Life Advocacy Briefing

December 17, 2018

Breaking? / Planning for the 2019 Session / What Are They Thinking?
Sessions Successor Named / Facing Reality / Wait and See
Good News Out of Nashville / Who Benefits?


WITH CHRISTMAS SOON UPON US, our editorial team will likely at some point be taking a break while continuing to watch for news of significance. We hope our readers will understand if Life Advocacy Briefing does not appear on Christmas Eve and possibly even the week after. Looking forward to serving you in 2019, we wish you today a generous helping of blessing during the Christmas season. And we thank you for all you are doing for the cause of Life and for helping us close out our 25th year of publication; gifts to help us carry on into 2019, though not tax deductible, would be appreciated and can be directed to Life Advocacy, c/o Park Ridge Community Bank, P.O. Box 829, Park Ridge, Illinois 60068.

While praying for peace in this holy season, we pray also for justice. Amen.

Planning for the 2019 Session

LEADERSHIP IN THE SENATE HAS NOW RELEASED the upper chamber’s 2019 anticipated session schedule. The planned schedule for the upper chamber “generally lines up,” reports Roll Call, “with the schedule outlined across the Dome by the new House Democratic Majority,” on which we reported in last week’s Life Advocacy Briefing.

The Senate plans to return to Capitol Hill after the Christmas break for one day, Thursday, Jan. 3, when newly elected Senators will take their oaths of office, and then to resume on Tuesday, Jan. 8, “taking recess weeks,” notes Roll Call, “that generally coincide with holidays, including two weeks around Easter Sunday. …

“The Senate is scheduled to stay in [session] for one week longer than the House before departing for the August recess,” reports Roll Call, “but both chambers are scheduled to be out for the entire week of Labor Day,” though September is the last month of the fiscal year and spending measures are typically facing critical deadlines that month.

A charting of the respective and combined schedules, compiled by Roll Call, can be found on the Internet at

What Are They Thinking?

THE BIG NEWS OF THE WEEK was the refusal of the Supreme Court to dive into big news. Short by one vote of the required four on a motion to hear an appeal, the Court let stand for now rulings by federal appellate courts barring Kansas and Louisiana lawmakers from defunding Planned Parenthood. The vote was 6-to-3 to avoid hearing the question, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh siding with Justices Ruth Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

The avoidance action does not resolve the question and can be revisited at a future date. Legislators and governors in more than 10 states have taken action to disqualify the abortion goliath from Medicaid funding, and lawsuits are percolating in a variety of federal circuits.

But many in the pro-life community are expressing disappointment about the high court’s dodge and especially concern over the vote by the Court’s most recently confirmed Justice. At least equal attention ought to be paid, in our opinion, to the vote by the Chief Justice against the Supreme Court’s conservative wing.  

We publish an extensive commentary by Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins presenting some of the issues and implications. Readers can find it near the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing; it includes quotes from the clearly exasperated Justice Clarence Thomas, who penned what the Daily Wire termed “a fierce dissent.”

Americans United for Life (AUL), a leading pro-life non-profit staffed by attorneys, “expressed disappointment with Monday’s [non] ruling,” reports the Daily Wire. “‘AUL is disappointed that the Court declined to hear arguments in these cases, and we join the dissent in calling on the Court to ‘do its duty,”’ said AUL’s president and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster. “‘But the good news is that there are other similar cases pending in lower courts, which may give the Supreme Court another opportunity to decide this important issue. In the meantime,’” she said, quoted by the Daily Wire, “‘AUL will continue to fight to protect states from being forced to use their limited public funds to subsidize abortion businesses.’” And protect taxpayers and babies and moms in the process.

We counsel patience and prayer on the part of readers and persistence on the part of policymakers who are seeking to press for Planned Parenthood disqualification. It is a battle which has only just begun, and it is one which taxpayers and Life patriots must win.

Sessions Successor Named

PRES. DONALD TRUMP ANNOUNCED early this month his nomination of former Attorney General William Barr to come back to the post in which he served during the final year of the Administration of the late Pres. George H.W. Bush. He is also a veteran of the Reagan Administration, where he served 15 months in the White House as Deputy Assistant Director for Legal Policy. He served in high-level posts in the Justice Department during the entire four years of the Bush-41 Presidency.

Back in the day of his Bush-41 nomination as attorney general, according to the biography published by, Mr. “Barr’s two-day confirmation hearing was ‘unusually placid,’ and he received a good reception from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.” (Of course, that was then, in a kinder and gentler day.) 

“Asked whether he thought a constitutional right to privacy included the right to an abortion,” the Wikipedia biography continues, “[Mr.] Barr responded that he believed the Constitution was not originally intended to create a right to abortion; that Roe v. Wade was thus wrongly decided; and that abortion should be a ‘legitimate issue for state legislators.’” 

Using a quote from Gretchen Frazee of PBS, published Dec. 7, 2018, the Wikipedia write-up notes, “‘Barr also said at the hearings that Roe v. Wade was “the law of the land” and claimed he did not have “fixed or settled views” on abortion.’

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Joe Biden, though disagreeing with Barr,” reads the Wikipedia biography, citing a 1991 report by Richard Ostrow of the LosAngeles Times as source, “responded that it was the ‘first candid answer’ he had heard from a nominee on a question that witnesses would normally evade; Biden hailed Barr as ‘a throwback to the days when we actually had attorneys general that would talk to you.’ Barr was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee,” reports Wikipedia, was confirmed by voice vote by the full Senate and was sworn in as Attorney General on Nov. 26, 1991.”

Expect the present-era Senate Judiciary Committee, which is populated by several 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls, among others, to give Mr. Barr the same treatment accorded to many others of Pres. Trump’s key nominees. Pro-life citizens are well advised to watch this nomination closely and to begin contacting Judiciary Committee Senators as soon as the panel’s membership is finalized for the 116th Congress.

Facing Reality

AMONG THE TACTICAL POINTS we discuss with pro-life front-liners in developing strategy for Winning with Life (our communicator coaching program), we bring a message not heard from most paid campaign consultants: Assert your pro-life stand with the confidence it deserves! And among the settings we address in giving that advice is the oft-expected appearance before audiences brought together by liberal women’s groups.

Today we are reprinting a commentary written by an obstetrician/gynecologist, published by, which backs up the assertion we offer our well-intended but sometimes ill-equipped pro-life candidates: Why do so many people seem to think legalized abortion is some sort of benefit for women when those who benefit most are irresponsible men who get to “sow their wild oats” all over town without having to pay child support? That assertion, we believe, produces in any audience cognitive dissonance, a new way of thinking that can lead folks to look at the “abortion right” in an entirely different context.  

We commend the commentary by Steven Braatz to your careful attention. Readers will find it at the conclusion of this Life Advocacy Briefing.

Wait and See

Dec. 11, 2018, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            For a taxpayer-funded organization, Planned Parenthood has gotten away with a lot. So three years ago, when David Daleiden stumbled on the biggest scandal of the year – the group’s baby body parts ring – states thought they finally had the proof they needed to cut those Medicaid contracts. Eleven tried, only for some to end up in courts that couldn’t decide if they had that right. Yesterday, the Supreme Court had a chance to settle the issue. It passed.

            For pro-lifers, the news that the justices weren’t taking the case was a bit of a shock. After all, a majority of Americans don’t think abortion groups should get taxpayer dollars to begin with. Now, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh on the court, they can’t help but wonder: Shouldn’t SCOTUS have at least heard the case? And if Kavanaugh sided with the more liberal members of the court this time, should we be worried about how he’ll vote in the future?

            A lot of legal experts, FRC’s included, are trying to cut through the noise of the media and explain what all of this means for the future of the Planned Parenthood funding debate. Based on the social media reaction, some conservatives are so upset that they’re ready to join the Left’s “Impeach Kavanaugh” campaign. Is it concerning that he agreed to let the lower court rulings stand? Potentially. But as FRC’s vice president for policy, Travis Weber, points out, we don’t know the whole story.

            What we should be concerned about is that SCOTUS’s non-decision leaves America in limbo on a fundamental question: How much leeway do states have in ending Medicaid contracts? They’ve needed clarity on the issue for years – and unfortunately, the Supreme Court is the only one who can provide it. But it’s important to remember, FRC’s director of religious freedom advocacy Alexandra McPhee explains, the main question before the Court wasn’t whether states ought to have that freedom but whether there was a private right to bring a lawsuit in the first place. Pro-lifers had hoped that the Justices would have used the case to strike at the heart of the issue – but the Court has to be asked to decide that, and they weren’t, here.

            In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas seems as frustrated as the rest of us that the Court turned down the chance to speak more directly into both issues. Together with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, he argues that the question “is important and recurring. Around 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and the question presented directly affects their rights,” he writes. Because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different states – even patients with the same providers – have different rights to challenge their state’s provider decisions.”

            One of the most important functions of the Court, he explains, is to resolve “important matter[s]” on which the Courts of Appeals are “in conflict.” “We created this confusion,” Thomas insists. “We should clear it up.” So why didn’t they? Thomas thinks “it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named ‘Planned Parenthood.’” But that, he goes on, “makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion … . [The cases] are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the states’ decisions.”

            Besides, he urges, “Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background. … We are responsible for the confusion among the lower courts, and it is our job to fix it.” Fortunately, there may be another opportunity to do exactly that. As Alexandra reminds us, a preliminary injunction isn’t final. So while the abortion industry may be celebrating, this is by no means a vindication of Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding. The Justices have plenty of reasons (none of which we may ever know) for denying certiorari. In Maryland v. Balt. Radio Show, Inc., the Supreme Court offered some possibilities. “A case may raise an important question, but the record may be cloudy. It may be desirable to have different aspects of an issue further illumined by the lower courts.” Or maybe the six Justices were waiting for a final ruling in the 4th Circuit before weighing in. Whatever the rationale, the Court’s decision not to hear the case has nothing to do with how they would decide it.

            As for Justice Kavanaugh, this is one decision in a very young Supreme Court career. He’s reserved judgment here, and until we see more of his work, we should, too.

Good News Out of Nashville

Dec. 12, 2018, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            The city of Nashville knows how to live, and thanks to the latest news, it knows how to let live. As most Americans will tell you, there is plenty to love about Music City. But after last week, the best thing might just be the fact that there isn’t a single abortion clinic around.

            After years of being the state’s largest, the deadly side of Nashville Planned Parenthood closed on Friday when it couldn’t find a doctor willing to work there. Maybe the group’s shady reputation is catching up with it. Or maybe there just aren’t enough abortionists to fill the job, but either way, it’s a development worth celebrating!

            According to WVLT News, Planned Parenthood’s local spokeswoman, Tereva Parham, said the group hasn’t given up on finding someone, but for now, their waiting rooms will stay empty.

            That’s a major blow to the culture of death in Tennessee, where just six abortion businesses remain. The seventh, also in Nashville, closed earlier this year. Together, Life News points out, they accounted for 20% of the state’s abortions – a whopping 1,927 in 2016 alone.

            Micaiah Bilger had a chance to talk to Tennessee Right to Life president Brian Harris, who says that his group’s phones have been ringing off the hook from women looking for abortion referrals. That alone, he points out, has given them more opportunities than ever to encourage moms to visit their local pregnancy care centers. His staff, he told Bilger, is “busier than they’ve ever been.” That’s great news for future Tennesseans, who will have a better chance at life without a Planned Parenthood on every corner.

Who Benefits?

Dec. 12, 2018, commentary by Dr. Steven Braatz, reprinted from

            When California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill requiring the abortion pill to be offered in public university health clinics this last September, State Sen. Connie Leyva, who introduced the bill, said, “It’s extremely important to women’s health, it’s extremely important to woman’s choice, and for him – a man – to decide what women can do with their bodies was just very disappointing.” Sen. Leyva plans to reintroduce the bill when Gov. Newsom takes office, according to an article in the Daily Californian.

            Sen. Leyva, I’m concerned about a different sort of man who will be delighted by the reintroduction of this bill. The man I’m thinking of will be very pleased to see your bill signed by Gov. Newsom. The man I’m thinking about is the one who uses women.

            We all know the kind of man I’m describing, the man who just uses women for sex and escapes the consequences. On behalf of men everywhere, I apologize, we’re not all like that, I assure you. But sadly, some men, conditioned by pornography and a culture that hyper-sexualizes our youth, do use women and won’t be responsible for caring for her, her pregnancy or her child.

            I know this is true because I’m an Ob/Gyn. I hear women’s stories.

            Commenting on a prior abortion, women almost always express remorse and often add something about why they had that abortion. The boyfriend who pressures, threatens to leave or make her move out seems to have powerful leverage with a young woman’s decision-making. Getting her to take a pill is easier than getting her to have a surgical abortion. With Sen. Leyva’s help, she won’t even have to go to an abortion clinic. He will just walk her across campus, and together they’ll ask for that pill. They’ll say, “Whew, that was a close one, but it’s all over now.” As they’re about to leave the clinic, he’ll ask, “How soon afterwards can we have sex?”

            Abortion kills human beings, but here in California, many of our legislators don’t seem to consider that. Nor do they seem concerned with the consequences of abortion. Women have died after taking the “extremely safe” abortion pill. Given their no-holds-barred ambition for easy abortion access at any cost, I can only hope they come to their senses in realizing that the only ones the abortion pill helps are the ones who benefit the most from abortion: men who use women.