Life Advocacy Briefing

May 24, 2021

Roe on Thin Ice at Last? / Clock Running on 10-Day Law Reform in Texas
Blocking Abortion Via Civil Action? / Stateside
Pro-Life Men’s March Planned for DC / Breakthrough?
Life or Death in the Balance in Texas / Fighting Back?

Roe on Thin Ice at Last?

THE U.S. SUPREME COURT AGREED LAST WEEK to take an appeal of lower-court rulings invalidating Mississippi’s law banning the abortion killing of developing babies who have gestated at least 15 weeks.

Mississippi enacted the law challenging Roe v. Wade in 2019, and it was promptly enjoined from enforcement by US District Judge Carlton Reeves, an Obama appointee. His ruling, notes writer Calvin Freiburger, was “filled with pro-abortion talking points rather than legal arguments. Nevertheless,” he reports, “the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with [Judge] Reeves, prompting appeal to the nation’s highest court.”

The Supreme Court has total discretion as to whether to consider an appeal. The Court’s agreement to take up Mississippi’s appeal in the case offers hope for significant limitations on the wild-westness of Roe v. Wade and hope even for its long-overdue overturning. We publish a Family Research Council commentary on this development near the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing.


Clock Running on 10-Day Law Reform in Texas

A PROPOSAL TO CHANGE THE UNJUST TEXAS LAW which empowers healthcare facilities to end treatment for vulnerable patients has emerged from the state’s House Public Health Committee for consideration by the full House.

Based on a report in National Right to Life News, written by Kim Schwartz of Texas Right to Life – and based on harrowing cases we have seen over the years – we are hopeful that the legislature in Texas will at last end the bewildering power which the state’s laws give to hospital panels over the wishes of patient advocates, who are typically the parents of vulnerable children.

The offensive law is called “The 10-Day Law,” which, as we understand it, gives relatives just 10 days to find a facility which will take on extraordinary care for a child fighting for life.

Time is running out for consideration of the bill. We reprint Ms. Schwartz’s legislation alert at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing, joining her in urging Texans to put 10-Day Law reform at the top of the last-week agenda for the Legislature. It is past time to remove this blot from the pro-life reputation of Texas and to put parents in charge of their vulnerable children’s health care.


Blocking Abortion Via Civil Action?

TEXAS HAS ENACTED A HEARTBEAT ABORTION LAW with a twist. The Texas Heartbeat Act, signed last Wednesday by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), “requires abortionists to screen for a preborn baby’s heartbeat,” explains writer Calvin Freiburger, “and prohibits abortion if a heartbeat can be heard (generally as early as six weeks), with exceptions only for medical emergencies.”

Here is the twist: The new law bars not only the state but also local political subdivisions – including county district attorneys – from prosecuting violators. Rather, notes Mr. Freiburger, “it ‘exclusively’ empowers private citizens to bring civil suits against the abortionists, punishable by a minimum of $10,000 in statutory relief per abortion plus whatever additional injunctive relief is deemed ‘sufficient to prevent the defendant from violating this chapter or engaging in acts that aid or abet violations of this chapter.’

“‘It’s a very unique law, and it’s a very clever law,’ South Texas College of Law Houston professor Josh Blackman told the Texas Tribune,” reports Mr. Freiburger. “‘Planned Parenthood can’t go to court and sue Atty. General [Ken] Paxton like they usually would because he has no role in enforcing the statute. They have to basically sit and wait to be sued.’”

What is more, the law does not require that a private citizen has “any connection to anyone involved in a specific abortion,” reports LSN. “‘Every citizen is now a private attorney general,’ [Prof.] Blackman said. ‘You can have random people who are against abortion start suing tomorrow.’”

We agree with Mr. Freiburger’s comment: “Whether this new strategy will prevail remains to be seen.” He adds, “But such experimentation with legal strategies has been provoked by national judicial precedent that forbids states from directly banning abortion. … States typically enact [criminal abortion bans] in hopes of provoking a legal battle that would hopefully reach the nation’s highest court and instigate a review of Roe v. Wade, thereby potentially overturning decades of pro-abortion legal precedent and freeing the states to set their own abortion laws.”

That legal strategy continues alongside the Texas experiment. It remains to be seen what the judiciary will do with such a unique approach as was signed last week by Gov. Abbott.



  • MONTANA GOV. GREG GIANFORTE (R) HAS SIGNED legislation barring the spending of state tax dollars on abortion outfits under the state’s participation in the Title X (Ten) “family planning” program. “HB-620 will reroute the money once given to abortion organizations,” writes Nancy Flanders, reporting for Live Action, “to healthcare entities such as Federally Qualified Health Centers and rural health clinics that do not participate in abortion.” The bill, notes Ms. Flanders, “had passed the Montana House in March in a unanimous vote. It then passed the Montana Senate in a 30-to-20 vote, with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it.”

  • STATE LAWMAKERS IN ALASKA have advanced a state budget for 2021-2022, notes Amanda Vicinanzo for Live Action, “that includes an amendment that defunds state-funded abortion services.” The amendment, according to the Anchorage Daily News, cited as source by Ms. Vicinanzo, “was the center of substantial debate among lawmakers … . In the end, the amendment passed 21-18 and will now advance to the Alaska Senate.” The fiscal reform is proposed at the same time some Alaska lawmakers are seeking to advance a ban on abortion, reports Live Action, “from the moment of fertilization.” Planned Parenthood operates four shops in the state, “all of which,” writes Ms. Vicinanzo, “would stand to lose funding with this proposed budget cut.”


Pro-Life Men’s March Planned for DC

A CATHOLIC PRIEST AND A CATHOLIC RADIO HOST ARE ORGANIZING “the ‘first-ever National Men’s March to defend the least of these and call for the end of the government-sanctioned daily mass murder of abortion,” reports Kenton Biffert for The date set for the event is Saturday, June 12, just a week before Father’s Day.

Fr. Stephen Imbarrato told LifeSiteNews: “‘All men are called to spiritual fatherhood; not all [are] called to become priests but to be “fatherly”. …’ They are called ‘to be protectors of women, to be protectors of children, to be mentors, to be wise men.’”

The march will end at the White House after gathering at 11 a.m. for prayer at the Washington Surgi-Clinic, some five to seven blocks away, at 2112 F St. NW near George Washington University; the “clinic” is actually a late-term abortuary.

“‘We want to draw attention that we are not going to tolerate the daily mass murder – government protected, government sanctioned, government funded – of pre-born children,’” emphasized [Fr.] Imbarrato,” quoted by Mr. Biffert, who noted men marching on June 12 are asked to wear suits, “and priests are to wear clerics.”



May 17, 2021, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

             Americans could use some good news right about now – and this morning, the Supreme Court gave it to them. After 29 years, the Justices just took a case that every pro-lifer has been waiting for: A direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. For the first time since 1992, the highest court in the land has a chance to deal a death blow to the precedent that’s tied this country in judicial knots – and robbed us of 62 million unique, irreplaceable lives. That could all change by this time next year when the Supreme Court has what some legal scholars are calling “the best opportunity they’ll ever have to overturn Roe.”

             For years, cases have been bubbling to the surface from the states – all of them designed to do what Mississippi’s law just did: Force the Supreme Court to reconsider the country’s abortion standards. A lot of people – Family Research Council experts included – think the mere fact that the Justices took the case is a victory. It means, most likely, that the Court’s newest Members are ready to make a major change in the law. “This is groundbreaking,” FRC’s Katherine Beck Johnson agreed. The fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear “the first gestational limit on abortion since Roe” is a significant shift. “With Justice Amy Coney Barrett now on the Court, we look forward to the unborn being protected,” she said.

             And that’s exactly what groups like Planned Parenthood are afraid of. The organization’s action arm, led by Alexis McGill, was disgusted by the announcement, warning that almost 50 years of radical precedent is on the line. Pro-lifers, she said sullenly, have obviously been waiting for this day, since it’s “the opportunity for the newly compromised Supreme Court to take away our right to abortion.”

             Mississippi’s law, which went through the wringer on appeal, would limit abortion to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy unless there’s a serious abnormality with the baby. That’s two months earlier than the 24-week limit set by Planned Parenthood v. Casey in the early ’90s. But times and technology, Mississippi argues, have changed. In her brief to the high court, state Attorney General Lynn Fitch (R) calls it an “inflexible viability standard [that] eviscerates the states’ ability to account for advances in medical and scientific technology that have greatly expanded our knowledge of pre-natal life … .” She pointed to the new science on fetal pain and stimuli, explaining that babies can now feel pain much earlier than researchers thought. “Mississippi attempted to introduce these advances below. But the district court disregarded them,” she argued.

             In fact, Judge Carlton Reeves didn’t just disregard them; he chastised Mississippi for trying to bait the new Justices into taking their case. “The state chose to pass a law it knew was unconstitutional to endorse a decades-long campaign, fueled by national interest groups, to ask the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade,” he wrote. “This court follows the commands of the Supreme Court and the dictates of the United States Constitution, rather than the disingenuous calculations of the Mississippi Legislature.”

             Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James Ho was much more sympathetic but agreed that he was bound by what the Supreme Court had decided all those years ago. Still, he didn’t mind reminding the Justices in his reluctant (but separate) concurrence that “Nothing in the text or original understanding of the Constitution establishes a right to an abortion. Rather, what distinguishes abortion from other matters of healthcare policy in America – and uniquely removes abortion policy from the democratic process established by our Founders – is Supreme Court precedent.”

             Now is the time to change that, National Review Online’s Ed Whelan says. “Laws like Mississippi’s have broad public support. According to an NPR/PBS NewsHour Marist Poll from last year, only 29% of Americans think that abortion should generally be allowed after the first three months of pregnancy (13 or so weeks). That broad public support is likely to grow when Americans learn that – according to this Center for Reproductive Rights database – France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway, Switzerland and lots of other European countries have a gestational limit of 14 weeks or earlier.” This case, he points out, will finally give Pres. Trump’s three Justices a chance to send the issue back where it belongs – to state legislatures. “Indeed,” he wrote in November, “it is unlikely that there will ever be a more opportune moment.”

             For some Justices, like Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, this day has been a long time coming. “Our abortion precedents are grievously wrong and should be overruled,” Thomas insisted as recently as last year. FRC’s Mary Szoch agrees. “Roe and Casey were obviously wrongly and arbitrarily decided … . Now, with this direct challenge to Roe and Casey, the Court has a chance to correct their errors and send the ‘right’ to abortion back to the states. We must pray ardently that the Justices have the courage to stand against the pressure from the Left and uphold the Constitution. Ultimately, we must pray that hearts and minds everywhere change and that the review of Mississippi’s abortion ban is the beginning of total protection of the unborn child in the womb.”


Life or Death in the Balance in Texas

April 29, 2021, Legislation Alert by Kim Schwartz of Texas Right to Life, reprinted from NRL News

             Today the Texas House Public Health Committee passed the Respecting Texas Patients’ Right to Life Act (HB-2609 by Rep. Tan Parker). The committee had heard moving testimony in support of HB-2609 on April 14 from bioethics experts and families victimized by current law, one of whom was Mike Woelfel. 

             Mr. Woelfel shared how the 10-Day Rule was invoked to abuse and end the life of his young son. He explained that the “torturous, callous and immoral nature of the 10-Day Law” allows families to be pushed aside and told they have no say in the care and treatment of their loved ones.

             Hannah Mehta, president of Protect TX Fragile Kids, shared the testimony of a South Texas family whose daughter was given 10 days to live when she was five weeks old. The 10-Day Rule forced the family to fight desperately for the life of their daughter. The family was berated and told they were making their daughter suffer needlessly and that they would “watch her die a horrible death.” The 10-Day Rule would have ended her life. Now their daughter is seven years old and lives a “wonderful, full life.”

             Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo and president of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, also testified in support of HB-2609.  Mr. Schindler stated that the 10-Day Rule incentivizes the healthcare system to impose death on vulnerable patients. As Mr. Schindler pointed out, “no other state has laws as egregious as Texas laws, which violate the patient’s constitutional Right to Life and right to due process.”

             Tell lawmakers to pass the Pro-Life Priority Bills!

             Prior to passing HB-2609, the Texas House committee also passed a bill Monday to protect pro-life doctors from being forced to participate in life-ending procedures (HR-1424 by Rep. Tom Oliverson, MD).

             This marks the unprecedented accomplishment of having every pro-life priority of a session pass out of a House committee. Texas Right-to-Life legislative associate Rebecca Parma responded to today’s vote: “Texas Right to Life applauds the representatives who voted in favor of ending the 10-Day Rule and Chairwoman Stephanie Klick for her leadership. We also thank Rep. Parker for authoring and shepherding this life-saving bill out of committee.”

             The next step is for the House Committee on Calendars to schedule the Pro-Life Priority Bills on the House floor for a vote by the full body. Texans must urge their State Representatives to ask House leadership to schedule these bills for a vote quickly as 33 days remain in the session.

[Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: We recognize the urgency during this last week of the legislature’s session in Texas. Please join us in praying, and we urge Texas readers to call their lawmakers now.]


Fighting Back?

May 19, 2021, Washington Update commentary by Family Research Council president Tony Perkins

             Near the top of Pres. Biden’s priority list is funding abortion with your tax dollars. The Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) is working overtime to repeal the Title X [Ten] rule enacted under the Trump administration, which prevents federal family planning funds from going to abortion facilities. The rule cost Planned Parenthood $60 million.

             Pres. Biden has also increased the Title X funding in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, which means there will be even more money available to subsidize abortion businesses. This is why elections matter; it’s not just about whether someone sends mean tweets.

             But Americans are speaking out. As part of the rulemaking process federal agencies must follow, proposed rules must be available for public comment, and the agency must address those comments before rules can be finalized. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s proposed rule, “Ensuring Access to Equitable, Affordable, Client-Centered, Quality Family Planning Services,” has been open for public comment, and Family Research Council’s grassroots activists – that’s you – submitted nearly 10,000 comments that have been filed with HHS. There’s a long list of problems in the proposed rule, which FRC’s own comment points out. Among them, it would invite abortion businesses back into the program and drive out faith-based organizations, loosen rules on abortion lobbying and illegally allow federal tax dollars to fund abortions.

             There’s still time to submit a comment [via]