Life Advocacy Briefing

January 9, 2023

On the Agenda / ‘Hyde’ Still in Effect
F.D.A. Moving to Shelter Plan B from Abortion Bans
Pushing Pills / Ya Can’t Make This Up / Inevitable Fallout
Life Implications in the Omnibus

On the Agenda

BACK BEFORE THE G.O.P. MAJORITY STUBBED ITS MASSIVE TOE in the opening of the 118th Congress, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who served as assistant minority leader in the previous Congress, announced a pro-life agenda for the House to consider in its first two weeks of session.

At this writing, we cannot be certain when the House will get past the Speaker election, but we can briefly outline the announced agenda so our readers can buckle seat belts and even offer input to Members-elect of Congress. Ben Johnson reports in The Washington Stand that Mr. Scalise plans for Congress to “vote on 11 ‘commonsense measures’ focused on protecting babies born alive during botched abortions, protecting taxpayers from funding abortion-on-demand, commending pregnancy resource centers, beefing up border security, protecting US energy resources and taking a tougher stance against the People’s Republic of China.”

The pro-life measures on Rep. Scalise’s list, according to Mr. Johnson: The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion & Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act and a resolution, notes Mr. Johnson, “condemning the recent attacks on pro-life facilities, groups and churches.”

We expect to publish more details as the legislative process develops. Happy new year!


‘Hyde’ Still in Effect

MUCH HAS BEEN REPORTED about the 4,115-page omnibus spending law which Congress passed just before Christmas and which has now been signed by the President. We have been concerned chiefly with the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in every Health & Human Services appropriation law since the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) first advanced it on Sept. 30, 1976.

“Hyde” bars the use of taxpayer funds to pay abortionists under Medicaid. According to a Member of Congress we contacted, “Hyde was preserved in the Omnibus.” Thank God for that! Democrats in Congress and the White House have been aiming to eliminate it, but other objectives – such as a massive increase in the deficit – took precedent in the last days of the 117th Congress.

That does not mean, with Pres. Biden and his team still in office for the next two years, that the Hyde Amendment is safe from further attack. In fact, notes Calvin Freiburger in a report for LifeSiteNews, “Last September, the Biden Justice Dept. declared that the Hyde Amendment … is ‘best read to prohibit only direct expenses for the procedure itself and not indirect expenses, such as those for transportation to and from the medical facility where the procedure is performed.’”

This despite the fact that “Hyde” has from its inception served to protect taxpayers from becoming complicit in abortion, and anything that abets abortion fosters – and in this case forces – complicity.

Mr. Freiburger has outlined pro-life concerns with other sections of the massive spending bill, and we reprint much of his report at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing. We have seen much coverage of the omnibus in various media sources, but until the LifeSiteNews report, we have not seen such careful attention to the Life-centered implications. We thank Mr. Freiburger for his attention to detail and commend the report to your attention, below.


F.D.A. Moving to Shelter Plan B from Abortion Bans

THE FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION (F.D.A.) ANNOUNCED Dec. 23 that it is amending its prescribed labeling of the Plan B emergency contraception pill, reports Calvin Freiburger for LifeSiteNews, “to ‘clarify’ that it is not an abortifacient, despite evidence that the drug can function by killing already conceived embryos. …

“In fact, however,” asserts Mr. Freiburger, “Plan B does have an abortifacient capacity, and whether it prevents fertilization or implantation depends on when it is taken relative to a woman’s cycle. Pro-lifers,” he notes, “have long accused abortion activists of denying this based not on science but expediency.”

The report goes on to cite concerns from Dr. Donna Harrison of the American Assn. of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, who, according to LifeSiteNews. quoted “numerous studies. … If the [Plan B] pill is taken during the ‘two-day window in which embryos can form but positive pregnancy tests don’t occur,’ studies indicate it ‘has a likely embryocidal effect in stopping pregnancy.’”

Mr. Freiburger speculates that the FDA move “may have been intended to provide legal cover for excluding Plan B” from abortion bans being enacted in various states in the wake of the Dobbs decision.

In another report, published by The Washington Stand, Ben Johnson notes, “A coalition of pro-life advocates, including [Family Research Council’s Tony] Perkins, called on Congress to ‘stop the FDA’s reckless, ideologically motivated policies’ by passing the Save the Moms & Babies Act, which would require an in-person examination of mothers seeking to obtain abortion-inducing pills, compel healthcare practitioners to report all adverse effects of mifepristone, prohibit abortionists from distributing the drug through the mail and prevent the FDA from approving new abortion-inducing pills.” A start.


Pushing Pills

TWO NATIONAL DRUG RETAIL CHAINS – CVS and Walgreens – have “confirmed,” writes Ben Johnson for The Washington Stand, “that they plan to stock” mifepristone (RU-486) now that the Biden Regime has issued a rule “allowing most pharmacies to dispense the abortion-inducing pill.”

Mr. Johnson reports “pro-life advocates say” the plan is “a move that will put more women’s lives in danger and ‘transform pharmacies from centers of healing into centers of death.’”

As a refresher, “mifepristone [is] the first of two pills used in a chemical or medication abortion,” writes Mr. Johnson, “which the woman administers alone, often on the toilet [and] which deprives the unborn child of nutrition by preventing the release of progesterone, thinning the lining of the uterus. The second pill, misoprostol, induces contractions to expel the deceased child’s body from the womb.”

Mr. Johnson next notes the reports of negative side effects. “Even with incomplete data,” he writes, “the FDA has registered thousands of negative side effects of chemical abortion, including dozens of [maternal] deaths. A study of 42,000 abortions found that women suffered four times as many adverse side effects from this two-step regimen than surgical abortion. One in five abortions induced by mifepristone resulted in negative health outcomes, the study found.”

But those disturbing indications did not deter the Biden Regime from changing “the legal regulations,” notes Mr. Johnson, “to allow retail pharmacies that become certified to distribute the pill through the first 10 weeks of gestation. … The protocols also require pharmacies to keep the name of the abortionist who prescribed the pill a secret even from other branches of that pharmacy, according to the [New York] Times.”

While CVS and Walgreens work through the process of getting their personnel trained and securing certification to dispense this baby poison, these pharmacy giants would do well to bring their lawyers up to speed in light of immeasurable liability. Meanwhile, pro-life customers might wish to find a more independent pharmacy. And pro-life pharmacists at the two chains might soon be looking for employment elsewhere.


Ya Can’t Make This Up

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU’d SEEN IT ALL, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed into law on Dec. 31 a law making New York the sixth state in the nation to legalize “human ‘composting,’” reports Joseph Summers for LifeSiteNews.

The report quotes the measure’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D), stating the new law was “‘needed’ as ‘New Yorkers grow more environmentally conscious’ and begin ‘seeking an alternative to cremation which uses fossil fuels and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, or traditional burials which use up open land and contribute to soil and groundwater pollution.’”

The sponsors of this frontier-crossing venture into further disrespect for human life “introduced the legislation,” reports Mr. Summers, citing the Epoch Times as source, “in an effort to meet a policy goal of eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.”

The report quotes Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York Catholic Conference, in an interview with the Associated Press. “‘Human bodies are not household waste,’” he pointed out, “‘and we do not believe that the process meets the standard of reverent treatment of our earthly remains.’

“Last year, Poust sent a letter to Hochul, a self-professed Catholic,” writes Mr. Summers, “detailing his criticisms of the measure, saying, ‘throughout history and in every culture, the disposition of human remains has been treated with care and following particular rituals, always involving interment or cremation. Given this fact, it is inappropriate to suddenly introduce a completely different method, with no input from the public, religious communities or anyone else outside of the state capitol,’ he continued,” reports Mr. Summers.


Inevitable Fallout

Jan. 3, 2023, LifeSiteNews report by Stephen Kokx

             Pro-lifers are rejecting Donald Trump’s claim that the GOP experienced disappointing results during the 2022 mid-term elections because candidates “poorly handled” the “abortion issue.”

             “It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the mid-terms,” the former President stated on Truth Social this past Sunday. “I was 233-20! It was the ‘abortion issue,’ poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters. …

             “Also,” Trump continued, “the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the US Supreme Court and just plain disappeared, not to be seen again. … “

             The former President’s remarks have been received by the political right with near-universal disapproval, with many commentators believing that the swipe at his most loyal supporters could be the most significant political error of his career.

             “No candidate who wants to give up on the abortion issue will be the Republican nominee in 2024, especially one who blames pro-lifers for being a drag on the party,” columnist Ben Domenech wrote for The Spectator.

             “Whoever is now advising Pres. Trump to the contrary on Life issues should be fired immediately,” said Roger Severino, the vice president of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation.

             Pro-life activists also voiced strong opposition to Trump’s comments. Hitherto, many pro-lifers called Trump “the most pro-life President in US history,” thanks primarily to his Supreme Court nominees overturning Roe v. Wade and his participation in the March for Life.

             “Trump is way out of line here on Life,” Live Action founder Lila Rose tweeted. “The fault of midterm losses has zero to do with the pro-life cause and more to do with poor election strategies that the Republican Party has been employing for years.”

             The DC-based Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which had a close relationship with the Trump White House, echoed Rose’s perspective. Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence re-tweeted the group’s statement. “The approach to winning on abortion in federal races, proven for a decade is this: state clearly the ambitious consensus pro-life position and contrast that with the extreme view of Democrat opponents,” SBA Pro-Life America wrote. “We look forward to hearing that position fully articulated by Mr. Trump and all Presidential candidates.”

             John Gibbs, endorsed by Trump in his race for the 3rd Congressional House seat in the state of Michigan, voiced disagreement with the former President on social media, though never mentioning Trump directly.

             Meanwhile, former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis defended her former boss, tweeting that Trump is simply trying to get to the bottom of what really happened during the mid-terms.

             … Others pointed to the large disparity in ad spending by pro-abortion groups versus those who held anti-abortion views to support Trump’s claim that pro-lifers “just plain disappeared.”*

             While debates about who is “to blame” for the Republicans’ sub-par showing during the mid-terms will likely continue well into the 2024 GOP primary season, exit polls have repeatedly shown that Democrats were effective at leveraging abortion as a tool to turn out younger voters to the polls this past November.

             According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, voters under the age of 30 ranked abortion as their number-one motivating issue. “Four in five youth who believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases voted for a Democratic candidate to the House of Representatives,” the group discovered. Statistics like these may have compelled Trump to argue in December that abortion was a “trap” issue for Republicans, and that pro-lifers running on a no-exceptions platform might not be “capable of being elected … in certain areas.” …

*Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: Historically, though Pres. Trump may not have observed this, the abortion cartel has consistently outspent the pro-Life movement in political contests and in many other aspects of the battle; we disagree with him that GOP underperformance is a failing of the pro-Life movement or a failure of commitment on the part of pro-Life donors, who are inevitably outspent by the abortion profiteers. We do believe that pro-life candidates are ill-served by professional political consultants, who generally neither know nor care how to prepare a pro-life candidate for effective communication to voters in a campaign setting. We disagree with the former President that the solution lies in compromising fundamental principles involved with the right to Life versus the abortion enterprise.


Life Implications in the Omnibus

Jan. 4, 2023, LifeSiteNews report by Calvin Freiburger

             The $1.7 trillion, 4,115-page omnibus package that was signed into law late last month with the help of establishment Republicans over the objections of conservatives contains several causes of concern for the pro-life cause that went largely overlooked at the time, analysis reveals.

             … The omnibus contains $286 million for the Title X family planning program, which in turn will fund abortion giant Planned Parenthood, thanks to Pres. Joe Biden having rescinded the Trump-era rule excluding the abortion industry from the funds.

             But further review of the legislation’s text reveals additional causes for concern. Chief among those is the so-called Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which in the past has been proposed as a stand-alone bill. Ostensibly meant to require businesses to “make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations related to the pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions of a qualified employee,” the PWFA could be interpreted as imposing abortion mandates, pro-life analysts have warned.

             “Under the bill … pro-life groups can be sued if they don’t provide their employees special leave to get abortions,” Catholic Vote director of government affairs Tom McClusky says. “I’m surprised some pro-life groups that aren’t covered under the RFRA [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] don’t seem to realize how this [law] would impact their own operations.”

             Catholic Vote’s Erika Ahern adds that the meaning of “discrimination” under the PWFA would be at the mercy of the pro-abortion Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: “The EEOC does not typically act in a way that aligns with pro-life or Catholic views. In general, the EEOC has interpreted ‘pregnancy-related’ discrimination issues to include protecting workers’ ‘right’ to abortion.”

             The version in the omnibus was added by Republican US Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana with language clarifying that it does not require employers to pay for “any particular item, procedure or treatment” and clarifying that Title VII’s existing protections for religious employers applied to it, but some pro-life organizations expressed concern as to the strength of the language, prompting Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma to offer an amendment with stronger religious exemption language, but it failed 53-44.

             Also concerning is the so-called PREVENT Pandemics Act, introduced by Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina ostensibly to improve research and monitoring of infectious diseases as well as emergency response coordination and management of outbreaks.

             It creates two federal grants, a $175 million one “for the conduct of evidence-based or evidence-informed projects” and a $250 million one “to promote positive healthy behaviors and outcomes for populations in medically underserved communities” by supporting community health efforts, both of which lack language clearly disqualifying abortion providers, which is particularly alarming given the Biden Administration’s fixation on interpreting abortion “access” as a basic health need.

             All of the above is even more vulnerable to pro-abortion exploitation in light of the fact that last September the Biden Justice Dept. declared that the Hyde Amendment, the long-standing yearly language that prevents most federal funds from going directly to elective abortion procedures, is “best read to prohibit only direct expenses for the procedure itself and not indirect expenses … .”