Life Advocacy Briefing

August 14, 2023

A Spot of Good News / Vital Victory for Pregnancy Care Centers
Another Victory in Court / A Unifying Issue If Ever There Was One!
Minnesota Joins the Competition / Playing Favorites / The Battle Persists in Texas
Round One in Ohio Goes to the Abortion Cartel / Sen. Tuberville Stands Strong

A Spot of Good News

A SUCCESSFUL PRO-LIFE LAWSUIT HAS PROMPTED Westchester County, New York, to repeal its “unconstitutional eight-foot ‘floating bubble zone’ around persons entering or leaving abortion facilities to ‘protect’ them from the ‘approaches’ of pro-life sidewalk counselors,” reports the Thomas More Society in a news release.

The lawsuit was brought by the pro-bono pro-life law firm on behalf of 40 Days for Life, a local vigil group, White Plains 40 Days for Life and two people who have been counseling customers outside the local abortuary.

“‘The bubble zone was unconstitutional the moment the board passed it,’ said Christopher Ferrara, TMS senior counsel,” quoted in the news release. “He noted that the Dobbs decision, reversing Roe v. Wade last year, expressly criticized Hill v. Colorado, a prior US Supreme Court decision that upheld a similar bubble zone.

“‘This is indeed a victory for free speech, and for pro-life advocacy,’ stated Ferrara. ‘We stand ready to put the final nail in its coffin with a petition to the US Supreme Court, if need be, so that it can never be reenacted.’”


Vital Victory for Pregnancy Care Centers

JUST A WEEK AFTER ILLINOIS GOV. J.B. PRITZKER SIGNED a new law targeting pregnancy care centers under the state’s Consumer Fraud & Deceptive Business Practices Act, a federal judge has blocked enforcement of the measure, saying, notes Leif LeMahieu for the Daily Wire, “that it violates the First Amendment.”

Said US District Judge Iain Johnston, quoted by Mr. LeMahieu, “‘The bill is painfully and blatantly a violation of the First Amendment.’”

The report goes on to quote former Illinois State Rep. Peter Breen, who is head of litigation for Thomas More Society, which brought the lawsuit: “‘Free Speech won today in the Land of Lincoln – pro-life advocates across Illinois can breathe a sigh of relief they won’t be pursued for “misinformation” by Attorney General Kwame Raoul.’”

Victorious plaintiffs included the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA) and the Pro-Life Action League, as well as various pregnancy care centers, according to Calvin Freiburger’s report in LifeSiteNews.

Summarized Mr. Breen, quoted by the Daily Wire: “‘Across the nation, pregnancy help ministries are being discriminated against by laws that target their life-affirming work. The injunction granted today sends a strong, clear message to the country that the First Amendment protects pro-life speech.’” Amen.


Another Victory in Court

A FEDERAL DISTRICT JUDGE IN TEXAS HAS DISMISSED A LAWSUIT, reports Bridget Sielicki for Live Action, challenging the state’s pro-life laws. The suit was brought by an outfit calling itself “The Satanic Temple” (TST) on behalf of an unnamed female plaintiff, “claiming that abortion was necessary so that [she] could perform her ‘abortion rituals.’

“The suit asserted that laws that restrict abortion infringe on the group’s right to freedom of religion,” reports Ms. Sielicki. “TST even went so far as to refer to abortion as a ‘sacrament.’”

The judge in the case is Charles Eskridge, appointed to the bench in 2019. In his opinion, he wrote, quoted by Ms. Sielicki, “‘[TST’s] broad and conclusory allegations are devoid of actual facts, at most offering “labels and conclusions and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. … Given the detail of the prior complaints and these substantial changes in the law, the deficiencies in the operative complaint are no doubt intentional.’

Arielle DelTurco, director at Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, told The Washington Stand,” writes Ms. Sielicki, “that she believes lawsuits like this one are nothing more than a publicity stunt. ‘The Satanic Temple considers it a victory when they can undermine sincerely held religious beliefs by pretending their legal complaints based on “religious freedom” are legitimate and deserve the same consideration given to religions like Christianity. … People know this is a stunt, and we shouldn’t get caught up in their game.’” Take note of who benefits and who is bringing the action.


A Unifying Issue If Ever There Was One!

ILLINOIS APPEARS TO BE COMPETING with other states – California, perhaps? – for the prize of biggest baby killer in America.

After systematically repealing all the incremental pro-life laws painstakingly enacted over the decades of Roe, the Illinois legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) have now provided $23 million in taxpayer funds, reports Hayden Black for Illinois Right to Life (IRL), for “promoting abortion.”

Included in that bundle is $10 million, notes IRL, “toward creating an abortion hotline dedicated to connecting callers with abortion clinics to schedule appointments and procedures.” Since when is that a function of government?

“Also included in the package,” reports Mr. Black, “is $8 million dedicated to ‘training’ abortion providers. … And the $23 million is rounded out with a $5 million grant for abortion providers. The grant supposedly comes [notably] from Illinois’ transportation budget and can be used for improvements to facilities and infrastructure.”

Illinois taxpayers need to challenge their lawmakers on this misuse of their tax dollars and to query every legislator and candidate on this bridge-too-far. The vast majority of taxpayers, we believe, would not endorse such abuses, and legislators must be held to account – before groveling politicians in other states look to compete with Illinois.


Minnesota Joins the Competition

MINNESOTA POLITICIANS HAVE FOUND a new path to demonstrate their abortion fanaticism. As of Aug. 1, reports Matt Lamb for LifeSiteNews, a new law “removed a requirement that abortion reporting forms include information on ‘whether the abortion resulted in a born-alive infant,’ ‘any medical actions taken to preserve the life of the born-alive infant,’ ‘whether the born-alive infant survived’ and ‘the status of the born-alive infant, should the infant survive.’

“The law also,” notes Mr. Lamb, “changes the ‘reasonable measures’ requirement to say that ‘medical personnel’ should provide ‘care for the infant who is born alive.’ There is no longer a requirement to ‘preserve the life and health of the born-alive infant.’” The intent is disturbingly evident.

The legislature and governor in Minnesota appear to be following the lead of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who, reports Mr. Lamb, “signed legislation in September, 2022, that could be interpreted to decriminalize infanticide, according to pro-life experts.”


Playing Favorites

NOT TO BE OUTDONE, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) last week “signed a new state budget,” reports S.A. McCarthy for The Washington Stand (TWS), “which includes terminating a contract with Real Alternatives, a nonprofit organization responsible for running the state’s Pregnancy & Parenting Support Services.”

The groundbreaking state program was initiated by pro-life Gov. Bob Casey (D) – the good Bob Casey – 27 years ago, notes TWS, “to provide alternative routes for pregnant women who felt pressured into abortion.”

To be certain Planned Parenthood and its competitors in the killing business get the point, Gov. Shapiro said, reports TWS, “‘For decades, taxpayer dollars have gone to fund Real Alternatives. My administration will not continue that pattern – we will ensure women in this Commonwealth receive the reproductive health care they deserve.’” Now what did Pennsylvania’s taxpayers do to deserve that?


The Battle Persists in Texas

THE TEXAS LAW BANNING ABORTIONS IS UNDER FIRE from a “leftist judge” in the Austin State District Court, reports Ashley Sadler for LifeSiteNews, but the state’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has moved quickly to block Judge Jessica Mangrum’s order opening the door to abortions in the state.

On Aug. 4, Judge Mangrum issued an order, writes Ms. Sadler, “carving out a temporary exemption to the state’s tough abortion ban in the case of a ‘complicated pregnancy.’” The injunction gives room for action to “abortionists who decide, using their ‘good faith judgment,’ to commit an abortion in a case of a ‘complicated pregnancy,’” reports Ms. Sadler, citing the Texas Tribune as source.

“Mangrum outlined those conditions as a pregnancy that presents a risk of infection; a fetal condition in which the fetus will not survive after birth; or when the pregnant person [sic] [!] has a condition that requires regular, invasive treatment,’ the outlet reported,” writes Ms. Sadler. “According to the Austin judge, in such situations physicians would be shielded from prosecution by the state attorney general.

“Within hours,” writes Ms. Sadler, “Texas’s attorney general’s office appealed the order to the state supreme court. … The quick action resulted in the immediate blocking of the exemption order while the Texas Supreme Court reviews the appeal, thereby upholding Texas’s pro-life protections.”

And what are those protections? LifeSiteNews gives us a quick review: “Texas law makes it a felony to commit an abortion except in cases where the mother is determined to have ‘a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places her at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function.’ Pro-life advocates,” notes Ms. Sadler, “point out that the deliberate killing of a preborn baby is never medically necessary.” No, it is not necessary, and it should – as in Texas – be a crime.


Round One in Ohio Goes to the Abortion Cartel

Aug. 9, 2023, The Washington Stand commentary by Ben Johnson

             Abortion activists claimed a pivotal victory in a swing state Tuesday night, as Ohio voters rejected a measure making it more difficult to add a constitutional “right” to abortion to the state constitution. With nearly all votes reported, 57% of Ohioans voted against Issue 1 in the August special election, according to unofficial results reported by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The issue would have required 60% of state voters to approve a proposed constitutional amendment in the initiative and referendum process, up from a simple majority adopted during the Progressive Era in 1912. It would also mandate that petitions for future amendments receive the signatures of at least 5% of voters who cast a ballot in the last gubernatorial election in all of Ohio’s 88 counties, rather than in half of those counties under present law.

             Such arcane details of constitutional governance rarely attract such controversy or money, but in Ohio the real issue was abortion. A coalition of abortionists and their lobbyists has placed a measure on the November ballot that would add a “right” to abortion and minors’ gender transitions to the state constitution. Its supporters say it would restore the status that long held under Roe v. Wade, but opponents say it would effectively allow [even] minors to obtain an abortion up to the moment of birth and confer a right for children to have transgender surgeries without parental consent or notification. That measure states, “Every individual” – rather than every adult – “has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive choices, including but not limited to … abortion.” If adopted, it would bring the complete Californication of Ohio,” Aaron Baer of the Columbus-based Center for Christian Virtue told Washington Watch on the eve of the election.

             “Sadly, attacks on national constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left,” said Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America (SBA) in a statement e-mailed to TWS. The group called the electoral defeat “a sad day for Ohio and a warning for pro-life states across the nation. Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state,” said SBA. “During this crucial election, progressives funneled in millions from outside groups to mislead the people of Ohio.”

             The official group opposing Issue 1 had a fundraising advantage of three to one and outspent pro-life forces 10 to one. The pro-life Protect Our Constitution raised $4.9 million through July 19, compared to $14.8 million for the “No” campaign’s One Person One Vote. … [According to an analysis from the Dayton Daily News], “A sizable chunk of the campaign’s money came from progressive dark money groups. Most notably, the campaign received $2.5 million from the DC-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, a liberal ‘dark money organization” administered by Arabella Advisors, as well as the Tides Foundation and American Advocacy Action Fund, Inc., the newspaper reported. Other donors include the National Education Assn., the Ohio Education Assn., and the ACLU’s national and state chapters. Some 84% of the total funds came from outside the state. The two major sectors of donations to One Person One Vote were Washington, DC, and California. …

             SBA List noted that, while “a broad coalition of passionate pro-life Ohioans came together to fight parental rights opponents and try to take victory from the jaws of defeat,” others “tragically” sat out the election “while outsider liberal groups poured millions into Ohio. The silence of the establishment and business community in Ohio left a vacuum too large to overcome,” the group said.


Sen. Tuberville Stands Strong

July 27, 2023, report by Daniel Payne, Catholic News Agency (CNA)

             “I hate to have to do this,” said Sen. Tommy Tuberville. “But they’re going to listen.”

             “They think I’m going to change my mind. I’m not changing my mind,” he said in an interview with CNA on Wednesday. “They’re going to be stuck with a lot of admirals and generals without promotions.” 

             The Alabama Republican has been holding up military promotions on the Senate floor since March of this year in protest of the Pentagon’s policy of paying for the travel costs of servicewomen who get abortions. Tuberville – a former head coach of Auburn University’s football team who continues to go by the sobriquet “Coach” – has referred to the Pentagon’s rule as a “radical plan to facilitate thousands of abortions a year with taxpayer dollars.”

             In February, the Department of Defense said that servicewomen and their families who live in states where abortion is illegal will be given 21 days of leave for abortions and be reimbursed for travel expenses to “access non-covered reproductive health care.” In response, at the outset of his protest in March, Tuberville vowed to “hold all Department of Defense civilian, flag and general officer nominations that come before the U.S. Senate.” 

             He has made good on that promise, throwing a wrench into what is normally a workaday part of Congressional proceedings. The blockade, for instance, has left the Marine Corps without an official commandant for the first time in approximately 150 years. 

             “We heard the military was going to change their abortion policy,” Tuberville told CNA. “We started asking for a briefing. It took three months to get that briefing. …

             “I sent a letter to [Defense] Secy. [Lloyd] Austin and said, ‘If you do this I’m going to put a hold on all your admirals and generals,’” Tuberville said. “We never heard from him. A few months later they started the new policy. And now six months later here we are. I don’t think they understood I would make this hold permanent,” Tuberville added.

             The senator said the holdup at present is less about abortion and more that the Pentagon chose to institute the policy outside of Congressional approval. The rule should go through the normal legislative process, he argued. “If it passes, or if it doesn’t, that makes no difference,” he said. “Let’s legislate in the House and the Senate.”

             The blockade has drawn the ire of Democratic Senators, eight of whom this week pleaded with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to “protect the readiness of our military” and use his authority to end Tuberville’s holdup. “As the leader of the Republican Conference, we count on you to hold your colleagues accountable when they recklessly cross boundaries and up-end Senatorial order,” the Senators said in a letter, calling Tuberville’s stalemate “reckless” and “dangerous.”

             Tuberville told CNA that if the holdup in promotions was having a negative effect on US military capability, he would be taking a different approach. “If I thought this would affect readiness, I wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “Readiness is not a problem.” He cited as an example Gen. Eric Smith, who, though he hasn’t been officially promoted, is currently performing the duties of the Marine Corps commandant in an acting role.

             All told, the protest has blocked what the Democratic senators in their letter said were “hundreds” of promotions. The Senator’s office pointed out that the holdup merely “forces the Senate to consider and vote on the nominations by regular order” instead of “approving them in batches by unanimous consent.” The nominations “can still be approved by the Senate,” but only if “the majority leader [makes] additional time for them to be considered on the floor.”

             “I can’t stop them doing it one at a time,” Tuberville told CNA. “They can send them over and vote on them. They just can’t do it in a group.” …

             The 1980s-era [sic] Hyde Amendment* has long forbidden the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to pay for most abortions. The Pentagon’s new policy thus exists in an uncertain gray area in which the government is paying for a service adjacent to abortion in order to facilitate abortion itself.

             Tuberville said the US is “not going to legislate from the Pentagon. And we’re not going to change the laws without a vote. What they do now is, they change the policy back and let’s vote on it,” he said. “They’re going to do it right. We’re going to go by the Constitution.” 

*Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: The Hyde Amendment was first adopted in 1976.