Life Advocacy Briefing

July 17, 2017

The World is Watching / Seeking to Save Life in Oregon
Down and Out / Profound Warning
Standing Their Ground / Still Waiting for the Senate

The World is Watching

LITTLE CHARLIE GARD’s PARENTS WERE BACK IN COURT last Thursday after the London judge said he would hear additional evidence and would consider changing his mind about permitting the Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove life support from the disabled 11-month-old little boy.

The boy’s struggle to live – and his parents’ struggle to overcome the hospital’s sovereignty in the ultimate care decisions involving their son – have risen to worldwide concern, drawing attention from Pope Francis and President Trump, as well as prayer warriors across the globe.

As much as our concern as Life advocates is focused on prayer for the helpless little boy, we and many others are also reflecting on the policy implications related to government-managed health care.

Among those expressing such concerns last week was Vice President Mike Pence, who appeared on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program last Monday, saying, reports Claire Chretien for, “that he’s praying Charlie’s parents will be allowed to continue caring for him. …. [Mr.] Pence said,” writes Ms. Chretien, “that as Sen. Bernie Sanders [D-VT] campaigns for a single-payer healthcare system, Americans should look to what’s happening in England.

“‘The heartbreaking story of the 11-month-old Charlie Gard in England is a story of single-payer’ healthcare, said [Mr.] Pence,” writes Ms. Chretien. Vice Pres. Pence related his “‘prayer and … hope’” that the British medical system would “‘see its way clear to allow the family – the mother and the father – to be able to choose the greatest extent of life-saving treatment that’s available to their child.’” He said, writes Ms. Chretien, “Otherwise, … they will be ‘submitted to a government program that says “no, we’re going to remove life support from your precious 11-month-old child” because the government has decided that the prospects of their life are such that they no longer warrant an investment in health services.

“‘We hope and pray that little Charlie Gard gets every chance,’” said Mr. Pence in the LifeSiteNews report, “‘but the American people ought to reflect on the fact that for all the talk on the Left about single-payer, that’s where it takes us.’”

Weighing in from the Roman Catholic Church is Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, former Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, and founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage & the Family, who, writes Ms. Chretien, “blasted the court rulings against baby Charlie Gard as the ‘pit of barbarity’” and warned “they indicate we’re at the ‘end of the road of the culture of death.’ …

“‘It is now public institutions, the courts, who decide if a child has or hasn’t the right to live – even against the will of the parents,’ he said” in the LifeSiteNews report. “‘We are the children of institutions, and we owe our lives to them? The poor West: It has rejected God and His paternity,’” he said, “‘and now finds itself entrusted to bureaucracy! … Stop it, in the name of God,’” he declared.

Seeking to Save Life in Oregon

WHILE OREGON GOV. KATE BROWN (D) PREPARES to sign the outrageous legislation we reported last week that forces health insurers in the state to cover abortions, Oregon Life United is circulating a petition to propose to voters a state constitutional amendment protecting taxpayers from underwriting abortions with public funds.

Petition circulators seek more than 117,000 signatures from registered voters in the state in order to post the proposal on the ballot.

Oregon is reportedly the only state in the USA which has not a single law protecting vulnerable expectant mothers and their unborn children from the abortion trade. And the state’s Medicaid program currently puts out “over $2 million” annually, reports Catholic News Agency (CNA), citing the Associated Press as source, “to pay for about 3,500 abortions.”

According to Oregon Life United, “Approximately 10 pre-born children in Oregon die from taxpayer-funded abortion every 24 hours.”

The petition seeks to add the following language to the state constitution: “The State shall not spend public funds for any abortion, except when medically necessary or as may be required by federal law.”

The term “medically necessary” is defined in the petition as meaning “a condition in which a licensed physician determines that the pregnant woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

Though Oregon voters are generally viewed as having liberal views, the legislature’s radical action in forcing health insurers – and their premium payers – to underwrite abortions could ignite a significant reaction in the state, which could aid Oregon Life United in its constitutional amendment drive. Let us pray.

Down and Out

TWO NORTHEAST OHIO ABORTUARIES HAVE CLOSED under what Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue (OR) calls “mysterious circumstances. The closures,” she reports, “appear to be voluntary.”

Cleveland Women’s Medical Group was a “medication abortion facility,” writes Mrs. Sullenger, which “referred surgical abortion patients” to the Akron Women’s Medical Group. That abortuary, she reports, “conducted surgical and medication abortions.” These are the two abortion shops which now appear defunct. “All phone lines for both clinics are answered by a busy signal,” reports OR, and are listed on the Internet as “closed.”

“‘Right now, it looks like these two horrific abortion businesses are both permanently closed,’” said OR president Troy Newman in the Sullenger report, “‘and we are very grateful for that. … These closures,’” he said, “‘will mean lives will be saved.’”

Profound Warning

July 11, 2017, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            The best argument against ObamaCare may be lying quietly in a London hospital. Not even a year old, tiny Charlie Gard rests peacefully, completely unaware of the global crusade to keep him alive. The hum of the room’s machines is nothing compared to the commotion outside, where doctors, lawyers, judges and world leaders all fight for the right to decide Charlie’s fate.

            At the center of the storm are Connie Yates and Chris Gard, the 11-month-old’s parents, who can’t understand why the hospital is demanding that they let him die instead of taking him to the US for potentially life-saving treatment. It isn’t a matter of money; the couple has raised more than $1.6 million for the trip. It isn’t a matter of care; doctors at the Vatican and neurologists in America have already offered their services. It isn’t even a matter of transport; the parents can make all of the necessary arrangements.

            This is about a hospital under a system of socialized medicine, determined to decide who deserves care. And according to the bureaucracy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Charlie doesn’t. But if their son is still fighting, Charlie’s parents said, “we’re still fighting.” Thursday [July 13], the family will take as much evidence as they can to the High Court to plead for his release.

            In the meantime, an ocean away, Americans are getting a frightening preview of their future if the Senate doesn’t repeal ObamaCare. “Congress … ought to hang a photo of little Charlie right in the House and Senate as a reminder – amid all the ObamaCare fate debates – why government has no business in health care,” Cheryl Chumley argued in the Washington Times. Like us, she shudders to think of a world where unelected bureaucrats have the power to limit which specialists you see, what treatments are available, and in some cases, whether you’re eligible for care at all.

            This is the same rationing threat FRC raised when ObamaCare was fiercely debated seven years ago. No one wants a board of strangers sitting at the controls in Washington making health decisions for Americans—especially not when innocent lives hang in the balance. But the reality is this: the more control the government has, the more power it has over the application of that care. As Obama’s former Medicare boss famously said, “The decision is not whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

            Vice President Mike Pence understands that Charlie’s case won’t be the exception if America continues down this path. “We hope and pray that little Charlie Gard gets every chance, but the American people ought to reflect on the fact that, for all the talk on the left about single-payer, that’s where it takes us,” he told Rush Limbaugh. “We breathe a prayer and the hope that the single-payer system in England will see its way clear to allow the family – the mother and the father – to be able to choose the greatest extent of life-saving treatment that’s available to their child.” If not, he said soberly, they’ll be “submitted to a government program that says, ‘No we’re going to remove life support from your precious 11-month-old child’ because the government has decided that the prospects of their life are such that they no longer warrant an investment in health services.”

            More than 3,000 miles away, America is at its own healthcare crossroads. While the Senate tries desperately to find consensus on a healthcare bill, surely they have it on the most important piece: the need to repeal ObamaCare. If anything can light a fire under the GOP to act, the image of these two heartbroken parents should. Their agonized faces are the future of ObamaCare. As Paul Diamond warns, “This arrogance of the elites, who presume to know what is the best for a child over those parents who are deemed too emotive, too uneducated or who have the wrong religious views, is not a peculiar British problem. This problem is alive and well in the US [too] and must be countered wherever it is found.” Help save other families from Connie and Chris’s nightmare. Contact your Senators and tell them to repeal ObamaCare! [Capitol switchboard: 1-202/224-3121]

Standing Their Ground

July 10, 2017, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            Texas’s motto is “Friendship,” but it ought to be “Persistence.” For the last several years, state officials have been more determined than anyone to keep Planned Parenthood’s hands off their tax dollars. Even when Pres. Obama made it sting (stopping the flow of $35 million in federal Medicaid funding), then-Governor Rick Perry [R] didn’t blink. Instead, he and the state’s conservatives turned around and created “Healthy Texas Woman,” a program that let them decide which providers are eligible for funding. Instead of funneling the money to Cecile Richards’s group, state leaders wrote their checks to health centers that don’t perform abortions.

            It was a strong stand – one that at least two other states replicated. Iowa and Missouri decided as recently as this year to forgo the millions in federal dollars so that they could defund Planned Parenthood.

            Now, with Donald Trump in the White House, Texas is testing the waters by asking for their federal funding back – with the understanding that the state would still exclude abortion groups. Not surprisingly, the request has sent the Left into a panic. The liberal-leaning Guttmacher Institute bemoaned the fact that: “If CMS [the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services] were to approve this waiver and offer federal funding for this program, it would open the floodgates for this to be implemented in other states.” Pro-lifers sure hope so. It should be up to the states to decide where their healthcare dollars go. And preferably, not to organizations that think abortion is health care.

            Planned Parenthood was already in a bad mood over Congress’s push to defund them. Now, with the possibility of states like Texas doing the same, their staff is beside themselves. Spokeswoman Danielle Wells called it an “underhanded attempt to cut off care at Planned Parenthood.” But there’s nothing underhanded about it. Conservatives have been very open about their desire to shift money to groups that actually care for women with the tests, screenings and information they need. Based on their annual report, the only service Planned Parenthood seems to excel at is abortion.

            Somehow, Cecile Richards still manages to keep a straight face when she says abortion is a tiny fraction of Planned Parenthood’s business, but, as National Review points out, “this tired, bogus statistic has been debunked numerous times – including by left-leaning outlets like Slate and Washington Post. Despite repeating the three percent statistic, the new report lists 328,348 abortions in the US during the 2015-16 fiscal year, up nearly 5,000” over the previous year.

            Even more surprising, abortions now outnumber basic breast exams for the first time in Planned Parenthood’s history. That’s not difficult to believe since overall health screenings have dropped by half since 2011. Cancer exams, the go-to talking point for Planned Parenthood’s defenders, are down a whopping 16,974 at Richards’s clinics. Of course, the number of mammograms performed at Planned Parenthood stayed the same: zero. Even contraception counseling – the group’s bread and butter – fell by 136,244. They even saw 100,000 fewer patients than the year before! So, Texas isn’t the only one wondering: what exactly are our tax dollars buying?

Still Waiting for the Senate

July 13, 2017, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins 

            Senate Republicans rolled out the text of their Better Care Reconciliation Act today with the hopes that it won’t be long until America is looking at ObamaCare in the rearview mirror. Senators, staffers and policy experts like FRC’s team have been working non-stop to arrive at a compromise that can pass the scrutiny of the Senate parliamentarian, maintain the pro-life protections in the House bill and then get 51 votes in the Senate. Late yesterday, the parliamentarian gave thumbs up to the overall bill structure, ruling it could proceed. That doesn’t mean the bill is out of the woods, since each section of it will be vetted by the parliamentarian to ensure it fits within the limited timeframe of the budgetary reconciliation process.

            It was a rare bit of good news for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who knows that without the parliamentarian’s vote, he could forget about the party’s other 52. Although major pieces of the plan are still up in the air, this at least gives Republicans some momentum headed into an intense battle over the specifics.

            With the hopes of an entire country riding on the effort, Pres. Trump told Christian Broadcasting Network there were no more excuses. If Republicans can’t pass a repeal after seven years of promises, it will be “very bad,” the President said bluntly. “I don’t even want to talk about [that],” he went on. “I will be very angry about it, and a lot of people will be very upset,” he warned. “But I’m sitting waiting for that bill to come to my desk. I hope that they do it. … They’ve been promising it ever since ObamaCare, which is failed. It’s a failed experiment. It is totally gone. It’s out of business, and we have to get this done.”

            As difficult as it’s been to juggle his Senators’ agendas, McConnell knows that there’s one issue that can make or break the bill: taxpayer-funded abortion. With pressure bearing down on all sides, leaders understand that protecting the pro-life language is priority number one. From what we’ve seen of the new proposal, this bill does exactly that. Like past versions, this one guts the lion’s share of Planned Parenthood’s funding and blocks the Republicans’ tax credits from flowing to any plan with elective abortion. On top of that, McConnell’s working group actually improved the pro-life language by demanding – for the first time – that Health & Human Services clamp down the ObamaCare segregation requirements.

            Remember when the former President tried to appease Democratic pro-lifers with that phony accounting gimmick that pretended a “third-party” would be paying for abortion coverage for any employers with moral objections? (A lie, we know now, since the funding was coming from the same pot of money.) Well, that was never actually enforced under Obama. That changes now, say Republicans, who are insisting that insurers prove the payment and accounting are separate. In a move that should hearten House Members like Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the GOP is also forcing insurance companies to be transparent about which plans cover abortion and which don’t. (A problem that continues to plague consumers on the ObamaCare exchange.)

            Now that Senate Republicans have crafted a repeal-and-replace plan that does the people’s will on abortion, a lot rests with the parliamentarian, who will rule some time next week on whether the pro-life language passes the reconciliation test. While we don’t know which way she may lean, we do know that if the pro-life protections are pulled, so will the support of most conservatives.