Life Advocacy Briefing

September 3, 2018

Let the Confirmation Begin! / Sen. McCain, RIP
United Way Chapters Boosting Planned Parenthood
Exposed Again / The Bottom Line
Slippery Slope / At What Cost?

Let the Confirmation Begin!

SENATE JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN CHARLES GRASSLEY (R) HAS SCHEDULED official hearings beginning tomorrow (Sept. 4) on the nomination of US District Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the office of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Judge Kavanaugh’s name was submitted to the President by the conservative Federalist Society, and he is widely seen as a “strict constructionist” and “originalist” in approaching Constitutional questions.

Though he is unlikely to commit, in Senate hearings, to rule in any given way on matters that will come before the Court, his background and reputation – and the President’s pledge to nominate only Justices he was confident are “pro-life” – give pro-life citizens much encouragement.

We urge readers of Life Advocacy Briefing to contact their two home-state Senators early and often – beginning tomorrow, when Senate staff will be available to take your call – and urge a “yes” vote on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh. (Capitol switchboard, 1-202/224-3121)

And we encourage readers to watch the hearings, which we anticipate will be telecast widely once Judge Kavanaugh is invited to speak. (These sessions usually open with Senators expressing their own opinions.)

We offer our thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Chairman Grassley for their determination to move quickly to Senate consideration of this landmark appointment.

Sen. McCain, RIP

THROUGHOUT HIS SENATE CAREER, Sen. John McCain proved several things, among them: One can be a maverick in his party and still vote consistently to curb the abortion cartel. For that, we thank him.

The late Senator’s passing on Aug. 25 creates a vacancy in the Senate, but not for long. Though holding back until after his burial yesterday (Sept. 2), Gov. Doug Ducey (R-AZ) has the authority to appoint a temporary successor, who will serve until voters choose their next Senator for the seat in November, 2020. Arizona law ensures that the conservative governor will indeed name a successor of the same party.

Gov. Ducey will without doubt make the appointment in time for the Senate’s vote on confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the Supreme Court.

United Way Chapters Boosting Planned Parenthood

LOCAL UNITED WAY CHAPTERS “DONATED NEARLY $2.8 MILLION to Planned Parenthood affiliates in 2016,” reports Calvin Freiburger for, “funding an estimated 2,901 abortions, according to a new report from a conservative charity watchdog” called 2ndVote.

The chapters are located in 29 states, and their Planned Parenthood giving, according to 2ndVote, and reported by Mr. Freiburger, “went up by $166,000 from 2015 to 2016. … ‘Interestingly, four of the top five states in which abortion-funding United Way chapters are located are “battleground” election states – Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida,’ the [2ndVote] report says,” writes Mr. Freiburger.

“‘This important research highlights just how irresponsible some corporations are,’ 2ndVote said of its latest findings,” reports LifeSiteNews. “‘Donating to Planned Parenthood-supporting United Way chapters should make those chapters anathema to responsible corporate funders. Yet they slide on by.’”

The 2ndVote report and other 2ndVote analyses of corporate giving can be found on the group’s Internet website at

Exposed Again

A NEW SERIES OF VIDEOS is being released, starting last Wednesday, which “expos[es] the grim reality of abortion from a unique perspective: firsthand accounts from the truck drivers responsible for picking up babies’ remains from abortion facilities,” reports Calvin Freiburger for The source of the three videos is an Ohio-based pro-life group called Created Equal.

The first video released, writes Mr. Freiburger, “presents audio from a former Stericycle driver who took fetal remains from an unspecified abortion center ‘at least twice a week’ from October 2016 to June 2017. Stericycle is a medical waste disposal company,” notes Mr. Freiburger, “that helped dispose of fetal remains for Planned Parenthood and claimed in 2017 to have stopped accepting any aborted babies.”

But Created Equal “alleges,” reports Mr. Freiburger, “that Stericycle continues to collect dead babies from abortionists despite their public denials.”

In the first video, reports LifeSiteNews, “the driver explains how the staff would send someone to meet him at a nearby gas station when pro-life protesters were in front of the building. ‘I didn’t feel good myself doing it, because it’s wide open in the public,’ he says. The video shows nondescript plastic bins, cans and cardboard boxes being loaded into the back of a truck.

“The man explains” in the video, reports Mr. Freiburger, “that between disliking ‘a lot of things they was doing’ and the fact that his employer ‘wasn’t honest with me from the beginning,’ he was eventually driven to quit his job. That was apparently a common experience,” writes Mr. Freiburger, “because he estimates he was ‘about the seventh guy in two years’ who did the same. ‘Every time I rolled by that place,’” the ex-driver said in the video, as reported by LifeSiteNews, “‘I got a chill on the inside, so I just, I didn’t want to deal with them no more.’”

The video also “shows the freezer of a standard refrigerator,” writes Mr. Freiburger, “filled with objects in red and blue plastic bags. On one shelf, the ‘waste’ is sitting right next to a Minute Maid juice container. ‘And it smells, so what’s frozen in blood, and you can see it, and it makes you want to puke?’” asks this driver in the video reported by LifeSiteNews. “At this point,” writes Mr. Freiburger, “the screen transitions to bloody, close-up images of aborted babies’ hands, legs, faces and more. ‘And you turn your head,’” says the driver in the video, “‘because you don’t want to see her stick it in the box and take it up.’”

The former Stericycle driver adds in the video, reports Mr. Freiburger, “that aborted babies marked for incineration are sent to a ‘big oven they had up in their facility’ to be disposed of, a part of the process he ‘dreaded.’”

The Bottom Line

Excerpts from Pres. Donald Trump’s address to evangelical leaders at the White House Aug. 27, quoted by Gary Bauer in his Aug. 28, 2018, End-of-Day Memo

            We’re here this evening to celebrate America’s heritage of faith, family and freedom. As you know, in recent years, the government tried to undermine religious freedom. But the attacks on communities of faith are over. … Unlike some before us, we are protecting your religious liberty.

            In the last 18 months alone, we have stopped the Johnson Amendment* from interfering with your First Amendment rights. … We’ve taken action to defend the religious conscience of doctors, nurses, teachers, students, preachers, faith groups and religious employers. …    

            [We] reinstated the Mexico City Policy [President Reagan] first put into place. … We proposed regulations to prevent Title Ten taxpayer funding from subsidizing abortion. I was the first President to stand in the Rose Garden to address the March for Life. …

            Every day we’re standing for religious believers, because we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. And we know that freedom is a gift from our Creator. … Together, we will uplift our nation in prayer, defend the sanctity of life and forever proudly remain one nation under God.

[* The Johnson Amendment was enacted in 1954 as a provision in the US tax code; it prohibited all 501/c/3 non-profit organizations – including churches – from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It has often been cited by pastors as limiting their participation in politics and even their commenting on matters of public policy.]

Slippery Slope

Aug. 29, 2018, BreakPoint commentary by Eric Metaxas & Roberto Rivera

            The latest issue of Vanity Fair has an article on what may be the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption: cloning your dead pets, specifically dogs.

            Most Americans were unaware such a thing was possible, never mind commonplace, until Barbra Streisand mentioned in passing during an interview with Variety magazine that her two current dogs were clones of her dog Samantha, who died last year. As Streisand later explained in the New York Times, “every time I look at [the faces of Samantha’s clones], I think of my Samantha … and smile.”

            Streisand isn’t the only person who has cloned her dead pet. When the Vanity Fair article calls dog cloning “very big” and “very controversial,” it’s correct on both counts.

            Take, for instance, the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Seoul, South Korea. In the last ten years, Sooam has produced more than 1,000 clones of deceased dogs.

            As you may have guessed, dog cloning is very expensive. The cost runs from about $50,000 to $100,000 per birth and the clientele mostly reflects it: superstar divas, “Middle Eastern royalty” and the “billionaire founder of Phoenix University,” to name but a few.

            Sooam’s founder is Hwang Woo-Suk. In 2004, he claimed to have successfully cloned a human embryo. His claim was later shown to be a “spectacular hoax,” and he was sentenced to two years in prison. He escaped actually serving time, because the judge ruled that he “has truly repented for his crime.”

            Perhaps he had. What’s clear is that Hwang hasn’t lost any enthusiasm for cloning. While he insists that “here in Sooam we are steadfastly against human cloning,” he insists that “animal-cloning ethics and human-cloning ethics have completely different values.” He adds that “animal cloning can bring us benefits and help us contribute socially.”

            Many ethicists disagree. They cite the “pain and suffering” involved in producing a single canine clone, such as potentially dangerous hormone treatments and genetic abnormalities. This exceeds the suffering in natural reproduction.

            Then there’s the elephant in the room: human cloning. Earlier this year, scientists in China announced that they had “created two cloned monkeys,” using the same technique used to create “Dolly the sheep” two decades ago.

            The head researcher at Sooam told Vanity Fair that “these monkeys are very close to us genetically … which means you should be able to clone a human.”

            The head of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital told the Times, “We are closer to humans than we’ve ever been before. … That raises questions of where we would want to go.”

            Assuming the technical obstacles can be overcome, the answer should be obvious: If people are willing to pay 50- to 100-thousand dollars to assuage their pain over losing a pet, imagine what they would be willing to pay when we’re talking about family members and loved ones.

            As Vanity Fair put it, “If distraught parents think a clone would resemble 85% of their child’s appearance and personality … it’s only a matter of time until pressure will inexorably mount to give it a shot. If there’s enough demand, the market will do its best to respond.”

            And that’s the “best-case scenario.” The worst-case scenario is something akin to Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, where clones are created to provide their “owners” with spare body parts.

            If this sounds like science fiction to you, so did cloning your pets until recently.

At What Cost?

Aug. 27, 2018, BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera

            Life today on social media includes the phrase “went viral.” The rapid sharing of images, videos and phrases can spread ideas that shape our cultural imaginations in a way similar to how illnesses, such as the flu, can spread from one person to another with terrifying speed.         And like a disease, even a seemingly innocent image that goes “viral” can be harmful.

            A very recent example is a picture of a baby wrapped in a rainbow-colored blanket surrounded by 1,616 hypodermic needles arranged in the shape of a heart. The photo was shared on social media by the child’s same-sex parents, Patricia and Kimberly O’Neill. The image, the couple said, “represent(ed) [their] journey,” which included “4 years, 7 [IVF] attempts, 3 miscarriages and 1,616 shots.”

            The photo was uploaded to Facebook on Aug. 10 and in just 10 days received 84,000 “likes” and 63,000 “shares.”

            Of course, the most common response to the picture was “aww!” and a heart-shaped emoticon. But all the likes in the world cannot dispel the incredibly important ethical questions that are raised by the story behind the photo, ethical dilemmas we’ve not even fully acknowledged in our cultural moment, much less settled.

            The first dilemma has to do with in-vitro fertilization itself. As we’ve said repeatedly on BreakPoint in recent months, there are significant moral questions raised by artificial reproductive technologies such as IVF. For example, the destruction of human life that is, in most cases at least, part of the process; the fate of nearly one million frozen “excess” embryos; the moral consequences of separating reproduction from sex. To pretend that IVF and other reproductive technologies are morally neutral is to ignore obvious realities.

            By arranging the needles in the shape of a heart, the photographer – conscious or not – obscured just how messy and morally fraught the IVF process really is. If the needles had been arranged in their “natural” state, just lying around on a cold medical table or discarded in a medical waste bin – the message would have more accurately reflected the confused reality we live in.

            Not only are the ethical questions created by the technology buried by this picture, so are the culture-wide assumptions that animate our current technologies. I often talk about how marriage, sex and babies are a “package” deal as created by God and recognized throughout human history until just recently. The main idea of the sexual revolution has been to divorce sex, marriage and babies.

            As cute and eternally valuable as the baby in the picture is, the image represents a final stage of that divorce. What started as the divorce of sex from marriage by untethering sex from babies has led to the separation of babies from marriage and now, through our technologies, the divorce of babies from sex.

            Of course, same-sex unions are inherently infertile. And yet, in many cases it is same-sex couples driving the demand for the technologies that bypass sex in the process of creating life. Unintentional infertility is tragic. Demanding children after choosing an intentionally infertile relationship is hubris and fundamentally redefines our understanding children as a gift, not a consumer product.

            Think about it: The redefinition of sex gave us the redefinition of marriage, which is now leading to the redefinition of children.

            Now, I know that pointing out problems with this cute photograph will sound grumpy and heartless. So let me be clear: I’m sure the couple loves their new daughter very much. The problem isn’t the baby; the problem is the ideas that made the story that led to this picture.