Life Advocacy Briefing

April 24, 2017

Planned Parenthood Defunding: Step One, Done / Win in Kansas
Victory Underway in Georgia / Building the Agenda / Stateside Progress
Arming Parents to Protect their Children / Braking Leviathan

Planned Parenthood Defunding: Step One, Done

WHILE CONGRESS WAS IN RECESS, a key piece of already-passed legislation arrived at the White House, and Pres. Donald Trump (R) signed it into law.

Under leadership of Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), state governments across America now see a restoration of a small but key part of their sovereignty. The new law which Rep. Black filed in January vetoes a last-minute regulation imposed by the Obama Regime to bar states from excluding Planned Parenthood or other abortionists from funding under the Title X (Ten) “family planning” program. Title X is a major source of the taxpayer funding which keeps Planned Parenthood going and – in some places – growing.

“‘This week the pro-life movement had two huge victories,’” said Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) president Marjorie Dannenfelser, quoted by Claire Chretien in, anticipating the April 13 signing, which Mrs. Dannenfelser witnessed. “‘First,’” she noted, “‘the swearing-in of Justice Gorsuch and now, Pres. Trump will undo former Pres. Obama’s parting gift to the abortion industry,’ said [Mrs.] Dannenfelser. ‘The resolution signed today simply ensures that states are not forced to fund an abortion business with taxpayer dollars. … Prioritizing funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive [non-abortion] healthcare alternatives,’” she declared, “‘is a winning issue.’”

We reported on this first leg of the Defund Planned Parenthood campaign as it passed through the House (230-to-188 on Feb. 16) and the Senate (51-to-50, including Vice President Pence, on March 30), and we look forward to future Congressional action to disqualify Planned Parenthood from taxpayer funding within other federal programs, notably the massive Medicaid funnel.

As to taxpayer relief under HJRes-43, signed by the President on March 13, now it is up to the states – and to pro-life citizens who will contact their state legislators and governors.

Win in Kansas

KANSAS STATE TREASURER RON ESTES (R) was elected in a special election April 11 to fill the vacancy caused by appointment of former-Rep. Mike Pompeo, a solidly pro-life official, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Estes victory will be certified by a Kansas electoral board today, April 24, and he will then be eligible to take the oath of office.

Here is what the Estes campaign had posted on its website concerning Mr. Estes’s position on the cause of Life: “I believe that every human being has an inalienable right to life. I am proudly pro-life, and as your Congressman, I will lead the fight to protect the unborn. One of my top priorities will be to defund Planned Parenthood. American taxpayers should not be forced to fund organizations that perform abortions.” Welcome, Rep.-elect Estes.

Victory Underway in Georgia

THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WHO LED HER PARTY’s FIELD in last Tuesday’s “jungle primary” in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District – former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel – brings an unusual background into the June 20 run-off election contest against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

As a former leader of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer charity, Mrs. Handel led the fight in 2011 to pull Komen out of Planned Parenthood’s donor pool, a fight which succeeded for a while until Planned Parenthood brought financial pressure on Komen, prompting Mrs. Handel’s departure from the charity and, ultimately, Mrs. Handel’s authorship of a book titled Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines About the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The leadership and courage Mrs. Handel showed in that battle were among the qualities which drew the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) political action committee to back her bid to succeed pro-life Congressman – now Secretary of Health & Human Services – Tom Price.

In last Tuesday’s mixed-party primary, Mrs. Handel led the 11 Republican candidates and finished second to Mr. Ossoff, who had to share his party’s voters with only four other hopefuls. Since neither of the frontrunners took 50% of the vote, the June 20 run-off has been set as a two-candidate match.

SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser told Claire Chretien of, “‘[Mrs.] Handel is by far the best qualified to replace recently confirmed HHS Secretary Tom Price. Her opponent, Jon Ossoff, is an extremist backed by America’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood. … We need principled pro-life leaders like Karen in Congress,’” said Mrs. Dannenfelser, “‘to fight for women and children and get American taxpayers out of the abortion business.’”

As to Mr. Ossoff, here is what he says on his campaign website about his commitment in the abortion battle: “Women’s Health & Planned Parenthood –Jon will defend women’s access to contraception and a woman’s right to choose and fight any legislation or executive action that would allow insurance companies to discriminate against women. Planned Parenthood provides essential preventative and reproductive health care services like cancer screenings, STD testing and low-cost birth control to millions of American women. Jon will defend Planned Parenthood in Congress.”

Building the Agenda

AS CONGRESS MOVES INTO ITS SPRING SESSION, the appropriations process will begin to gain steam, particularly in the US House. Since much pro-life policy at the federal level is achieved through initiatives known as “appropriations riders” – whereby policy is enacted within the confines of various spending measures – we find useful a memo passed along to us by an aide to a pro-life Member of Congress, informing us of various endorsement letters being circulated to build support for pro-life riders.

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), for example, is said to be circulating a letter for Congressional signatures requesting inclusion of “the Aderholt Amendment,” which, according to the memo, “prohibits abortion funding for immigration detainees.”

Ohio GOP Rep. Brad Wenstrup is focused on another amendment advanced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), this one affecting the Agriculture Department’s appropriation. Known as “the Aderholt embryo protection language,” the rider “prohibits Food & Drug Administration approval of the creation or genetic modification of human embryos.” The FDA is an agency within the Department of Agriculture.

Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) is currently circulating two pro-life priority letters, one along with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) to support the proposed Conscience Protection Act, “protecting individuals who decline to participate in abortion from governmental discrimination,” notes the memo. The proposal “clarifies and makes permanent the protections of the Weldon Amendment, and it adds a private right of action,” notes the memo, “to enforce this law and other longstanding conscience laws.”

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) has joined Rep. Black in circulating a letter “requesting that Planned Parenthood be barred from receiving funds” via the appropriation bill for the Departments of Labor and Health & Human Services. 

And Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the House Pro-Life Caucus, “is circulating a letter,” notes the memo, “to make permanent the Mexico City Policy [which Pres. Trump recently reinstated via executive order] to make foreign non-government organizations that perform and promote abortion overseas ineligible for US funds and to defund the United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA].”

Rep. Smith is also asking his colleagues to sign a letter to the Appropriations Committee’s Financial Services panel to request “inclusion of the Harris Amendment, which eliminates elective abortion coverage from the Multi-State Plan Program.”

Stateside Progress

PRO-LIFE VICTORIES IN VARIOUS STATES are beginning to accumulate through the odd-year spring legislative sessions.

The Iowa Senate last week sent to Gov. Terry Branstad (R) a bill banning abortions on babies who have reached the 20-week stage of gestation; though the House had previously stripped out criminal penalties, the measure does provide for civil litigation against abortionists who violate the ban and also, according to William Petroski of the DesMoines Register, “allows physicians to be disciplined by the Iowa Board of Medicine if they’re found to be in violation of the law.” It also calls for a three-day waiting period for abortions in the state. The bill achieved final Senate passage by a vote of 30 to 20.

Arizona’s GOP governor, Doug Ducey, on March 31 signed a new law which, according to National Right to Life News, “requires abortionists to use all available means and medical skills to save an abortion survivor. ‘The bill,’” reports the Arizona Republic, quoted by NRTL News, ‘“would require hospitals and clinics providing abortions at 20 weeks or beyond to have medical equipment on site to care for a fetus delivered alive.’” The measure passed the Senate 18 to 12 and the House 34 to 22.

A bill protecting minors, increasing parents’ rights and helping victims of sex trafficking has passed both houses in the Indiana legislature and will soon head to the desk of Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), who is expected to sign the measure. The Senate passed the measure 31 to 10, accepting changes made by the House, where it had earlier passed by a vote of 74 to 23. According to NRTL News, the measure “extends help to victims of sex trafficking or those being coerced into abortion, … updates Indiana abortion facility licensing provisions to account for the growing number of chemical abortions in the state … and increases parental rights by providing civil recourse if a parent or guardian learns someone fraudulently posed as them in order to help their minor daughter obtain an abortion.” It also broadens abortion reporting requirements to include children seeking abortions at “‘less than 16 years of age’” rather than “‘less than 14,’” NRTL News reports.

Two pro-life bills have been sent to the desk of West Virginia’s Democratic governor, Jim Justice, who has the option of signing, vetoing or allowing the measures to become law without his signature. One tightens parental consent legislation in the state, and the second (as amended) curbs the growing abortion industry practice of prescribing abortion chemicals without the “doctor” having personally examined his “patient,” a cost-cutting scheme known as “telemed abortion.” 

And on March 30, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed a measure to ban sex-selection abortion. The new law had passed the Arkansas Senate 30 to 3 and the state House 57 to 9.

Arming Parents to Protect their Children

KANSAS GOV. SAM BROWNBACK (R) SIGNED LANDMARK LEGISLATION early this month to protect the right of parents to protect babies diagnosed with life-limiting conditions. In Kansas, the new legislation is called “Simon’s Law,” because it was initiated in response to a tragic case in which a three-month-old little boy died for lack of medical response to a severe apnea attack.

Little Simon Crosier was diagnosed with Trisomy-18 chromosomal abnormality, the same challenging condition under which former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum’s daughter Bella is persevering.

In the Crosier case, little Simon’s parents discovered after his death, according to a report on the bill signing by Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, that a “do-not-resuscitate” order had been placed in Simon’s medical file. The new Kansas law, writes Ms. Ostrowski, “ends ‘secret’ DNRs based on ‘quality of life’ judgments, buttresses dignity for children with disabilities, exposes policies denying life-saving care and combats erosion of the sanctity-of-life ethic in our culture … [while] validat[ing] both the medical advisory role and parental rights.”

The Crosiers began their fight to win such protective legislation in Missouri in 2014 but were unable to advance the proposal in that state’s legislature. “Kansans for Life took up the original bill last year,” reports Ms. Ostrowski, redrafted it with aid from National Right to Life’s medical ethics staff and began to press it forward in Kansas, where it passed in March by a 29-to-9 margin in the Senate and 121 to 3 in the House.

“‘Simon’s law will ensure families can secure the full support of the medical community as they fight for the lives of loved ones,’” said Gov. Brownback in signing the measure, reported by The Sentinel online news service. “‘Simon’s story is tragic and short. This law ensures that no parent again experiences this injustice.’” At least not in Kansas.

Braking Leviathan

April 12, 2017, BreakPoint commentary by Eric Metaxas & Stan Guthrie

            Proponents of assisted suicide would have us believe that legalized killing is an unstoppable freight train and that those who oppose it are going to get run over. And no wonder. Last year Colorado and the District of Columbia legalized it, while California enacted a bill that had been passed in 2015. They joined Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana, where this great evil is now legal.

            That’s why I’m very pleased to tell you that reports of the demise of a culture of Life have been, to borrow a phrase, greatly exaggerated. We’re starting to win again. No, this doesn’t mean we can relax, but it’s really good news – and frankly, we could use some.

            Bills to legalize euthanasia “have done very poorly” in 2017, Rita Marker, executive director of the Patients Rights Council, told Baptist Press. “That has been a shock to those who are in favor of it, because they thought that all of [a] sudden the dam had burst and everything would happen for them.”

            So far, that has not happened. Bills to advance the idea that some lives aren’t worth living have gone down to defeat in Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Tennessee. Also in New Mexico, the State Senate voted 22-20 against a bill to legalize assisted suicide for people expected to die within six months. It was a bipartisan vote, with seven Democrats joining 15 Republicans [in opposition].

            Similar bills stalled in Hawaii, Maryland, Utah and Wyoming, Marker said, although it’s always possible they could be brought back. In Hawaii, a House of Representatives committee unanimously decided not to advance a proposal allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs on the same day a patient is diagnosed as terminally ill.

            Eva Andrade of the Hawaii Family Forum said that Hawaiians should “say a prayer of thanksgiving” while remaining vigilant – because when it comes to assisted suicide bills, death is never final. “Although this may seem like the battle is over, please be advised that the battle is not over until the last day of session,” Andrade said. “And even then, the bill is still alive for next session. Even now, proponents are most likely regrouping.”

            Dauneen Dolce, executive director of the Right to Life Committee of New Mexico, told the American Family Assn. that assisted suicide legislation likely will be introduced next year. Therefore, she said, those opposing the culture of death must remain “actively involved in some way,” by “educating yourself or giving support to the organizations that are educating others or involved in the political arena. If you don’t do that,” she added, “you are handing over our state [and] our laws, and the culture of death will come to us – and that will be from apathy.”

            The job is immense. According to a 2016 survey by LifeWay Research, 67% of Americans say it is morally acceptable for terminally ill patients to ask their physicians to help them end their lives. We must not only work to change – or block – laws in the political and legislative realms. We must also work – and pray – to change hearts and minds in our neighborhoods, in our social and work circles and across society.

            Apparently most Americans see pain and suffering as the ultimate evil and personal autonomy as the highest good. What I can only call this “sub-Christian worldview” completely misses the truth that God can and often does use the things we’d rather avoid in our lives – even at the end of life – to draw us closer to Himself.

            Remember, when it comes to assisted suicide, apathy is deadly. So let’s educate our fellow Americans about the beauty and dignity of Life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. Remember as well: “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: Mindful of the power of words to reach hearts through minds, we urge the use of the term “doctor-abetted suicide” in place of the more benign and less accurate “doctor-assisted suicide.”]