Life Advocacy Briefing

May 8, 2017

Relief Could Be on the Way / Personnel Choices Matter
When Will D.O.J. Swing into Action on Baby Trafficking?
Bothered & Bewildered / Policy Turnaround
Marching Ahead / Hopeful News!

Relief Could Be on the Way

THE HOUSE VOTED THURSDAY TO ADVANCE TO THE SENATE the first major measure of the 115th Congress to “repeal and replace ObamaCare,” a several-step process. The vote was 217 to 212, mostly along party lines, with 20 Republicans voting “no” and not a single Democrat voting “yes.”

Its fate in the Senate is unknowable, but in the form in which the measure passed the House, it would disqualify Planned Parenthood and other abortionists from federal taxpayer subsidies in Medicaid and restore the right of insurance buyers to exclude coverage for abortion and for abortifacient contraceptive drugs, as part of a major package to pull America back from the socialistic approach of ObamaCare.

Key to Senate passage – which under the “reconciliation” process requires just 51 votes – could be decisions by GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) whether to stand by their backers in the abortion industry. Senate Republicans number 52, and favorable votes by any Democratic Senators are unlikely.

We encourage our readers to contact their home-state Senators and encourage an “aye” vote on the House-passed “American Health Care Act.” (Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121)

After all, Planned Parenthood is fighting fiercely against the legislation, telling backers on their electronic mail list: “‘The federal government is now in the hands of extremist lawmakers who have tried for years to shut down Planned Parenthood health centers and cut patients off from care.’” And the blast e-mail message goes on, reports Lisa Bourne in, to quote the abortion goliath’s CEO herself, Cecile Richards, who complained, “‘This isn’t the first – or even fourth – attack on reproductive health we’ve seen from politicians in Congress and the White House this year. … The reinstatement and expansion of the global gag rule, voting away essential protections for the Title X [Ten] family planning program, gutting international family planning funds – the all-out war on women and families in this new Administration has been unprecedented.’”

Personnel Choices Matter

TWO APPOINTMENTS LAST WEEK OFFER SPECIAL HOPE & CHEER to pro-life citizens. Both selections are for key posts assisting Secretary Tom Price at the Dept. of Health & Human Services, the bureaucracy from which stems much of the federal government’s policy affecting the right to life.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins has published a commentary saluting the two picks, and we reprint his commentary at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing. Being personally acquainted with both appointees, we agree with Mr. Perkins’s assessment; since Mr. Perkins has actually worked directly with both, we leave the details to him and invite our readers to thank God for these auspicious choices.

When Will D.O.J. Swing into Action on Baby Trafficking?

TODAY, MAY 8, IS THE DATE BY WHICH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT is supposed to respond to a referral by the US Senate Judiciary Committee seeking official investigation and possible prosecution of Planned Parenthood and the fetal tissue vendors uncovered by the unofficial probe of Planned Parenthood by the Center for Medical Progress. That referral was delivered to the Justice Dept. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in December.

But, reports Claire Chretien for, “neither the FBI nor the Dept. of Justice has contacted the [Senate] committee about accessing unredacted documents or other findings that would be relevant to pursuing an investigation,” an ominous silence, indeed. In the committee’s letter to the Justice Dept. and FBI, the Senators acknowledged their own report “was issued during a time of Presidential transition. ‘Justice Dept. personnel and enforcement priorities were likely in flux.’”

But the transition is officially over, and the Trump Administration has now passed the 100-day mark. Silence from the two executive agencies could signal the slow progress the new team has made in replacing Obama-era personnel with appointees who will approach the nation’s law enforcement priorities with less intertwined commitment to the abortion lobby. We can hope the personnel turnover will accelerate, as the abortion industry takes innocent human lives every day.

After all, “Justice” under Atty. General Jeff Sessions ought certainly to be taking note of the Senate committee’s referral, which, notes Ms. Chretien, “analyzed more than 20,000 pages of documents from the abortion industry. It found,” she reports, “that fetal tissue companies had paid Planned Parenthood ‘to acquire aborted fetuses, and then sold the fetal tissue to their respective customers at substantially higher prices than their documented costs.’ The Committee found,” she writes, “that when Planned Parenthood Federation of America learned some of its affiliates were selling fetal body parts against company policy, it just canceled the policy so that the sales could continue.

“‘Companies have charged thousands of dollars,’” the report said, as quoted by Ms. Chretien, “‘for specimens removed from a single aborted fetus.’”

Prosecutorial priorities at the Dept. of Justice must change, and we appreciate the Senate Judiciary Committee for keeping pressure on DOJ to pursue justice for the victims of aborted-baby-parts traffickers, no matter how large and politically influential they may be.

Bothered & Bewildered

THE CONGRESSIONAL PRO-CHOICE [sic] CAUCUS CELEBRATED MAY DAY by issuing an open letter “denouncing Pres. Trump’s policies toward women’s health and women’s rights during the first 100 days of his Administration.” The letter was issued by caucus co-chairmen Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), who claimed in a news release that it was signed by “149 Members of the House of Representatives” but who did not release the names of the co-signers.

“Decades of progress on women’s health and their rights have been rolled back under your leadership,” claims the letter, “with even standard Republican policies taken to a whole new and devastating extreme.”

The letter cited “many actions taken by the Trump Administration” that the Congressional abortion fanatics object to, including: “depriving Planned Parenthood of federal funds; repealing the Affordable Care Act with legislation that would gut maternity care; reinstating and expanding the Global Gag Rule targeting organizations that work on US-funded health programs overseas; eliminating US funding to United Nations Population Fund; appointing anti-choice Cabinet members, including the Attorney General and Secretary of Health & Human Services; promising to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who could put Roe v. Wade at risk; eliminating important protections in Title X, the nation’s family planning program; [and] gutting the Ten [sic] Pregnancy Prevention Program for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017.”

Policy Turnaround

Religious Liberty Executive Order signed May 4, 2017, by Pres. Donald J. Trump

            By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:

            Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.

            Section 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501/c/3 of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit or benefit.

            Section 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under Section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.

            Section 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.

            Section 5. Severability. If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any individual or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of its other provisions to any other individuals or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

            Section 6. General Provisions.

      a. Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:     

                (i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

              (ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     b. This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

      c. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Marching Ahead

March 16, 2017, commentary by Michele Hendrickson of Students for Life

            This is a good news/bad news situation. Let’s start with the bad news:

            There are still people out there who wholeheartedly believe that tearing apart a young living human’s body, limb from limb, is okay. They are so accepting of this barbaric practice that they will testify in front of a State House saying so.

            Take this person, for example: Rachelle Yeung, public policy counsel for the ACLU of Maryland. She, along with the entire Maryland State House of Delegates, watched a former abortionist’s explanation and reenactment of a D&E abortion – something that made the entire room look up from their cellphones and left everyone in shock. Everyone, that is, except for representatives from NARAL, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.

            After Ms. Young’s brief and detached testimony in opposition [to] a bill that would protect living human beings from the suffering endured by dismemberment [in] the womb, she was questioned as to whether she considers the procedure “inhumane.” Her answer? “No. No, I do not.” ….

But wait! The good news: Those opposing life-saving legislation were in the minority. Three pro-abortion representatives, whose entire job description is to lobby and testify in the Maryland General Assembly, showed up to give basic and unemotional testimony.

            In comparison, ten supporters of the Dismemberment Abortion Ban showed up, including: a student leader from Huntingtown High School, a physician, a mom who delivered her son at 26 weeks (when dismemberment abortions are currently legal), two women who shared personal stories of how the abortion industry betrayed them and myself, representing the pro-life generation in Maryland.

            We were a powerful force. I was honored to work alongside bold Delegates, passionate professionals and student leaders who are bringing real change to Maryland. …

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: The hearing described by Ms. Hendrickson took place in March and related to consideration by the Maryland General Assembly of bills in both House and Senate seeking to ban dismemberment abortions, the most common method of abortion after the first trimester of a baby’s gestation. The legislation is still pending in committees in both houses.]

Hopeful News!

May 2, 2017 Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            If personnel is policy, then Family Research Council can certainly vouch for the two newest faces at Health & Human Services. In separate announcements over the last few days, [Pres.] Donald Trump has appointed a pair of the most qualified pro-life leaders to significant posts at HHS. How do we know they’re qualified? Both of them worked for FRC.

            Most movement conservatives are familiar with Charmaine Yoest, the former head of Americans United for Life. Her time at AUL, fighting for the unborn and drafting model legislation to help states do the same, was a draw for Secretary Tom Price, who is busy transforming Obama’s taxpayer-funded abortion factory to a legitimate health agency that views all life as valuable. In her new role as assistant secretary of public affairs, Charmaine will be taking the messaging helm from a [man] who was just named vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood. (If anything illustrates the sea change of the Trump Administration, it’s that!) The pick was so notable that even Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) tweeted his support of Charmaine: “Congrats to Charmaine Yoest on appointment as Asst. Sec. of HHS. Yet again, this Admin. demonstrates strong commitment to the pro-life cause.”

            The Trump team, which has done nothing but validate pro-lifers’ support, gave them more to cheer with the hiring of Teresa Wagner Manning, another FRC veteran, to head the agency’s Title X [Ten] Family Planning program. A principled attorney, who’s spent her career as a voice for the voiceless, Teresa’s experience spans from the courtroom to the classroom. Now, after years as a lobbyist and policy analyst, she’ll help HHS offer real help for women – not just taxpayer-funded abortion masquerading as health care.

            Not surprisingly, the Left had plenty to say about both of Trump’s choices. After all, Manning, in particular, is an expert on the dangers of the abortion drug, RU-486, and morning-after pills. She understands the threat that Obama’s brand of “family planning” causes to women and will do her best to give women the truth and help they deserve.

            As former co-workers, we couldn’t be prouder of Charmaine and Teresa and look forward to seeing how they bring security back to taxpayers and credibility back to HHS.