Life Advocacy Briefing

August 14, 2017

House Committee Thwarts Abortion Spending Bids
Missouri Enacts Comprehensive Reform Law
Texas Working on Abortion Coverage Ban, Other Reforms
The Fight Goes on in Arkansas / Back to Nuremberg? / Dem Dilemma

House Committee Thwarts Abortion Spending Bids

DEMOCRATS IN THE U.S. HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE ATTEMPTED, reports Lisa Correnti for the Center for Family & Human Rights (C-Fam), to amend the Foreign Operations Appropriation bill “in a futile attempt to roll back Pres. Donald Trump’s pro-life policies overseas.”

C-Fam characterizes the panel’s meeting as “contentious” and reports that the committee session “lasted until midnight” July 26. “The bill was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation debated in the committee,” reports Ms. Correnti, “due to lawmaker dissatisfaction with the White House proposal to slash the State Dept. and US Agency for International Development [USAID] by about 30%.

“Democrats known as staunch reproductive rights advocates objected to cuts to controversial US agencies, family planning and the inclusion of pro-life language,” writes Ms. Correnti, “codifying the reinstated and modernized Mexico City Policy. 

Leading the abortion lobby’s game was the committee’s Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY), who declared, writes Ms. Correnti, “‘It is unconscionable to tie up $8.8 billion in global health assistance by inserting abortion politics.’” She “proposed an amendment,” notes Ms. Correnti, “to eliminate pro-life language in a section titled ‘Limitations Related to Family Planning & Reproductive Health’ that legislatively strengthens Pres. Trump’s executive action expanding the Mexico City Policy to all global health assistance. Her amendment failed.”

Next up: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), who offered two “hostile amendments,” reports C-Fam, “one to restore funding to all UN agencies including for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN-Women.” She failed in her efforts, including in a second amendment by which Rep. Lee sought to “restore funding to UNFPA and to increase funding for international family planning back to levels maintained under the Obama Administration,” writes Ms. Correnti, who reports that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) is expected to lead the pro-abortion spending battle in the Senate, where the abortion lobby controls a majority of votes in the relevant Appropriations subcommittee.

“It is likely that lawmakers will opt instead for a continuing resolution,” notes Ms. Correnti, “given the approaching deadline of Sept. 30 for the passage of all funding bills to avoid a government shutdown. Though a continuing resolution,” she writes, “maintains funding at current levels, Pres. Trump’s pro-life executive actions will preserve the funding prohibition to international non-government organizations that perform abortion and prevent UNFPA from being eligible.”

Missouri Enacts Comprehensive Reform Law

MISSOURI GOV. ERIC GREITENS (R) SIGNED LEGISLATION in late July, passed during the legislature’s special session, which overturns a Saint Louis ordinance forcing pregnancy help centers and religious schools to hire abortion-advocating staff and prohibits landlords from “discriminating against” abortuaries even as a matter of conscience. The new law also gives the state’s attorney general the authority to prosecute abortionists violating state law, rather than leaving such prosecutions solely in the hands of local authorities.

The new law, reports the Catholic News Agency (CNA), also requires annual “inspections by Missouri’s health department … and stricter requirements on how clinics dispose of fetal tissue after the abortion.

“The [law] will also restrict which medical staff may refer women for an abortion and may have state-mandated discussions about the procedure,” notes CNA. It also provides for a 72-hour waiting period.

Gov. Greitens issued a statement after the legislation passed the General Assembly, reports CNA, citing the Associated Press as source. “‘Today,’” he said, “‘is a great victory for pregnancy care centers that help women and children all over the state. … I’m proud that many of Missouri’s lawmakers stood strong to protect the lives of the innocent unborn and women’s health.’”

The governor had included the legislation in his call for a special legislative session when the General Assembly ended its spring session without taking final action.

The new law also offers “whistleblower protections,” reports Dave Andrusko in National Right to Life News Today, “for employees of abortion clinics who see law after law being broken inside these abortion clinics and want to report it but are afraid of the repercussions by the abortionists.”

And the new law “boosts requirements for pathologists who provide services to abortion facilities,” reports Susan Michelle-Hanson for Live Action.

A new provision also, writes Ms. Michelle-Hanson, quoting an official but unspecified source, “‘creates the crime of interference with medical assistance if an employee of an abortion facility knowingly orders or requests medical personnel to deviate from any applicable standard of care or ordinary practice while providing medical assistance to a patient.’” The provision is meant to bar abortuary personnel from requesting emergency responders not to use sirens when responding to a request for emergency services at the abortuary, a practice which appears to be increasing and adds to the time required for an ambulance to reach a malpractice victim in distress.

The new law’s enactment comes, notes Ms. Michelle-Hanson, “as Planned Parenthood has filed plans with state health regulators to open at least three new clinics in Columbia, Springfield and Joplin. Currently,” she reports, “St. Louis is the lone facility in Missouri where abortions are performed.”

Texas Working on Abortion Coverage Ban, Other Reforms

AS IF TAKING A CUE FROM OREGON’s new abortion-coverage mandate on insurance plans, the Texas Senate has passed the mirror opposite: a bill which, reports Catholic News Agency (CNA), “would ban general insurance policies from covering abortions for private citizens, government employees and those insured under the Affordable Care Act [ObamaCare].” The measure was sent to the Texas House during the summer special session, which will soon adjourn in Austin. The House has passed its own such measure, but a single bill must pass both houses to arrive on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is expected to sign such a proposal into law.

Other pro-life bills sent to the House by the Senate include SB-10, which, according to Texas Right to Life, “strengthens reporting requirements for abortion complications,” and SB-73, which seeks to reform abortion reporting requirements as pertains to those committed on minors and as relates to “certification of when a third-trimester abortion is performed because of the disability of the child.”  

The one exception to the insurance measure, reports CNA, would be for “coverage of abortions that are considered medically necessary to save a woman’s life.” A series of additional exceptions, proposed as amendments to the legislation, were defeated by Senate Republicans, the news service reports. “Women who desire abortion coverage for other reasons,” reports CNA, “would need to purchase a separate, supplemental plan, estimated to cost $12 to $80 a year.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brandon Creighton, was quoted in the report, with attribution to the Austin American-Statesman, expressing concern that “‘Texas is behind, where we always lead on pro-life issues.’ … Currently,” notes CNA, “25 states ban abortion coverage under [ObamaCare], while 10 states prohibit private insurance plans from offering general abortion coverage.”

Sen. Creighton had a quoteworthy retort to those who claimed his bill “discriminates against women.” Those critics, reports CNA, asserted “that the bill doesn’t include vasectomies,” a common jab of the Left. Said Sen. Creighton, reports CNA: “Vasectomies don’t end a human life… .”

Two further bills have been sent to the House, where time is running out for action on the Senate measures. SB-4, according to Texas Right to Life, “would codify the exclusion of the abortion industry” from the state budget and “prevent local governments from funneling money to the profit-driven business.” And SB-11, reports TRL, “would bring much needed reform to [the state’s] unethical loophole” as pertains to Do Not Resuscitate orders, adding a “mandate that a physician receive consent from a patient or the patient’s legal surrogate prior to placing a DNR order on the patient.”

All these measures carried the Senate by strong votes, averaging a two-to-one margin.

The Fight Goes on in Arkansas

A FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE HAS BLOCKED ENFORCEMENT of four pro-life laws recently enacted by and for the State of Arkansas. Judge Kristine Baker’s hammer fell on the reforms even as the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned another of her rulings, freeing Arkansas’s prosecutors to enforce a statute requiring chemical abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges to care for customers experiencing complications, which can be deadly.

Among the four new statutes the Obama appointee struck down are Arkansas’s newly passed law barring dismemberment abortions and a sex-selection ban, as well as a law “impos[ing] new restrictions,” writes Andrew DeMillo for Associated Press, “on the disposal of fetal tissue from abortions. The plaintiffs argued that it could also block access by requiring notification of a third party, such as the woman’s sexual partner or her parents, to determine what happens to the fetal remains. … 

“The judge also blocked a law,” writes Mr. DeMillo, “that would expand a requirement that physicians performing abortions for patients under 14 take certain steps to preserve embryonic or fetal tissue and notify police where the minor resides. The new measure,” notes Mr. DeMillo, “would have raised the age requirement to less than 17 years of age.” Preservation of the fetal tissue is a useful tool for authorities investigating rape or incest cases, as the tissue could be used to identify the baby’s father.

Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge (R) is expected to appeal the latest Baker rulings to the 8th Circuit.

Back to Nuremberg?

August 3, 2017, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            Nobody’s perfect – but scientists are working on it. For the first time on US soil, a team of researchers announced that it had successfully “edited” the DNA of a human embryo to fix a genetic heart problem. Although the scientists are insisting the tests are very basic, the ethics surrounding them are anything but. The goal, they explain, is to correct disease-causing genes in embryos before the babies are born. And while it sounds like an honorable pursuit, the path to get there is filled with moral landmines.

            As the Washington Post points out, this is just the latest development in the kill-to-cure community, where scientists discard human life to improve others’. “The embryos were allowed to grow for only a few days, and there was never any intention to implant them to create a pregnancy,” reporters note.

            Apart from the systematic destruction of embryos, the Post goes on to warn, “This most recent work is particularly sensitive because it involves changes to the germ line – that is, genes that could be passed on to future generations. The US forbids the use of federal funds for embryo research, and the FDA is prohibited from considering any clinical trials involving genetic modifications that can be inherited.”

            While some cheered the breakthrough, others were horrified. After all, experts wonder, where do you draw the line? First genetically modified genes, then what? Animal-human hybrids? Human clones? Designer babies? Manufacturing young humans in a petri dish with genetic modifications is an abuse of science – but it also takes resources away from groundbreaking treatments for people who are already suffering from diseases.

            The irony of these trials, FRC’s Anna Grossu argued on WUSA-9[TV], is that “People are afraid of GMO food, and here we are creating genetically modified human embryos. And not only are we creating them, we’re manipulating them and killing them. In fact, in this process … 12 human embryos were created, manipulated and then killed. This is not ethical.” Even the scientific community has no idea what kind of genes will result from these tests – and yet it is willing to change the human genome forever.

            People aren’t guinea pigs. And if anything goes under the microscope, it should be how the government responds. When Pres. Trump decided to keep Obama’s NIH director, Francis Collins, pro-lifers were understandably concerned. Led by Cong. Jim Banks (R-IN), dozens of conservatives wrote a letter to the White House, asking him to appoint a director who “aligns with [Trump’s] own priorities.” Among their biggest concerns, the Members warn that Collins “has a record of supporting human embryonic stemcell research, science that involves the dismemberment and instrumental use of human embryos from fertility clinics,” and “supports the unethical and scientifically questionable practice of human cloning” (which creates embryos for the sole purpose of harvesting their cells before killing them).

            “We believe the American people deserve a leader at this agency who is your appointment, whose principles align with your pro-life values and your new Administration’s policy goals.” That has never been more important than now, when research like this has created a legal and moral vacuum that Pres. Trump should fill with guidance and oversight. Otherwise, if we’re not careful, science’s slippery slope will be on the verge of a moral avalanche.

Dem Dilemma

Aug, 3, 2017, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            When the GOP stumbled on its biggest priority of the year, most people thought they’d handed the Left a huge political opportunity. Unfortunately for Democrats, they’re too busy fighting over abortion to seize it. While the Republicans walk a rocky road after the healthcare collapse, it’s not exactly a picnic at the DNC, where a civil war is brewing over the party’s decision to back 2018 pro-lifers.

            [US Rep.] Ben Ray Lujan [D-NM], who has the unenviable job of trying to win back the House from the GOP, knows that picking up 24 seats means a major reboot on the party’s social agenda. November should have been proof enough, but, like most liberals, Lujan didn’t really get the message until pro-life Democrat Heath Mello lost a mayoral race in Nebraska – the casualty of a fierce inner-party squabble over abortion. Not anxious to repeat that mistake, Lujan’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) may as well have detonated a bomb when he announced, “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates … . As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district – that can win in these districts across America.”

            Feminists, abortion groups and celebrities blew a gasket, demanding that Lujan walk back the diversity their party was supposedly built on. An outraged Rosie O’Donnell tried to start a grassroots rebellion on Twitter, calling on women to leave the Democratic Party. “Fight the men who want to take away women’s rights in our own party? [Expletive] them for even considering it. Seriously.” Lujan, meanwhile, insisted that toning down the extremism that cost Hillary Clinton the White House was the only path to victory. “To pick up 24 [seats] and to get to 218, that is the job. We’ll need a broad coalition to get that done. We are going to need all of that; we have to be a big family in order to win the House back.”

            Abortion zealots like Lindy West disagree. In a shrill column for the New York Times, she ranted about the White House being run by “19 hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner,” then turned her attention to “indefensible” pro-lifers, whose cause, she insists, kills women. On that we agree; abortion has destroyed the lives of tens of millions of unborn girls who will never have the chance to write surly op-eds about the “virtues” of a procedure that most Americans (including abortion supporters) consider “morally wrong.” Then, with the same ideological condescension that turned off voters last year, she insists, “Abortion is normal. Abortion is common, necessary and happening every day across party lines, economic lines and religious lines. Abortion is also legal and, contrary to what the pundit economy would have you believe, not particularly controversial.”

            Abortion? Normal? The American people don’t think so. Overwhelming majorities on both sides want the procedure significantly limited. And that includes 80% of millennials, who support the GOP’s push to ban abortion at the 20-week mark, when babies feel pain. That’s a far cry from Hillary Clinton, who talked about the dismemberment of babies like she was discussing a routine colonoscopy. Her party eventually followed her down that dark path, approving a Democratic platform of over-the-top extremism that not only wanted no limits on abortion – but demanded Americans pay for them!

            For the first time in history, Democrats called for overturning the Hyde and Helms amendments, a position so radical that even Pres. Obama refused to endorse it. If you thought the last two Democratic platforms alienated moderates, the 2016 edition was an eviction notice for anyone in the party not pledging allegiance to Planned Parenthood. And that’s no empty threat. As experts from Stephen F. Austin University noted in a blockbuster study, parties vote in line with their platforms 80% of the time.

            The incredible shrinking tent ended up having a major effect on the base, which let Democrats know in no uncertain terms on Election Day that the country is nowhere near its fanatical approach to abortion. “Safe, legal and rare” is so far away at this point that we’d need the Hubble Space Telescope to catch a glimpse of it,” Alexandra DeSanctis wrote on National Review Online. “Can Democrats be pro-life?” she asks. Not when they’re under the thumb of women like West, who, she says, are losing their marbles over Lujan’s “big family” agenda. It’s a delicate dance for Democrats. “If they lighten up a little, they will incur the wrath of the death industry. Just ask Rep. Lujan. If they don’t lighten up, they may wind up unemployed,” the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue argues. “Just ask Hillary.” …