Life Advocacy Briefing

December 16, 2019

What’s Coming / Back Flip / Senate Does It Again
Standing Up for Their Backers / Implosion
Fairness for All? Ha! / Senate Voting Records

What’s Coming

NEXT WEEK, we at Life Advocacy Briefing expect to publish our annual US House & Senate Voting Record Index, compiling votes cast by each Member on roll calls we have published during the year. Hoping readers will find it of interest and use, we expect the Index to fill the entire edition next week, closing out our 26th year of publication of timely news you can use in the cause of Life.


Back Flip

A SMALL GROUP OF REPUBLICANS HAVE INTRODUCED a measure by which they may hope to persuade radical feminists and homosexual activists to pick on someone else in next year’s election. That is the only motive we can draw from introduction of the so-called “Fairness for All Act,” HR-5331, “to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity,” with the incongruous caboose (following a semi-colon in the bill’s title): “and to protect the free exercise of religion.” Those two objectives are incompatible when one examines the claims of radical feminists and homosexual activists as to what constitutes “discrimination” on their proclivities.

The bill is also incompatible with values which the Republican Party generally – and House Republicans as candidates – seem to advocate when they appeal to voters. And it is particularly ill-timed, while the Trump Administration’s regulatory efforts to protect the consciences of pro-life medical personnel are under court challenge by the social Left.

Though we cannot forecast the bill’s future, we do think readers of our publication and others who cherish the religiously-based exercise of conscience ought to pay attention to the names of the bill’s sponsors. Those who live in their districts – and even others – might wish to contact these nine via the Capitol switchboard at 1-202/224-3121. They might even welcome the invitation to remove their names or at least welcome a phone message on some matter other than the Pelosi/Schiff circus.

Chief sponsor: Utah GOP Rep. Chris Stewart, joined by his Utah GOP colleagues, Representatives Rob Bishop and John Curtis, as well as Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Michael Simpson (ID), Fred Upton (MI), Elise Stefanik (NY), Mark Amodei (NV) and David Joyce (OH).

Proposing what is in essence the anti-family, anti-Life, long defunct Equal Rights Amendment – even by mere statute – is not a good way to claim advocacy of fairness in America’s laws.

We hope readers who take note of the Life-related voting records in next week’s Life Advocacy Briefing will take note, as well, of what we see as a lurch to the Left exhibited by these nine lawmakers in proposing HR-5331.

We publish near the closing of this Life Advocacy Briefing a commentary by John Stonestreet of BreakPoint, analyzing some of the problems with the legislation, problems beyond what we have here touched on. We should note: conservative alert memos we have seen on this bill are not mentioning abortion, but the abortion connection to non-discrimination on the basis of sex has been established by judicial rulings in states such as New Mexico, whose state courts have forced taxpayer-funded abortion based on the state’s own “equal rights amendment” outlawing discrimination on the basis of sex.

For now – and possibly forever, given the unwillingness of House Democrats to advance GOP-sponsored legislation – the bill has been referred to the Committees on Judiciary, Education & Labor, Ways & Means, Financial Services, Oversight & Reform and House Administration.


Senate Does It Again

TWO MORE CONSERVATIVE ATTORNEYS HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED for seats on the notoriously Leftish 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. One of them, Lawrence VanDyke, was vigorously opposed by the abortion lobby and its fellow travelers in the Senate.

The first objection raised by the left-wing Alliance for Justice in its letter to Senators was his record on abortion. In that letter, AfJ complained, “As Solicitor General in Montana and Nevada, [Mr. VanDyke] repeatedly attacked the rights of women [sic]. He submitted an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban, a position in direct conflict,” AfJ charged, “with Supreme Court precedent; in his brief, he asked the Supreme Court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.” How shocking! The letter complained further about his challenge to ObamaCare’s contraception coverage and his involvement in legal filings opposing the legality of buffer zones, which bar pro-life sidewalk counselors from approaching abortuaries and their customers.

We publish at the conclusion of this Life Advocacy Briefing the Senate roll calls on cloture (closing debate to bring the VanDyke nomination to a vote) and on confirming him to the bench.


Standing Up for Their Backers

U.S. REP. LOIS FRANKEL (D-FL) HAS FILED A RESOLUTION, pending in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which seeks to undercut the US delegation to the United Nations, reports Elyssa Koren in the Daily Signal, by “recognizing the Nairobi Summit” hosted by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) “and reaffirming the United States’ commitment to ‘sexual and reproductive health and rights,’ meaning abortion rights.”

The US had sent a delegation to Nairobi, notes Ms. Koren, “with the express purpose of rejecting the summit’s outcome. Ten other countries,” she reports, “joined the US in delivering a joint statement of rejection.” Many others refused to participate in the conference, which was, she writes, “a faux UN conference, designed to create the artificial perception of consensus on abortion rights where none exists,” and “an attempt to leverage the UN name despite a lack of consensus. It conveniently lacked participation from the full UN body of membership,” writes Ms. Koren, “allowing abortion advocates to push through a radical agenda without having to win support from countries that oppose it.” This is the stage show which Rep. Frankel and her colleagues are endorsing and celebrating in their resolution as a direct affront to official US policy.

HRes 688 is co-sponsored by 51 House Democrats: Rep. Frankel and Representatives Raul Grijalva/AZ; Judy Chu, Jim Costa, Susan Davis, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Grace Napolitano, Scott Peters, Adam Schiff, Jackie Speier, Norma Torres/CA; Diana DeGette/CO; Rosa DeLauro/CT; Lisa Blunt-Rochester/DE; Kathy Castor, Theodore Deutch, Alcee Hastings/FL; Hank Johnson/GA; Janice Schakowsky/IL; Andre Carson/IN; Anthony Brown, Jamie Raskin/MD; William Keating, Joseph Kennedy, James McGovern/MA; Brenda Lawrence, Andy Levin & Rashida Tlaib/MI; Betty McCollum/MN; Emanuel Cleaver/MO; Dina Titus/NV; Ann Kuster, Chris Pappas/NH; Bonnie Watson-Coleman/NJ; Debra Haaland/NM; Eliot Engel, Adriano Espaillat, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Grace Meng/NY; Earl Blumenauer/OR; Susan Wild/PA; David Cicilline/RI; Steve Cohen/TN; Peter Welch/VT; Gerald Connolly/VA; Pramila Jayapal & Adam Smith/WA; Gwen Moore/WI. Also DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, whom the House Majority unconstitutionally call a “Representative.”



Dec. 3, 2019, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

            Judging by the 2020 debates, the Democratic Party is all-in on abortion. And not just any abortion but taxpayer-funded, expanded and exported killing right past the moment of birth. On stage they’re the picture of lock-step radicalism. But behind the curtain, the New York Times warns, there’s a lot more disagreement than anyone’s letting on.

            There’s the extremist wing of the party – the national Democrats, full of bravado and cheerleading and “shout your abortion” from the rooftops. But they’re only part of the story. The other, the Times points out, is a deeply conflicted base who has serious misgivings about gambling another election on a hard-core abortion strategy.

            For the first time in years, liberals are on the defensive about abortion – and at odds with how to handle it. “It’s really, really complicated,” Rutgers professor Joanna Schoen said, “and somewhat controversial where the pro-choice movement lost.” But the basic consensus is this, the Times argues: “The Democratic Party rejected the message that drove its politics since Pres. Bill Clinton’s administration – that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’ – and embraced abortion rights with few stipulations.”

            There’s just one problem. The majority of Americans – including their own grass roots – disagree. “Pro-choice” Democrats think abortion should be legal, sure. But only in certain cases. Like most Americans, they certainly don’t side with the field of 2020 abortion zealots, who – with one exception – think infanticide is a “reproductive right.” The eight percent who do must either be in Congress or running for President.

            Meanwhile, inside the abortion movement, there’s at least some recognition of the overreach. Some supporters told the Times that they “worry that establishing abortion rights as a Democratic litmus test is too inflexible for Americans conflicted over abortion. They fear that it could hurt the party in rural areas and the more moderate, suburban districts that may hold the key to regaining the White House, and where many of the remaining vulnerable abortion clinics are.”

            Considering the Iowa district where Democrat J.D. Scholten is running, they’re right. About 60% of the voters there consider themselves “pro-life.” “Where I’m from, we have a pretty big tent,” he said. “We can’t be writing off people.”

            None of these messages seem to be getting through to national headquarters, where Democrats are doubling down on radical abortion “to shore up a progressive base, boxing in moderate candidates in red states and leaving little room for [the views of average Americans].” But then, misreading the political landscape is nothing new for the Left. When the abortion rate dropped to its lowest level since Roe v. Wade, researchers at the liberal Guttmacher Institute insisted it had nothing to do with the recent wave of pro-life legislation. That’s an interesting conclusion, since 40% of the country’s pro-life laws were passed in the last 10 years.

            In every state but New York, CNSNews’s Terry Jeffrey found, abortions dropped an average 24% over the same decade. The reality is simple: “Pro-lifers are winning the argument in the culture,” he insisted on [FRC’s podcast] Washington Watch. “The Democratic candidates are not. …

            “Another tell-tale sign,” Terry [Jeffrey] argues, “is what happened in the 2016 Presidential elections.” Why did Trump win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin? Because a lot of voters in those areas, regardless of party, are socially conservative. “They like where Donald Trump was on immigration. They like his foreign policy. They like his views on trade. But they were pro-life. … Now a smart Democratic strategist looking at that would know that if the Democrats nominate a knee-jerk, ideological, 100% pro-abortion candidate to run against Trump in 2020, they’re going to have a hard time winning those swing states … . Politically, the pro-abortion position is a disaster for Democrats.”

            And morally? Well, it’s a disaster for everyone. Forty-five years and 60 million lives should have taught us all that.


Fairness for All? Ha!

Dec. 9, 2019, BreakPoint commentary by John Stonestreet

            On Friday, Republican Rep. Chris Stewart of Utah introduced the Fairness for All Act, which, as Christianity Today reports, “would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and places of public accommodation, including retail stores, banks and healthcare service providers.”

            In essence, just like the proposed Equality Act supported by House Democrats, the Fairness for All Act would place sexual orientation and gender identity on par with race and religion as protected classes under the Civil Rights Act.

            But there’s a major difference between Fairness for All and the Equality Act. The Fairness for All Act seeks to exempt religious organizations such as churches and nonprofits. So, for example, “Churches wouldn’t be required to host same-sex weddings. Christian schools wouldn’t have to hire LGBT people. Adoption agencies could receive federal funding even if they turned away same-sex couples looking to receive children.” As such, Rep. Stewart and supporters of the Fairness for All Act see the bill as balancing religious freedom and LGBT rights.

            Now I believe Fairness for All is a well-intentioned bill. And I believe that its supporters are truly trying to find ways to compromise with LGBT rights in order to preserve our religious liberties in the end. But this Act is the wrong piece of legislation at the wrong time.

            The Act would enshrine into law something that simply is not true, and for Christians that’s got to be a non-starter: that sexual orientation and gender identity are equal to race, that they are somehow immutable, something someone is born with. As my colleague Shane Morris discussed with me on BreakPoint This Week, the “born with” idea is a useful fiction created by the early proponents of the gay-rights movement to win public approval for their cause. They succeeded, of course, but it does not make the fiction any more true.

            Second, the Act is addressing a non-issue. Back in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act addressed a very real problem: There were entire swaths of the country where African Americans couldn’t find a hotel room, buy gas or get a meal. And so public accommodations were necessary so African Americans could fully participate in society. That most certainly is not the case today with the so-called “sexual minorities.” When two men targeted cakeshop owner Jack Phillips to force him to design a cake for their same-sex wedding, they knew full well that there were plenty of cakeshops nearby that would gladly do what they asked.

            This raises another problem with the Fairness for All Act: Its exemptions “would not apply to for-profit businesses with 14 or fewer employees.” In other words, if you’re a Christian business owner and not a church or a religious non-profit, you’re on the wrong side of the law – outside of the Act’s protections. Meaning Fairness for All isn’t really fairness for all.

            And as I explained on BreakPoint This Week, this act continues the ghastly idea that people of faith who insist on religious liberty are the bad guys. That they are bigots who need to be “exempted” precisely because they want to deny the rights of others.

            The Fairness for All has its roots in what’s called the Utah Compromise, which was a state measure largely championed by the LDS church. It hasn’t worked in Utah, and it’s not a good idea for federal legislation. In fact, these ideas were birthed under a previous Presidential administration openly hostile to religious liberty – and when it looked like the next administration would be as well.

            But elections matter. Federal courts and the Supreme Court are growing more conservative and more respectful of religious liberty. Now is simply not the time to give up the rights of individual believers in order to preserve the freedoms of religious institutions alone.

            Now, do I think the Fairness for All Act will pass? No. Nor does Rep. Stewart. The Democrats hold the House and see no compromise at all on LGBT rights and religious rights. And while there may be a way to truly balance these rights in the future, the Fairness for All Act isn’t it.


Senate Voting Records

Cloture motion on Nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – Dec. 10, 2019 – Adopted 53-40 (Democrats in italics; “Independent” marked with “I”)

Voting “yes”/pro-Life: Shelby/AL, Murkowski & Sullivan/AK, McSally/AZ, Boozman & Cotton/AR, Gardner/CO, Rubio & Scott/FL, Isakson & Perdue/GA, Crapo & Risch/ID, Braun & Young/IN, Ernst & Grassley/IA, Moran & Roberts/KS, McConnell & Paul/KY, Cassidy & Kennedy/LA, Collins/ME, Hyde-Smith & Wicker/MS, Blunt & Hawley/MO, Daines/MT, Fischer & Sasse/NE, Burr & Tillis/NC, Cramer & Hoeven/ND, Portman/OH, Inhofe & Lankford/OK, Toomey/PA, Graham & Scott/SC, Rounds & Thune/SD, Alexander & Blackburn/TN, Cornyn & Cruz/TX, Lee & Romney/UT, Capito/WV, Johnson/WI, Barrasso & Enzi/WY.

Voting “no”/anti-Life: Jones/AL, Sinema/AZ, Feinstein/CA, Blumenthal & Murphy/CT, Carper & Coons/DE, Hirono & Schatz/HI, Duckworth & Durbin/IL, King(I)/ME, Cardin & VanHollen/MD, Markey/MA, Peters & Stabenow/MI, Smith/MN, Tester/MT, Cortez-Masto & Rosen/NV, Hassan & Shaheen/NH, Menendez/NJ, Heinrich & Udall/NM, Gillibrand & Schumer/NY, Brown/OH, Merkley & Wyden/OR, Casey/PA, Reed & Whitehouse/RI, Leahy/VT, Kaine/VA, Cantwell & Murray/WA, Manchin/WV, Baldwin/WI.

Not voting: Harris/CA, Bennet/CO, Warren/MA, Klobuchar/MN, Booker/NJ, Sanders/VT, Warner/VA.

Nomination of Lawrence VanDyke to 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – Dec. 11, 2019 – Confirmed 51-44 (Democrats in italics; “Independent” marked with “I”)

Voting “yes”/pro-Life: Shelby/AL, Murkowski & Sullivan/AK, McSally/AZ, Boozman & Cotton/AR, Gardner/CO, Rubio & Scott/FL, Isakson & Perdue/GA, Crapo & Risch/ID, Braun & Young/IN, Ernst & Grassley/IA, Moran & Roberts/KS, McConnell/KY, Cassidy & Kennedy/LA, Hyde-Smith & Wicker/MS, Blunt & Hawley/MO, Daines/MT, Fischer & Sasse/NE, Burr & Tillis/NC, Cramer & Hoeven/ND, Portman/OH, Inhofe & Lankford/OK, Toomey/PA, Graham & Scott/SC, Rounds & Thune/SD, Alexander & Blackburn/TN, Cornyn & Cruz/TX, Lee & Romney/UT, Capito/WV, Johnson/WI, Barrasso & Enzi/WY.

Voting “no”/anti-Life: Jones/AL, Sinema/AZ, Feinstein & Harris/CA, Blumenthal & Murphy/CT, Carper & Coons/DE, Hirono & Schatz/HI, Duckworth & Durbin/IL, Collins & King(I)/ME, Cardin & VanHollen/MD, Markey/MA, Peters & Stabenow/MI, Klobuchar & Smith/MN, Tester/MT, Cortez-Masto & Rosen/NV, Hassan & Shaheen/NH, Menendez/NJ, Heinrich & Udall/NM, Gillibrand & Schumer/NY, Brown/OH, Merkley & Wyden/OR, Casey/PA, Reed & Whitehouse/RI, Leahy/VT, Kaine & Warner/VA, Cantwell & Murray/WA, Manchin/WV, Baldwin/WI.

Not voting: Bennet/CO, Paul/KY, Warren/MA, Booker/NJ, Sanders/VT.