights to tell, “‘The Conscience Protection Act should not even be necessary and wouldn’t be if laws already passed – not to mention the religious liberty enshrined in our Constitution – were being respected. But the current Administration, led by the Dept. of Health & Human Services, has been engaging in a frontal assault on religious freedom and conscience protections, particularly with regard to abortion.’

“[Mr.] Hinshaw charged,” reports LifeSiteNews, “that the Obama Administration is ‘threatening to undermine the moral and ethical principles that are the very essence of Catholic health care and that make Catholic healthcare institutions such vital and sought-after resources for millions of Americans.’”

But the radicalism of the Obama Regime on abortion is clearly intentional. Even before House passage – and certainly before the Senate acts – Pres. Obama has already threatened to veto the bill, should it reach his desk, “because,” reports LifeSiteNews, “it ‘would have the consequence of limiting women’s healthcare choices.’”

His extremism was abetted by several House Democrats during the floor debate on the measure. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), for example, was quoted by LifeSiteNews declaring “Pro-life lawmakers secretly hope ‘to use the premise of religion to allow further discrimination against women. We must not let them succeed,’” he said, quoted by LifeSiteNews. And he went on to declare, “‘We see your bias. We see your intent. And we won’t let you enshrine discrimination into federal law.’”

Actually, what the bill does is to secure permanent codification of a long-standing policy, the Weldon Amendment, which passes every year since 2004 “but which Republicans and the US Catholic bishops say the Obama Administration has ignored,” reports LifeSiteNews.

Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ) played a familiar tune, asking in floor debate and quoted in the LifeSiteNews report, “‘When will the Republicans’ war on women ever end?’” His supposed question drew immediate response from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), who, reports LifeSiteNews, “called his argument ‘disgusting’ and a ‘red herring. … This bill would allow employers to continue to have the freedom to decline to pay for abortions,’ she said” in House debate. “‘Conservatives don’t ask for bosses to purchase weapons protected under the Second Amendment,’” she said. “‘Why must my progressive colleagues ask private citizens to pay for the death of a child?’”

House Pro-Life Caucus Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) also joined the fray, declaring, reports LifeSiteNews, “‘This is about private health insurance plans of Catholic dioceses, religious schools and others who have been ordered to violate their deeply held convictions. … The Obama Administration’s refusal to enforce the civil right of conscience is not only unfair and unjustified,’” he noted, “‘it violates the rule of law.’”

The bill also protects the conscience rights of medical professionals not to be involved in committing abortions.

Among the GOP speakers standing up to the belly-aching Democrats was Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), a nurse and one of the original sponsors of the bill as first filed in the House. According to the LifeSiteNews report, Rep. Black said “Democrats who call themselves ‘pro-choice’ must protect ‘the other right to choose as well: the right not to choose to partner in the practice of abortion.’”

The measure, which originated in the Senate with entirely different content and which is sponsored there by Sen. John Thune, a pro-life Republican from South Dakota, will now go back to the Senate for consideration of the House-amended version.

Further detail and perspective on the measure – and on the issue generally – can be found in an excellent report by Ramona Tausz in The Federalist. We commend it to our readers’ attention.


Renegades Wreck Senate’s Foreign Aid Bill

THE SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HAS ADVANCED a foreign aid spending bill (S-3117) which would add $161 million to overseas “family planning” grants spending, appropriate $37.5 million to the scandalous UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and repeal the Mexico City Policy which, since the days of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, has barred US aid to abortion-committing and/or -advocating organizations overseas.

The massive spending measure has yet to be considered by the full Senate, but it was damaged in committee by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) with votes from GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski AK), Mark Kirk (IL) and Susan Collins (ME). Those three renegade Republicans, added to the votes of the panel’s Democrats, produced a 17-to-13 margin; had they voted with their party, the vote on “Shaheen” would have failed 14 to 16.

The House will also take up a State Department appropriation measure, and differences in the two bills would be resolved later, probably in September. Reporting on the controversy for the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-Fam), Lisa Correnti predicts “It is highly unlikely House Leadership will accept the permanent repeal of the Mexico City Policy.” We hope House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will also reject increases in “family planning” spending in the foreign aid budget as well as funding for the Red China-abetting UNFPA.


Taking Sides

THE G.O.P. PLATFORM COMMITTEE HAS BOLSTERED an already powerful pro-life plank in its draft proposal, which will be offered for adoption this week by the full Republican National Convention meeting in Cleveland.

In addition to “reiterat[ing] the party’s call for a Constitutional amendment to protect unborn life from the moment of conception, which has been in every Republican Party platform since 1980,” notes, “it also states that national leaders should refuse to furnish ‘public funds’ to organizations that ‘perform or advocate’ abortion. The text,” reports LifeSiteNews, “specifies Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, by name.”

Exulting in last week’s strengthening of the pro-life plank, Operation Rescue president Troy Newman declared, reports LifeSiteNews, “‘We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland,’” where the GOP convention officially opens today. “‘This shows that the pro-life movement is strong, influential and here to stay until abortion is banned permanently.’”

Here is the draft platform plank: “The Constitution’s guarantee that no one can be deprived of life, liberty or property deliberately echoes the Declaration of Independence’s proclamation that ‘all’ are ‘endowed by their Creator’ with the right to life. Accordingly, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”

Continuing, the platform plank declares, “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth. We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, that perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage.”

The LifeSiteNews story reported the plank’s contrast with “the draft 2016 Democratic Party platform [which] demands greater taxpayer funding for abortion-on-demand at home and abroad, including repealing the Hyde and Helms Amendments, and ‘champions Planned Parenthood,’ in the words of a press release from the Democratic Party.”

And LifeSiteNews reports the response of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (WV), who “dismiss[ed] the platform’s abortion stance as ‘crazy’” and notes it has caused other pro-life Democrats to recoil. “‘It’s something that I know most of the Democrats in West Virginia and most West Virginians would not agree with, [and] I don’t either,’” he told the Weekly Standard, as quoted by LifeSiteNews writer Ben Johnson.

Democrats for Life of America executive director Kristen Day declared, writes Mr. Johnson, “‘For the good of the party and the good of the country, it is time to open the big tent!’ … [Mrs.] Day has rented a billboard in Philadelphia,” where the Democratic convention will meet July 25-28, “noting,” writes Mr. Johnson, “that ‘one in three Democrats are pro-life.’”

The long-time pro-life leader called for her party “to adopt ‘a more inclusive and open political coalition’ on the issue of abortion,’” reports Mr. Johnson. “‘As it is, the national party platform is closed to all Democrats who believe that we must find better solutions to the challenges mothers face than aborting their children. This is how we can win.’”

But her party has a growing history of excluding pro-life advocacy from the public view, beginning most publicly with the refusal of party leaders to allow a speech by then-Gov. Bob Casey at the 1992 national convention on the basis of the senior Casey’s outspoken advocacy for the right to life of preborn boys and girls. That action shocked the nation but, regrettably, has since become the expected response of the party lieutenants to the right to life, regardless of the attitudes of many of the party’s civilian members.


Commanding Neutrality While Exhibiting Bias

JUDICIAL ACTIVISM REARED ITS UGLY HEAD in Utah last week with the declaration of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that Planned Parenthood is somehow entitled to taxpayer funds as a matter of Constitutional right. The ruling overturned a federal district judge’s previous ruling upholding the authority of Gov. Gary Herbert (R) to disqualify the abortion behemoth from state funding.

The appellate court stated in its ruling, reports, citing Fox13 Salt Lake City as source, “that [Gov.] Herbert was acting based on his personal opposition to abortion. …

“‘We conclude that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert issued the directive to punish Planned Parenthood Assn. of Utah for the 1st and 14th Amendment rights it has identified in this litigation,’ Judge Mary Beck Briscoe wrote,” according to LifeSiteNews. “‘In particular, we conclude,’” the Clinton-appointed judge added, “‘that a reasonable finder of fact is more likely than not to find that Herbert, a politician and admitted opponent of abortion, viewed the situation that presented itself by release of the [Center for Medical Progress] videos as an opportunity to take public action against PPAU, deprive it of pass-through federal funding and potentially weaken the organization and hamper its ability to provide and advocate for abortion services.’”

Apparently, the 10th Circuit appellate panel expect public officials to stifle their own First Amendment free-speech rights if they desire to act responsibly to protect taxpayers from complicity in the destruction of innocent human life.

The governor’s office indicated Mr. Herbert “would confer with his staff on how to proceed,” reports LifeSiteNews. “‘The governor is disappointed with the court’s split decision today,’ Herbert spokesman Jon Cox said,” quoted by LifeSiteNews. “‘He believes that it is in the public’s best interest to allow state officials to make contract decisions on behalf of the state, rather than a distant federal court.’” The spokesman indicated the governor would consult with the Utah attorney general to “‘determine the best course of action moving forward.’”



Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, in an OR news release dated July 13, 2016, reporting on a serious abortion injury to a customer of a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, abortuary: “It seems that since the [late June] Supreme Court decision in Hellerstedt, women have a right to abortion access but not abortion safety. That places women in the insane position of being treated as second-class citizens who deserve no better than the likes of Kermit Gosnell. Those that truly care about women should join us in peacefully working to shut down the abortion clinics and offer pregnant women better alternatives than destroying the lives of their precious pre-born children.”


Proudly Pro-Life

July 13, 2016, excerpts from FRC Action Update by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, a member of the 2016 GOP Platform Committee

Republicans now have a platform to stand on, a solidly conservative platform. The GOP platform committee met for two days with 112 delegates from every state and territory and came to a consensus, a conservative consensus for the principles of the Grand Old Party. … I am very happy to say that the final platform document overwhelmingly approved by the delegates may be the strongest statement of conservative principles by a GOP platform to date. …

Our coalition of delegates – including FRC Action and other groups like the March for Life Action, Eagle Forum and Concerned Women for America – proved invaluable. The platform is an important document showing the Party of Lincoln continues to respect freedom and the rule of law, the idea that all humans deserve respect, not because of some category but because we have inherent dignity and are made in the image of our Creator. The platform is a useful document – a standard for the party in local, state and federal elections, use in town halls, and it provides standards to which we should hold our elected officials. …

Here are some key takeaways from the platform for social conservatives:

  • The already pro-life plank of the GOP added a call to enforce born-alive protections and to stop the Gosnell-like murder of babies born alive and probably violations of federal law by Planned Parenthood. As the new platform will say, “we oppose infanticide” – a declaration that the Democrats in the House of Representatives and Planned Parenthood opposed! The platform also for the first time calls for redirecting taxpayer dollars away not only from abortion providers, as the 2012 platform did, but specifically the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. The platform calls for allowing states the flexibility to exclude such providers in their Medicaid programs.
  • The platform contains conscience protections for healthcare providers, which I was able to strengthen by adding doctors, nurses and pharmacists in anticipation of the historic House vote today on the Conscience Protection Act. This Act protects against the Administration’s refusal to enforce current law protecting against government discrimination of healthcare providers and health plans which object to participation of abortion. …
  • And while the platforms of the past affirmed no taxpayer funding for abortion, this platform improved its call for a government-wide Hyde Amendment to bar funding for abortion and healthcare plans with abortion coverage, something which the Democrats’ draft platform now calls for a repeal. …