Life Advocacy Briefing

June 26, 2017

And the Loser Is: Planned Parenthood! / Another Win in South Carolina
Back to the Drawing Board / ‘Life’ Recognized in Florida
Sen. Lee Takes Truth to the Senate / Reverberating Implications

And the Loser Is: Planned Parenthood!

THOUGH THERE WERE MANY ISSUES, CONTRASTS & ‘PLAYERS’ in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election last week, one should be of particular interest to our readers: Representative-elect Karen Handel (R), the winner, brings into office scars and stars from a direct battle with Planned Parenthood.

It’s not just that Planned Parenthood invested an estimated $735,000 into efforts to defeat her and to elect the Democratic Party’s hope-boy Jon Ossoff; it’s not just that Mr. Ossoff adopted his party’s radical line on abortion policy; it’s not just that Mrs. Handel’s election was seen by the apparently devastated mainstream-media talkers as a baffling setback for their anti-Trump campaign; and it’s not even that the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) and other pro-life organizations were solidly involved in the campaign of Karen Handel. It’s the background of Representative-elect Handel herself that brings deep satisfaction and hopeful expectation to the hearts of well-informed advocates for Life.

Mrs. Handel comes to Congress with a full and personal awareness of the abortion battle and of Planned Parenthood. Indeed, she is the author of a 2014 book called Planned Bullyhood: The Truth Behind the Headlines about the Planned Parenthood Funding Battle with Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Long-time readers of Life Advocacy Briefing might recall that during a 2012 scandal involving the abortion goliath, the Komen foundation’s financial aid to Planned Parenthood became a blot on the breast-cancer-awareness charity. Karen Handel at the time was vice president of public policy at Komen. Among her responsibilities, notes Alana Abramson in, was “finding ways to disengage [Komen] from Planned Parenthood.” The abortion outfit, writes Ms. Abramson, “is still holding [Mrs.] Handel … responsible for the imbroglio, calling her an ‘anti-healthcare extremist’ in a statement following the results of the first round of the election,” when Mrs. Handel emerged from a special primary as the GOP nominee.

“‘We congratulate pro-life champion Karen Handel on her historic victory,’” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser, quoted by Claire Chretien in “‘Although America’s largest abortion business Planned Parenthood spent six figures in support of her opponent Jon Ossoff, Karen’s record of courageous leadership won the day,’” she said. “‘We are encouraged that the voters rejected Ossoff’s extreme pro-abortion agenda and are sending Karen Handel to Washington to stand up for women and children and get taxpayers out of the abortion business.’”

The LifeSiteNews reporter noted that the Democratic nominee “attacked [Mrs.] Handel over the Komen/Planned Parenthood scandal during their first debate. Handel defended herself,” writes Ms. Chretien, “pointing out she had been tasked with disengaging the [Komen] foundation from involvement with Planned Parenthood because the grants it had been giving the abortion giant ‘were not effective. … It doesn’t matter how many times you say it, it does not make it true,’ she said” in the debate, quoted by LifeSiteNews. “‘Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms. Period.’”

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, in his June 21 Washington Update, reports on a commentary by Alexandra DeSanctis in National Review: “Tuesday’s real loser wasn’t [Mr.] Ossoff,” writes Mr. Perkins, summarizing the NR point, “but Planned Parenthood. ‘By tacking a $735,000 price tag onto Ossoff’s failed effort,’” writes Ms. DeSanctis, “‘Planned Parenthood has revealed its own futility at influencing elections. That failure underscores another important point. Planned Parenthood consistently argues that, if it were to be stripped of its federal funding, millions of women would lose “vital health care.”’ Like most of us,” writes Mr. Perkins, “[Ms. DeSanctis] thinks this is just further evidence that Planned Parenthood doesn’t need the money it keeps begging Congress for! If its political arm can afford to spend almost a million dollars on a single race, surely it can survive without an excess of taxpayer funding.” Well, for that matter, let’s hope not!

Another Win in South Carolina

THOUGH ABORTION DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE BEEN A TOP ISSUE in the 5th Congressional District of South Carolina’s special election last Tuesday, a bit of research shows the two candidates were divided on the issue. Democrat Archie Parnell, according to Daniel Marans in the Huffington Post, “holds mainstream Democratic views on issues like abortion rights (he supports them unreservedly).”

Republican Ralph Norman, who is now Representative-elect Norman, is a former state legislator who, in 2013, sponsored a post-20-week abortion ban. He advocates repeal and replacement of ObamaCare, whereas Mr. Parnell supported its retention, according to the respective campaign websites. Congressman-elect Norman was identified by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, in his June 21 Washington Update, as a “champion of the pro-life cause.” Welcome, Rep. Norman!

Back to the Drawing Board

THE SENATE MAJORITY’s ATTEMPT to frame an alternative to the House-passed ObamaCare repeal-and-replace legislation appears, at this writing, to have hit a bump which could well delay its consideration past the July 4 deadline being aimed at by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Within hours of its unveiling to Senators in the body’s Majority Conference, four conservative Senators announced they would withhold their votes, making the building of a 51-vote majority for the measure a steep hill to climb.

Demurrals by GOP Senators Rand Paul (KY), Ted Cruz (TX), Mike Lee (UT) and Ron Johnson (WI) do not spell death for the repeal/replace effort but take it into a new path of negotiation, no doubt their intent.

Here is the brief statement issued by the four conservative Republicans: “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal ObamaCare and lower their healthcare costs.”

Their statement does not appear to reflect concern about Planned Parenthood provisions; indeed, leaked reports last Wednesday evening indicated the bill would disqualify Planned Parenthood, as did the House-passed version. We picked up no indication that liberal GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Susan Collins (ME) are following through on their own threats to withhold their votes so long as Planned Parenthood is barred from taxpayer funding within the measure.

Senate Republicans could afford to lose the abortion backers’ votes if the other 50 GOP Senators united behind whatever is ultimately proposed. Should the vote come down to a 50-to-50 draw, Vice President Mike Pence is constitutionally authorized to vote to break the tie, bringing the total to the required 51-vote threshold.

‘Life’ Recognized in Florida

FLORIDA GOV. RICK SCOTT (R) SIGNED LEGISLATION recently which recognizes the humanity of unborn children, though the legislation is not directly related to abortion.

“The Grieving Families Act,” reports Charlie Butts for, “allows parents who have lost a child through a miscarriage or stillbirth to receive a certificate of a non-viable birth.”

Said Lynda Bell of Florida Right to Life, interviewed by Mr. Butts, “‘It may not technically be a piece of legislation that’s out there saving lives of the unborn, but it really is powerful because of the fact that it recognizes the humanity of the unborn child as well as the grief that the parents experience when they lose their children.’

“The Senate passed the bill unanimously,” writes Mr. Butts, “while in the House, only one ‘no’ vote was recorded.” The new law is scheduled to take effect next month.

Sen. Lee Takes Truth to the Senate

Senate Floor speech by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), reprinted by in a June 16 report by Doug Mainwaring

            Mr. President: Last year the nation was shocked by undercover videos produced by investigative journalists with the Center for Medical Progress, exposing Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal body parts … and the callousness with which Planned Parenthood officials described their grisly work. But as we know – as Planned Parenthood and their allies in the mainstream media hoped – outrage fades. Attention turns.

            But not for long. For the abortion industry and its profiteers are never really beset by scandal – they are a scandal.

            And so, just last month, we got another reminder about the reality behind the talking points. Once again, it was the undercover journalists of the Center for Medical Progress doing the investigative journalism the mainstream media won’t.

            Once again, the video has been ignored by a pro-abortion media elite whose principal interest in the story is the prosecution of the journalists for daring to speak this truth to their power. But the American people – and their representatives here in the Senate – deserve to know what the new video shows.

            It shows the founder of Planned Parenthood’s Consortium of Abortion Providers on a conference panel. She recounts a harrowing experience while performing an abortion: “An eyeball just fell down into my lap,” she says, “and that’s gross.” Her remark was greeted with laughter from her audience.

            It shows another Planned Parenthood doctor stating that “the fetus is a tough little object,” so “taking it apart” in the womb is “very difficult.” This comment echoes a previous undercover video, in which a Planned Parenthood doctor joked that the bones of 20-week-old fetuses were so strong that, “I have to hit the gym for this.”

            The video shows the director of abortion services for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast saying that she sometimes uses forceps to “pull off a leg or two” to ensure an unborn child dies before being born – in other words, to avoid the moment when our nation’s laws might protect that child.

            The video shows the medical director of Planned Parenthood in Michigan talking about surprising common ground between abortion doctors and pro-life activists. “… We might actually both agree that there’s violence in here,” she said. “Let’s just give them all the violence, it’s a person, it’s killing. Let’s just give them all that.”

            That’s not what they say in public, Mr. President. It certainly isn’t what they tell their patients, the women who come to their clinics. Just in private, at industry conferences – between networking opportunities and drinks at the open bar.

            Because they know. Deep down, everyone knows.

            The Center for Medical Progress videos shock, but they don’t surprise. They don’t teach us anything we don’t already know. All they do is remind us of an inconvenient truth that demands our attention and our action.

            It is certainly spurring the pro-abortion political machine into action. As expected, the Center for Medical Progress is once again the target of criminal and civil investigations designed to intimidate further questions about the abortion industry’s methods and money. But the truth will out, Mr. President.

            But as we know, threats and intimidation are tactics of guilt and desperation, of the losing side in every battle ever fought. If Planned Parenthood were what they publicly declare themselves to be, they would welcome transparency. We all know why they hide, because we know what they hide.

            The question, as always, is not what they will do but what we will do. And the answer, as always, is “as much as we can.”

            We can start by enforcing existing abortion laws and reforming others … for example, making the Mexico City Policy permanent so taxpayer money is not used to promote abortion to disadvantaged people overseas … or ending abortion after 20 weeks, when unborn children begin to feel pain. We can confirm federal judges who follow the Constitution rather than reverse-engineer their preferred policy outcomes.

            The truth about abortion is spreading, because of advances in medical imaging, … because of brave journalists, tireless activists, compassionate doctors and nurses. State houses are passing laws to protect American women and their children. The rising generation of young Americans is the most pro-life in decades. Because, Mr. President, they know, too.

            Little by little, the truth is fighting free, like green shoots through the frost. And one day soon, we will reaffirm our nation’s principles in their dignified fullness and avow once again that all men are created equal. All are entitled to life.

Reverberating Implications

June 21, 2017, BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera

            The recent, disturbing criminal trial of Michelle Carter not only tests new legal boundaries; it’s a mirror held up in front of our society.

            On June 16th, a Massachusetts judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy. Because Carter wasn’t with Roy when he committed suicide, many legal analysts found the verdict surprising.

            In 2014, Conrad Roy met Michelle Carter while on vacation. As New York magazine put it, theirs was a “thoroughly modern teenage romance: texting, telling each other their secrets, saying they loved each other, but only meeting in person, as far as his family knows, a couple of times.”

            Roy had a history of [what] psychiatrists call “suicidal ideations,” which were the subject of many of the text exchanges between him and Carter. But instead of urging her boyfriend to get help, Carter encouraged him to take his life, often asking him “when are you going to do it?” And in the most damning exchange, Carter reproached Roy: “You keep pushing it off, and you say you’ll do it, but you never do. You just have to do it.”

            Finally, Roy did it, by filling his truck with carbon monoxide while on the phone with Carter. When he tried to get out of the truck, Carter, as she told a friend in a text, told him to get back in.

            Transcripts of the texts are now public. And while legal experts debated whether Carter’s actions were actually a crime, the court of public opinion has been unanimous: Her actions were heinous.

            But lost in the outrage and debate over Carter’s action is an appreciation of the irony at the heart of this story: Carter’s messages were only an exaggerated and specifically directed version of the messages our culture – including policy and media leaders – send already to fragile and vulnerable people all the time.

            The most obvious example is physician-assisted suicide. As Wesley J. Smith has said, our “society broadly accepts the agenda of killing as an acceptable end to human suffering. … We eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferers.”

            And to an extent that few people understand, that suffering is mental, not physical. “Only 22% of patients who died between 1998 and 2009 by assisted suicide in Oregon … were in pain or afraid of being in pain, according to their doctors.” [Ezekiel Emanuel] As Ezekiel Emanuel, one of the architects of ObamaCare, wrote in the New York Times, “‘Patients [who request physician-assisted suicide] say that the primary motive is not to escape physical pain but psychological distress; the main drivers are depression, hopelessness and fear of loss of autonomy and control.

            “‘In this light,’” Emanuel continues, “‘physician-assisted suicide looks less like a good death in the face of unremitting pain and more like plain old suicide.’” Despite this, two-thirds of Americans believe that physician-assisted suicide should be legal.

            And the media, in Michelle Carter-like fashion, is also guilty of encouraging suicide by glamorizing it. A recent episode of The Daily, the New York Times podcast with Michael Barbaro, told the story of a Canadian man choosing the time of his death on his own terms surrounded by friends and family. The episode, which told nothing of doctors who have recused themselves from the procedure because of regret or families who wish their loved ones had chosen life instead of death, ended by telling us how much we can learn about dying from such a beautiful story.

            What Carter did was reprehensible, perhaps even criminal. But while her actions were extraordinary, her belief that suffering is best dealt with by eliminating the sufferer isn’t. Our culture is largely clueless about what gives life value and what gives us dignity. Because we don’t know what a life worth living looks like, we don’t know what a truly good death looks like, either. This cluelessness, and the evil it begets, will be with us long after we forget the name “Michelle Carter.”