Life Advocacy Briefing

May 14, 2018

Taking a Break / Moving the Ball
Down Syndrome Protection Advancing in Pennsylvania
Congressional Contests / Quoteworthy
Sad Reality / Get Over It!

Taking a Break

LIFE ADVOCACY BRIEFING WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED next Monday, as our editorial staff are traveling during our customary writing time. We expect to be back on Memorial Day, May 28.

Moving the Ball

IOWA GOV. KIM REYNOLDS (R) HAS SIGNED her state’s Heartbeat Law, outlawing the abortion killing of babies whose heartbeat can be detected. The bill had passed the Iowa Senate 27 to 19, after clearing the House 51 to 46 following more than eight hours of debate, according to Madeline Farber for Fox News, who noted that previous Iowa law permitted abortion until 20 weeks of a baby’s gestation.

“Babies’ hearts begin beating in the womb about three weeks into pregnancy,” notes Calvin Freiburger for, “and are usually heard by new parents at their first or second trip to the doctor.”

Lawsuits had already been threatened – before the governor signed the measure – by Planned Parenthood’s Iowa outposts and the Left’s favorite lawyer team, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Planned Parenthood, according to LifeSiteNews, claimed “the bill protecting babies with beating hearts was ‘gross,’” adding, “‘See you in court.’”

The new law “is expected to stop most abortions,” reports Mr. Freiburger, “starting between 6 to 8 weeks.” Unfortunately, the new law does allow for the killing of some babies, those, reports LifeSiteNews, “conceived in rape if reported within 45 days, babies conceived in incest if the incest is reported within 140 days or [those thought to be suffering] fetal abnormalities deemed ‘incompatible with life,’ and for physical threats to the mother’s life.”

Some pro-life strategists, notes Mr. Freiburger, “oppose Heartbeat legislation on the premise that Roe v. Wade should not be directly challenged until the Supreme Court has a clear pro-life majority that would strike [Roe] down rather than reaffirm it. However,” he writes, “supporters of the bill such as GOP State Sen. Rick Bertrand say they’re counting on such a fight and plan to win it. ‘We created an opportunity to take a run at Roe v. Wade – 100%,’ he said.”

The Fox News report quotes Sen. Bertrand – apparently in a floor speech – declaring, “‘This bill will be the vehicle that will ultimately provide change and provide the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. There’s nothing hidden here about the agenda,’” he declared. “‘You know, today the pro-life movement won a battle, but the war rages on. My Republican colleagues,’” he said, “‘this is the vote of your career.’”

The sponsor of the federal Heartbeat Bill, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) “says,” reports Mr. Freiburger, “that by the time such a law makes its way through the courts, it’s very likely that Pres. Trump will have appointed another Supreme Court Justice, who will rule on the side of Life.”

Down Syndrome Protection Advancing in Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA’s HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS PASSED a Down Syndrome Protection Act on a stunning margin of 139 to 56, a veto-proof majority. The bill must be taken up by the Senate and passed there before it faces the veto pen of radically pro-abortion Gov. Tom Wolf (D).

Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation legislative director Maria Gallagher, writing in National Right to Life News Today (NRL/NT), has urged her fellow Pennsylvanians to contact their state senators to seek their votes for HB-2050, the Down Syndrome Protection Act.

“The disability rights bill has tremendous crossover appeal,” declares Ms. Gallagher. “It is being backed by both Republicans and Democrats, men and women. In fact,” she notes in her NRL/NT report, “legislators who have voted pro-abortion in the past embraced the legislation because of its laser focus on children with disabilities.”

Among the prime sponsors of the bill in the House was Speaker Mike Turzai (R), who, notes Ms. Gallagher, “eloquently stated the case for the legislation: ‘I believe in the dignity of every human being. None of us are born perfect, and we all have something beautiful to contribute. Pennsylvania,’” he declared, “‘is a loving, compassionate community, and we want to extend welcome and support to Down Syndrome families. They need to know they’re not alone.’”

One of the speakers at a Harrisburg Capitol media event, reports Ms. Gallagher, was Karen Gaffney, who has Down Syndrome and “impressed the crowd with her impassioned remarks. [Ms.] Gaffney defied the odds,” reports NRL/NT, “by swimming the English Channel and receiving an honorary doctorate for her many accomplishments.

“‘Those of us with Down Syndrome and our families face a very difficult future,’” she declared before the Capitol crowd. “‘We face a possibility of wiping out all of the tremendous progress we have made. Just as we are making so much progress, a whole industry has grown up focused on prenatal screening – screening that would end our lives before we take our first breath. Now that you can test for Down Syndrome before birth,’” noted Ms. Gaffney, “‘there are many experts in the medical community that say this extra chromosome we carry around is not compatible with life. Not compatible with life?’ asked [Ms.] Gaffney. ‘After everything we have done, I would say we are more than compatible. We are what life is all about. Our lives are worth living and our lives are worth learning about.’” And defending. 

Tragically and stupidly, a similar law elsewhere protecting preborn babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome was struck down in late April by a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. That law was signed in March, 2016, by Indiana’s then-Gov. Mike Pence, now our Vice President, and contained other provisions as well. It is not yet known whether the State of Indiana will further appeal.

Congressional Contests

LAST TUESDAY’s PRIMARY ELECTIONS reshuffled ballots in several US Senate and House races to be settled in November.

In West Virginia, mixed-record Sen. Joe Manchin survived a primary challenge to win the Democratic party’s nomination for re-election. He will be challenged by GOP Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who has a record in office as a pro-life champion. In the state’s 3rd Congressional District, State Del. Carol Miller won the GOP nomination to succeed Rep. Evan Jenkins (R), who stepped away from his district to challenge Mr. Morrisey in the Senate primary. Delegate Miller is the assistant majority leader in the State House and sponsored legislation, notes Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), “to protect minor girls from being taken for abortions without their parents’ knowledge and has been a pro-life advocate for nearly a decade.” SBA List backed Del. Miller in her primary and will no doubt assist her in the general election, when she will face State Sen. Richard Ojeda (D), who in February voted against a state constitutional amendment proposal establishing: “Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected State Representatives and State Senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.” The amendment proposal will appear on the West Virginia ballot in November.

In Indiana, the most noted race was the GOP primary contest to choose the opponent to embattled mixed-record Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). The result was the nomination of businessman and former state legislator Mike Braun, who was endorsed by former US Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a long-time pro-life champion, who called Mr. Braun “a social and fiscal conservative.”  As a state lawmaker, Mr. Braun was endorsed by Indiana Right to Life. The two candidates he bested in the primary are both incumbent Congressmen who have given up their opportunity for re-election. State Rep. Jim Baird won the GOP nomination to succeed Rep. Todd Rokita in Indiana’s 4th district, where the Democratic nominee is Tobi Beck; Rep. Baird was endorsed in the primary by Indiana Right to Life, but a March Democratic debate showed all candidates, including Ms. Beck, as “pro-choice,” according to Voters in the 6th District will no longer see Rep. Luke Messer’s name on the ballot, as he was one of those defeated for the Senate nomination, but they will see a familiar name: Vice President Mike Pence’s brother Greg won the GOP nomination for the seat the Vice President held for a dozen years, defeating four candidates. His Democratic opponent will be Jeannine Lee Lake, who bested five candidates in her primary; we were unable to discover her stand on abortion. 

In Ohio, pro-life Rep. Jim Renacci won the GOP nomination to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat and pro-abortion fanatic. Winning the House seat GOP nomination in Mr. Renacci’s 16th district was former professional football player Anthony Gonzalez, who defeated a state senator who was backed by SBA List; Mr. Gonzalez declares himself “pro-life” and will be opposed in November by healthcare professional Susan Moran Palmer, whose abortion stand was not prominent in the six-way primary. In the 12th Congressional District, where incumbent pro-life Cong. Pat Tiberi has resigned, last Tuesday brought both primary elections for the November contest and for the special election to be held in August; the party’s voters chose the same candidates for both of those elections: GOP nominee State Sen. Troy Balderson, who narrowly topped a field of nine in one primary and 10 in the other, and Democratic nominee Danny O’Connor, who defeated five other contenders in one and six in the other.  Sen. Balderson, according to his campaign website, calls himself “a lifelong conservative [who] believes in protecting all life.”  Mr. O’Connor, who is a county recorder, supports “abortion rights,” according to The Hill’s Ben Kamisar.


FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HILLARY CLINTON (D), tweeting her appreciation to Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards on the occasion of her stepping down from the post on May 1, quoted by “Thank you, Cecile Richards, for your extraordinary leadership over the last 12 years as president of Planned Parenthood – and for getting up every single day to fight for a world where women’s rights truly are human rights.”

Sad Reality

May 7, 2018, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            For Robert Rho, destroying tiny lives was all in a day’s work. He performed so many abortions, more than 40,000, that one more death probably seemed insignificant – until 2016, when that death was one of his 30-year-old patients.

            Jaime Morales was six months pregnant when she went to Rho’s office in Queens. It turned out to be the last time she would go anywhere. In snuffing out the life of her perfectly viable baby, the New York doctor managed to sever Jaime’s uterine aorta, rip her cervix, and pierce her uterine wall. Rho knew she was in danger. When the bleeding wouldn’t stop, he had to perform another procedure. It didn’t work, but after she collapsed in the bathroom, Rho sent her home anyway – refusing to call an ambulance.

            In the car, Jaime slipped into unconsciousness – and by the time her sister reached 911 and got her to a hospital, it was too late. The young mother died. Now, two years later, Rho is in court, where he should have faced 15 years for manslaughter. But, just as the jury was about to weigh in with its verdict, the attorney reached a plea deal with prosecutors that will let Rho off with just months in prison – a victory his lawyers call “monumental.”

            For the Morales family, who lost so much on that awful July day, Rho’s actions were no “accident.” It was negligence of the worst kind – the sort of criminal callousness that’s taken hold in abortion centers across the country. Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal argued that this whole case went beyond malpractice: “It’s about greed and arrogance.” Jaime Lee Morales, he told the jury, “bled to death because this defendant did nothing.”

            Unfortunately, Rho is just the symbol of a broader abortion movement that cares more about making a profit than providing for the well-being of women. His Liberty Women’s Health of Queens office is closed, but hundreds of other abortion offices are still open and operating without the barest of concerns for mothers’ health. Planned Parenthood has spent millions of dollars fighting common sense standards and safety regulations that would help keep women like Jaime Morales alive. To their dismay, even states with some of the bluest roots stand behind sensible measures like abortion waiting periods, fetal pain bills, hospital admitting privileges, mandatory ultrasounds, licensed staff requirements – and, in a minor’s case, getting a mom or dad’s okay.

            For an industry supposedly predicated on “women’s health,” you’d think the clinics would be supportive. Think again. These businesses would rather make money than spend any on state-of-the-art care for mothers. Instead of giving women the cutting-edge care they claim to, groups like Planned Parenthood want to subject mothers to clinics with looser regulations than a public pool. No wonder taxpayers are desperate to defund them!

Get Over It!

May 3, 2018, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            The presidential election was a year and a half ago, but some on the Left just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the results. Different administrations have always had different agendas. It’s a fact of political life. Abortion groups, on the other hand, seem to think it’s outrageous – wrong, even – for Donald Trump to have his own ideas about how our government runs. But instead of making their case to voters, who put leaders in power, these activists run to their old faithful ally: the courts.

            It’s a strategy as old as liberalism itself. When you can’t get voters to do your bidding, ask judges to do it for you! It’s the Left’s favorite way of forcing on the nation what Americans would never choose for themselves. Same-sex marriage was a perfect example. Two years ago, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) herself admitted that redefining marriage wasn’t nearly as popular as they’d led everyone to believe. “Legislatively, we couldn’t really succeed,” she said, “but from the courts and the rest… that victory has been won.”

            These days, the Trump administration can’t even sneeze in the Left’s direction without some extremist organization taking them to court over it. We’ve seen lawsuits over the most benign exercises of his executive power – his role as commander-in-chief, his authority over immigration, education, national security, and his own agencies’ spending! Now that HHS is rethinking Obama’s “family planning” strategy, groups like Planned Parenthood are furious that anyone would reconsider their multi-million dollar slice of taxpayer pie.

            “The Trump administration is clearly trying to push their abstinence-only agenda,” argued Planned Parenthood attorney Carrie Flaxman. Well, unfortunately for them, that’s the President’s prerogative! If Planned Parenthood wanted the White House to promote their values, they should have persuaded more Americans to vote for Hillary Clinton. Elections have consequences – and one of 2016’s is that President Trump is finally taking an honest look at the country’s approach to family planning. And guess what he discovered? The same thing as Obama’s CDC: the Left’s strategy isn’t working.

            HHS did what voters elected them to do: rewrite the rules to emphasize sexual risk avoidance (or abstinence). There shouldn’t be anything controversial about that. Nothing about these regulations outlaws contraception or contraception funding. All the Trump administration has done is level the playing field for groups that promote the most effective – and most popular – approach.  

            You can’t sue an administration for winning the election and running the country by a different ideology than yours. Yet, still, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are taking the President to court for, well, being the President. What’s the point of even having executive and legislative branches if these extremists insist on running everything through the courts?

            “It’s hard to believe that a federal program that is dedicated to family planning does not mention the words ‘contraception’ or ‘prevention’ even once in a 60-page funding announcement,” said Clare Coleman, president and CEO of National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Assn. “This administration has set aside the program’s core mission in favor of endorsing ‘no sex outside of marriage.’ …They are trying to push people toward abstinence or pressure women into marriage instead of helping them get quality health care.” What these groups don’t seem to realize (after eight years of rolling in taxpayer money) is that there’s no constitutional right to government funds. It’s completely up to Congress and the Administration (and, by proxy, voters) how these dollars are spent.

            Meanwhile, the courts shouldn’t be used like a magic genie that you can rub when your ideas don’t persuade voters. Liberals lost in 2016, and they’ll get another chance. But it’s time they stopped relying on activist judges to do what voters wouldn’t.