Life Advocacy Briefing

February 12, 2018

Justice & Common Sense / Mississippi Paving Deeper Path
Successor Carries On in Kansas / March for Life Speech: Speaker Ryan
Science Says / House Voting Record

Justice & Common Sense

AMICUS BRIEFS BACKING THE NATION’s PREGNANCY HELP CENTERS have been filed with the Supreme Court by the Justice Dept. and 148 Members of the US House and 16 Senators, according to Dave Andrusko, reporting for National Right to Life News Today (NRLNT).

“The high court,” Mr. Andrusko explains, “is set to hold oral arguments in National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra [March 20]. At issue is the so-called ‘Reproductive FACT Act,’ passed on a strict party-line vote in California in 2015. The law forces ‘privately funded pro-life pregnancy centers to promote taxpayer-funded abortions, threatening crippling fines for non-compliance,’ according to Pregnancy Help News,” quoted by Mr. Andrusko. “The law,” he writes, “is a blatant infringement of First Amendment freedoms of speech and free exercise of religion.”

The 44-page brief filed by the Justice Dept., he reports, “forcefully maintains that the required notice … ‘effectively conscripts licensed clinics like petitioners into advertising state-supported services, including abortion, that they do not provide and that they strongly oppose.’”

Included in the 20-page Congressional brief is the argument, quoted by NRLNT, “‘Not only have these pro-life centers chosen “not [to] otherwise make” abortion referrals, they exist to communicate precisely the opposite viewpoint and offer life-affirming options to women. To promote a mother’s option to get an abortion would defeat these centers’ core message. Moreover,’” reads the brief, as quoted by Mr. Andrusko, “‘many pro-life centers’ deeply held moral convictions and religious beliefs would be violated by forced involvement in abortion referrals.’”

Mississippi Paving Deeper Path

THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI IS BREAKING NEW GROUND in abortion-control legislation. A proposal passed the state House on Feb. 2 to outlaw abortions of babies who have gestated more than 15 weeks, five weeks earlier than the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which has been sweeping through many state legislatures and has passed the United States House, only to fall short of the 60 votes demanded by US Senate rules.

Sensibly, the bill provides no discriminatory language against babies conceived in sex crimes.

“‘The rest of the civilized world understands the severe health risks entailed by late-term abortions that occur after the first trimester,’ Dr. Jameson Taylor, acting president of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, told LifeSiteNews” as reported by Claire Chretien. “‘This is a commonsense approach to protecting maternal health and protecting the life of the unborn.’”

Right within the legislation is a provision, reports Ms. Chretien, establishing, “‘The majority of abortion procedures performed after 15 weeks’ gestation are dilation-and-evacuation procedures, which involve the use of surgical instruments to crush and tear the unborn child apart before removing the pieces of the dead child from the womb. … The Legislature finds that the intentional commitment of such acts for nontherapeutic or elective reasons is a barbaric practice, dangerous for the maternal patient and demeaning to the medical profession.’”

The House vote on the measure was a resounding 79 to 31, and Dr. Taylor told LifeSiteNews, “‘Recent polling (January 2018) indicates the vast majority (76%) of voters support commonsense laws regarding abortion, with a limit after the first trimester being one of the preferred options.’”

Of course, rolling back abortion in gestational stages offers a challenge for ultimately returning to fundamental protection of human life in American jurisprudence, as earlier bans will, when attempted, pick up a cloud of controversy. When legislation is predicated on sensible indicators like protecting pain-capable unborn children (20-week ban) or protecting babies whose heartbeat can be detected (banning at six to seven weeks), the securing of public support follows a clearer path toward ultimately suctioning off the profit of the abortion cartel.

But if the people of Mississippi choose to drive most second- and third-trimester abortionists out of their state, bless them! On, now, to the state Senate.

Successor Carries On in Kansas

THE NEW GOVERNOR OF KANSAS, Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) called for a state pro-life constitutional amendment in an address to the state’s legislature last Wednesday, his first major policy speech since succeeding to the office held until days before by former US Sen. Sam Brownback (R).  Gov. Brownback left office upon his confirmation by the US Senate to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

The amendment he is proposing, according to Associated Press (AP) writer John Hanna, would “protect the state’s abortion restrictions. …

“His call for a state constitutional amendment on abortion,” explains Mr. Hanna, “is a response to another case before the Kansas Supreme Court. Two abortion providers,” reports AP, “are challenging a 2015 state law that enacted the nation’s first ban on a common second-trimester procedure that critics call ‘dismemberment abortion.’ A trial court judge ruled,” writes Mr. Hanna, “that the state constitution protects abortion rights independently of the US Constitution, creating the possibility that state courts could strike down restrictions that the federal courts permit.

“‘This is violence against basic facts,’ [Gov.] Colyer said,” reports Mr. Hanna. “‘This cannot stand.’”

March for Life Speech: Speaker Ryan

Jan. 19, 2018, March for Life speech by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), transcribed by Life Advocacy Briefing

            Hey, thank you. Everybody, how’re you doing? Awesome! Look at this, look at this crowd. Oh, my gosh. Wow! Look at this. Hey, can we just thank God for giving us a pro-life President back in the White House?

            Oh, man. What a crowd. This is so exciting. You know what? It’s so exciting to see so many young people here today. Your energy is so infectious. You know, I’ve been participating in the March for Life for years, and there’s one thing that has always struck me. And there’s one thing that strikes me again right now, and that is the vigor and the enthusiasm of the pro-life movement! Looking out on this crowd, I can see there are people from all ages, all walks of life. But the young people here is what is so inspiring because it tells us that this is a movement that is on the rise.

            And do you know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because truth is on our side. Life begins at conception. You know why the pro-life movement is on the rise? Because science is on our side. Just look at the ultrasounds that have shown us more about the pre-born child than ever before. How they develop, how they react, how they feel pain. And most importantly, the pro-life movement is on the rise because we have love on our side. We believe every person is worthy of love and dignity. That is why the pro-life movement is on the rise.

            And you know, one thing that gets sort of lost in this controversy is just how compassionate the pro-life movement really is. This is what is lost by all those detractors out there. I am so proud of the work that this movement has done to help women, especially women who’ve gone through the pain of abortion. This movement helps them find healing and acceptance. I’m so proud of this movement and how it supports single mothers who are struggling to raise their children. How it gives them the resources through thousands of phenomenal crisis pregnancy centers around the country. This is the face of the pro-life movement. You know what? We’re so proud of the movement and what it is doing to reach out to past and present abortion workers. To help those of new perspectives to find jobs and a fresh start. This is true compassion, this is real love. That’s what this movement is all about.

            And it’s why the March for Life is such a joyful march. Anyone out here today can feel the joy in this crowd, anyone watching on TV can see it. People come from all over the country. You march with your churches, you march with your friends, your neighbors. You are marching with joy and hope, not with anger and hate. You don’t see that on the other side, do you?

            You know what is so exciting and so blessed here, is I get to stand up here with these phenomenal pro-life stalwarts in Congress – let’s hear it for these men and women in Congress. This is the face of the pro-life movement in America. This is the face of the pro-life movement in Congress. Thank you, thank you. We strive to make our time in Congress a march for life itself. We strive to fight for the unborn. To pass important pro-life legislation through Congress. To work with the Trump Administration to pass pro-life policies and laws. And you know what? We’re making a lot of progress. In the House, we passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. And in the House, we passed the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which restricts abortion after twenty weeks. We passed the Conscience Protection Act, which ensures no one is forced to produce an abortion against his or her will. Religious freedom is the First Amendment, it is the first protection of our Bill of Rights. And just a few minutes ago, today, we passed the Born Alive Survivors Protection Act. It protects the life of those babies who suffer from failed abortions. But most importantly, like the March for Life, we are striving to do this without judgment in our hearts, but with compassion and with love for all of the victims.

            I want to thank you. I want to thank you for being here, for taking the time, for the prayers, for the joy and for the compassion and for the love that you demonstrate right here in this March. This is why the pro-life movement is on the rise. Remember, these are our most powerful tools against the pains of abortion. This is the pro-life movement. This is one that we will win this day. Thank you, God bless you, and tell everybody, come back next year and bring three friends. God bless all you guys. Thank you very much.

Science Says

Feb. 7, 2018, BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet

            Writing at The Atlantic, Emma Green chronicles how breakthroughs in medical technology and advances in our understanding of pregnancy have fueled the movement to end abortion.

            Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, it’s become clear that this Supreme Court decision and the sexual revolution that spawned it were both based on ignorance – ignorance of what really happens inside the womb, and of what unborn human beings really are.

            Since that time, a curtain has lifted. So-called “fetuses,” once shrouded in mystery, their forms hidden in what the psalmist poetically calls, “the depths of the earth,” have become visible to the world. Thanks to ultrasound technology, three-dimensional imaging, better neonatal care and even fetal surgery, we’re able to look inside the womb.

            Pro-life activist and mom Ashley McGuire tells The Atlantic that her fellow millennials grew up in “an entirely different world of science and technology than the Roe generation.” In 1973, it seemed plausible that the unborn, especially during early development, were nothing more than “blobs of tissue.” In 2018, seeing babies on ultrasound and celebrating them as babies has become a matter of course for parents.

            Courtesy of science, images and even videos of children curled up, thumbs in their mouths, have been imprinted on our cultural consciousness. And no one who seriously reckons with these images or is not willfully blind can call what they depict as mere “blobs of tissue.”

            And therein lies the problem for pro-choice activists. You see, the reasoning of the abortion rights movement in general – and Roe v. Wade in particular – depends on two assumptions. First, that unborn babies are meaningfully different from born ones. Several decades of science have demolished this idea. We can see into the womb now and observe a baby hiccupping, sucking its thumb, clapping, practicing breathing and even playing. The obvious question when confronted with such a spectacle is how this child differs from the one in the cradle.

            Second, the reasoning of Roe specifically invoked viability – the stage at which an unborn baby can survive outside its mother’s womb. But science has changed all of that, too. Advances in neonatal intensive care have pushed the point of viability back from 28 weeks to around 22, and it continues to move earlier and earlier with each year.

            All of this has left the American medical system in a state of schizophrenia. Doctors and nurses will work around the clock heroically to save the life of a baby born prematurely. And yet in some cases, those very same doctors and nurses will be called upon to end the life of another baby the same age or even older. 

            Ultimately, writes Green, the reason science has been such a powerful ally to the pro-life cause is because it resonates with the “common sense of fetal heartbeats and swelling stomachs.” It gives us permission to voice something we already know at an intuitive level: The unborn are babies and should be treated as such.

            Former Bush bioethics appointee and Notre Dame professor, O. Carter Snead, explains that science serves as a “bridge to [our] moral imagination.”

            By itself, science isn’t enough. But it can lift the curtain that made it so easy to claim ignorance of what and who the unborn really are. And in that sense, those who still refuse to admit the humanity of the littlest humans are the true “science deniers.”

House Voting Record

HRes-694 –Rule for consideration of HR-4712, Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act – Jan. 18, 2018 – Adopted – 228-189 (Democrats in italics)

Voting “yes” / pro-Life: Aderholt, Brooks, Byrne, Palmer, Roby, Rogers/AL; Young/AK; Biggs, McSally, Schweikert/AZ; Crawford, Hill, Westerman, Womack/AR; Calvert, Cook, Denham, Hunter, Issa, Knight, LaMalfa, McCarthy, McClintock, Nunes, Rohrabacher, Royce, Valadao, Walters/CA; Buck, Coffman, Lamborn, Tipton/CO; Bilirakis, Buchanan, Curbelo, DeSantis, Diaz-Balart, Dunn, Gaetz, Mast, Posey, F.Rooney, T.Rooney, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross, Rutherford, Webster, Yoho/FL; Allen, Carter, Collins, Ferguson, Graves, Handel, Hice, Loudermilk, A.Scott, Woodall/GA; Labrador, Simpson/ID; Bost, R.Davis, Hultgren, Kinzinger, LaHood, Lipinski, Roskam, Shimkus/IL; Banks, Brooks, Bucshon, Hollingsworth, Messer, Rokita, Walorski/IN; Blum, Young/IA; Estes, Jenkins, Marshall, Yoder/KS; Barr, Comer, Guthrie, Massie, Rogers/KY; Abraham, Graves, Higgins, Johnson/LA; Poliquin/ME; Harris/MD; Amash, Bergman, Bishop, Huizenga, Mitchell, Moolenaar, Trott, Upton, Walberg/MI; Emmer, Lewis, Paulsen, Peterson/MN; Harper, Kelly, Palazzo/MS; Graves, Hartzler, Long, Luetkemeyer, Smith, Wagner/MO; Gianforte/MT; Bacon, Fortenberry, Smith/NE; Amodei/NV; Frelinghuysen, Lance, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Smith/NJ; Pearce/NM; Collins, Donovan, Faso, Katko, King, Reed, Stefanik, Tenney, Zeldin/NY; Budd, Foxx, Holding, Hudson, Jones, McHenry, Meadows, Pittenger, Rouzer, Walker/NC; Cramer/ND; Chabot, Davidson, Gibbs, Johnson, Jordan, Joyce, Latta, Renacci, Stivers, Turner, Wenstrup/OH; Bridenstine, Cole, Lucas, Mullin, Russell/OK; Walden/OR; Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Marino, Perry, Smucker/PA; Duncan, Gowdy, Rice, Sanford, Wilson/SC; Black, Blackburn, DesJarlais, Duncan, Fleischmann, Kustoff, Roe/TN; Arrington, Babin, Barton, Brady, Burgess, Carter, Conaway, Culberson, Farenthold, Flores, Gohmert, Granger, Hensarling, Hurd, S.Johnson, Marchant, McCaul, Olson, Poe, Ratcliffe, Sessions, Smith, Thornberry, Weber, Williams/TX; Bishop, Curtis, Love, Stewart/UT; Brat, Comstock, Garrett, Goodlatte, Griffith, Taylor, Wittman/VA; Herrera-Beutler, McMorris-Rodgers, Newhouse, Reichert/WA; Jenkins, McKinley, Mooney/WV; Duffy, Gallagher, Grothman, Sensenbrenner/WI; Cheney/WY.

Voting “no” / anti-Life: Sewell/AL; Gallego, Grijalva, O’Halleran, Sinema/AZ; Aguilar, Barragan, Bass, Bera, Brownley, Carbajal, Cardenas, Chu, Correa, Costa, Davis, DeSaulnier, Eshoo, Garamendi, Gomez, Huffman, Khanna, Lee, Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Matsui, McNerney, Napolitano, Panetta, Pelosi, Peters, Roybal-Allard, Ruiz, Sanchez, Schiff, Sherman, Speier, Swalwell, Takano, Thompson, Torres, Vargas, Waters/CA; DeGette, Perlmutter, Polis/CO; Courtney, DeLauro, Esty, Himes, Larson/CT; Blunt-Rochester/DE; Castor, Crist, Demings, Deutch, Frankel, Hastings, Lawson, Murphy, Soto, Wasserman-Schultz, Wilson/FL; Bishop, Johnson, Lewis, D.Scott/GA; Gabbard, Hanabusa/HI; Bustos, D.Davis, Foster, Gutierrez, Kelly, Krishnamoorthi, Quigley, Rush, Schakowsky, Schneider/IL; Carson, Visclosky/IN; King, Loebsack/IA; Yarmuth/KY; Richmond/LA; Pingree/ME; Brown, Delaney, Hoyer, Raskin, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes/MD; Capuano, Clark, Keating, Kennedy, Lynch, McGovern, Moulton, Neal, Tsongas/MA; Dingell, Kildee, Lawrence, Levin/MI; Ellison, McCollum, Nolan, Walz/MN; Thompson/MS; Clay, Cleaver/MO; Kihuen, Rosen, Titus/NV; Kuster, Shea-Porter/NH; Gottheimer, Norcross, Pallone, Pascrell, Payne, Sires, Watson-Coleman/NJ; Lujan, Lujan-Grisham/NM; Clarke, Crowley, Engel, Espaillat, Higgins, Jeffries, Lowey, C.Maloney, S.Maloney, Meeks, Meng, Nadler, Rice, Serrano, Slaughter, Suozzi, Tonko, Velazquez/NY; Adams, Butterfield, Price/NC; Beatty, Fudge, Kaptur, Ryan/OH; Blumenauer, DeFazio, Schrader/OR; Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Doyle, Evans/PA; Cicilline, Langevin/RI; Clyburn/SC; Cohen, Cooper/TN; Castro, Cuellar, Doggett, Gonzalez, A.Green, G.Green, Jackson-Lee, E.B. Johnson, O’Rourke, Veasey, Vela/TX; Welch/VT; Beyer, Connolly, McEachin, Scott/VA; DelBene, Heck, Jayapal, Kilmer, Larsen, Smith/WA; Moore, Pocan/WI.

Not Voting: Gosar/AZ; Scalise/LA; Cummings/MD; Bonamici/OR; Barletta, Kelly, Meehan, Rothfus, Shuster, Thompson/PA; Norman/SC; Noem/SD; Kind, Ryan/WI.