Life Advocacy Briefing

October 30, 2023

Back to Work / Quick Takes / Welcome, Speaker Johnson! / Auspicious Beginning

Back to Work

THE U.S. HOUSE HAS RESOLVED the crisis which has paralyzed the Congress since Oct. 3, when a team of renegade Republicans invoked a rule permitting a sole Member to move to topple the elected Speaker and giving that motion precedence.  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has served as the chief officer of the House since last January, was voted out, and the Speaker’s office has been vacant throughout this month. As a result, no business could be transacted until his successor was chosen.

The new Speaker of the House, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), is, in our estimation, a principled conservative who has long championed the right to Life, along with other positions foundational to American government. His pro-life record is a major focus of Politico’s report on his election, which we reprint below.

His inaugural speech, which he delivered last Tuesday soon after securing the needed majority of votes in an oral roll call, was principled and, in our view, inspiring. Though his reference to the right to Life was a subtle one (which we have boldfaced), we are publishing today our transcript of his address, expecting it will inspire hope in our readers. 

We ask our readers to join us in patience and in prayer as the House reopens for critical business.


Quick Takes

  • CALIFORNIA GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D) has appointed Laphonsa Butler to the balance of the term of recently deceased Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Butler is best known as president of Emily’s List, a major fundraising political operation specializing in pro-abortion candidates. Her appointment expires in January, 2025, the close of the late Senator’s sixth six-year term.

  • US DISTRICT JUDGE DANIEL DOMENICO last week enjoined a Colorado law barring use of abortion pill reversal treatment to counteract RU-486 in the early hours of a chemical abortion. Bella Health & Wellness is plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging the vicious anti-baby law signed last April by Gov Jared Polis (D). The law was scheduled to take effect in October. The matter remains in court for further determinations but cannot be enforced in the meantime.

  • NEW YORK MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D) announced early this month that the city will now provide chemical abortions via telehealth, with no in-person consultation required. The deadly chemicals will be mailed to NYC addresses from the city’s Health & Hospitals system, reports Matt Lamb for LifeSiteNews.

  • THE PRO-LIFE GROUP CREATED EQUAL is focusing a YouTube ad on the reality, pain and extremism of late-term abortions in seeking to defeat the radical, pro-abortion Ohio constitutional amendment proposal, on which early voters are currently casting ballots and election-day voters will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 7.


Welcome, Speaker Johnson!

Oct. 25, 2023, ‘Abortion’ & ‘Transgender Care’ segments of Politico story about election of Speaker Johnson


Access to abortion helped define the lackluster House takeover Republicans mounted last year, and Democrats are already seizing on the new speaker’s anti-abortion record.

Johnson once served as a former senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom – the conservative legal powerhouse behind the case that overturned Roe v. Wade – which is now spearheading efforts to restrict abortion pills nationwide. In that role, he worked to shut down abortion clinics and defend anti-abortion laws in his home state of Louisiana.

Johnson co-sponsored federal legislation that would have prohibited abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill has exceptions for physical illnesses that endanger the life of the pregnant person [!] but not psychological or emotional ones. Hours before he officially won the gavel Wednesday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries [D-NY] told CNN that Johnson is “an extreme right-wing ideologue” who “wants to criminalize abortion care and impose a nationwide ban.” [How very collegial!]

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, which has been working to highlight the contrast between the parties on the issue, also jumped in. “Mike Johnson is currently the co-sponsor of at least three bills that would ban abortion nationwide,” the campaign posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Wednesday morning.

House Judiciary Democrats also put up a string of posts attacking Johnson, who sits* on the committee, for his anti-abortion stance. In one, they shared a clip in which he argued at a hearing earlier this year that banning abortion would help shore up Medicare and Social Security by funneling more “able-bodied workers into the economy.”

Transgender Care

The new speaker opposes gender-affirming care for children and led a hearing about the topic in a House Judiciary subcommittee, which he chairs*.

“The so-called ‘gender-affirming care’ is anything but affirming and caring,” he said in opening remarks for the hearing. “This is adults deciding to permanently alter the bodies of children who do not have the capacity to make life-altering decisions on their own.”

Major medical associations, including the American Medical Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics, support gender-affirming care for adolescents. But medical experts say gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transitioning and hormone replacement therapy.

*Life Advocacy Briefing editor’s note: Of necessity, Speaker Johnson resigned from the Judiciary Committee after his inauguration as Speaker on Oct. 25.


Auspicious Beginning

Speaker Mike Johnson’s inaugural speech, Oct. 25, 2023, transcribed by Life Advocacy Briefing from the official recording of C-Span

(Speaker Johnson begins by thanking Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries – who had introduced him, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the House staff, his wife Kelly, his children, the families of his colleagues, his mother and siblings and extended family, and the people of Louisiana.)

             To my colleagues, I want to thank you all for the trust that you have instilled in me to lead us in this historic and unprecedented moment that we’re in. The challenge before us is great, but the time for action is now, and I will not let you down. (Applause)

             I want to say to the American people – on behalf of all of us here – we hear you. We know the challenges you’re facing. We know that there’s a lot going on in our country, domestically and abroad, and we are ready to get to work again to solve those problems, and we will. Our mission here is to serve you well, to restore the people’s faith in this House, in this great and essential institution.

             My dad – it was mentioned my dad was a firefighter. He was an assistant chief of the fire department in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, a little town in northwest Louisiana. On September 17, 1984, when I was 12 years old, he was critically burned and permanently disabled in the line of duty. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was the chief of the fire department in Shreveport. But after the explosion on that fateful day – he nearly died and it was a long road back, and it changed all of our life trajectories. I’m the oldest of four kids. And my dad, he lived with pain all the rest of his life, for decades more. And I lost my dad to cancer three days before I got elected to Congress, three days. And he wanted to be there at my election night so badly. I am the first college graduate in my family; this was a big deal to him.

             And so, it was several weeks after that, it was early 2017, it was my freshman term, and it fell to me to be in the rostrum one night to serve here as Speaker Pro Tem. I thought that was a big deal until I figured out that’s what you do for freshmen late at night. (Laughter) I think as my memory serves, Ms. Jackson-Lee was winding down one of her long, eloquent speeches – and not that I was not enraptured by her speech – but I looked up at the top of the chamber there, and I saw the face of Moses staring down, and I just felt in that moment the weight of this place, right, the history that is revered here and the future that we are called to forge. And I really was just kind of almost overwhelmed with emotion. It occurred to me in that moment, it had been several weeks and I had not had an opportunity yet to grieve my dad’s passing and I just had this sense that somehow he knew. And I had tears come to my eyes, and I was standing here, and I’m wiping them away, and then it suddenly occurs to me, the late-night C-Span viewers are going to think something’s very wrong with the new young Congressman from Louisiana. It wasn’t Sheila’s speech; I’m sorry. (Laughter) I just knew in that moment that my dad, my father would be proud of me, and I felt that he was. And I think all of our parents are proud of what we’re called to do here.

             I think all the American people at one time had great pride in this institution, but right now that’s in jeopardy. And we have a challenge before us right now to rebuild and restore that trust. This is a beautiful country. It’s the beauty of America that allows a firefighter’s kid like me to come here and serve in this sacred chamber, where great men and women have served before all of us and strived together to build and then preserve what Lincoln did refer to as the last best hope of man on earth.

             We stand at a very dangerous time. I’m stating the obvious. We all know that. The world is in turmoil, but a strong America is good for the entire world. (Standing Ovation) We are the beacon of freedom, and we must preserve this grand experiment in self-governance. It still is; we’re only 247 years into this grand experiment, and we don’t know how long it will last. But we do know that the founders told us to take good care of it.

             I want to tell all my colleagues here what I told the Republicans in that room last night. I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this. I believe that scripture, the Bible is very clear, that God is the One that raises up those in authority He raised up each of you – all of us. And I believe that God has ordained and allowed each one of us to be brought here for this specific moment in this time. This is my belief.

             I believe that each one of us has a huge responsibility today to use the gifts that God has given us to serve the extraordinary people of this great country, and they deserve it. And to ensure that our republic remains standing as the great beacon of light and hope and freedom in a world that desperately needs it. (Applause)

             It was in 1962, in 1962, that our national motto In God We Trust was adorned above this rostrum. And if you look at the little guide that they give tourists and constituents who come and visit the House, if you turn in there to about page 14 in the middle of that guide, it tells you the history of this. And it says very simply, these words were placed here above us, this motto was placed here as a rebuke of the Cold War era philosophy of the Soviet Union. That philosophy was Marxism and Communism, which begins with the premise that there is no God.  

             This is a critical distinction, that is also articulated in our nation’s birth certificate. We know the language well – the famous second paragraph that we used to have children memorize in school, and they don’t do that so often anymore, but they should. G.K. Chesterton was the famous British philosopher and statesman, and he said one time, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded upon a creed, and he said it’s listed with almost theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence. What is our creed? We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal – not born equal – created equal, and they are endowed by the same inalienable rights, with the same inalienable rights, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. That is the creed that has animated our nation since its founding, that has made us the great nation that we are.

             And we’re in a time of extraordinary crisis right now. And the world needs us to be strong. They need us to remember our creed and our admonition. Turmoil and violence have rocked the Middle East and eastern Europe – we all know it – and tensions continue to build in the Indo-Pacific. The country demands strong leadership of this body, and we must not waver.

             Our nation’s greatest ally in the Middle East is under attack. The first bill that I’m going to bring to this floor in just a little while will be in support of our dear friend Israel, and we’re overdue in getting that done. (Applause) We’re going to show not only Israel but the entire world that the barbarism of Hamas that we have all seen play out on our television screens is wretched and wrong, and we are going to stand for the good in that conflict.

             We have a catastrophe at our southern border. The Senate and the White House can no longer ignore the problem. From Texas to New York, wave after wave of illegal migrants are stressing our communities to their breaking point. We know that our streets are being flooded with fentanyl. In all of our communities, children and even adults are dying from it. The status quo is unacceptable. Inaction is unacceptable, and we must come together and address the broken border. We have to do it. (Applause)

             The skyrocketing cost of living is unsustainable, and Americans should not have to worry about how they’re going to feed their family every week, because they can’t afford their groceries anymore. Everybody in this room should think about this: here’s the stats – prices have increased over 17% in the last two years, credit card interest rates are at the highest level in nearly three decades, and mortgage rates are now at a peak we haven’t seen since 2001. We have to bring relief to the American people by reining in federal spending and bringing down inflation. (Applause)

             The greatest threat to our national security is our nation’s debt. (Applause) And while we’ve been sitting in this room – that’s right – the debt has crossed almost 33.6 trillion dollars. In the time it’s going to take me to deliver this speech, we’ll go up another 20 million in debt. It’s unsustainable. We have to get the country back on track. Now we know this is not going to be an easy task, and tough decisions will have to be made, but the consequences if we don’t act now are unbearable. We have a duty to the American people to explain this to them so they understand it well, and we are going to establish a bipartisan debt commission to begin working on this crisis immediately, immediately. (Applause)

             We all know that we also live in a time of bitter partisanship. It was noted, and it’s been on display here today. When our people are losing their faith in government, when they’re losing sight of the principles that made us the greatest nation in the history of the world. I think we’ve got to be mindful of that. We’re going to fight – we’re going to fight vigorously – over our core principles, because they are at odds a lot of times now in this modern era. We have to sacrifice sometimes our preferences, because that’s what’s necessary in a legislative body. But we will defend our core principles to the end. (Applause)

             In his farewell address, President Reagan explained the secret of his rapport with people. And I like to paraphrase his explanation all the time. He said, You know they call me the Great Communicator, but I really wasn’t that. I was just communicating great things, and they’re the same great things that have guided our nation since its founding.

             What are those great things? I call them the seven core principles of American conservatism, but let me concede to you all, I think it’s really quintessentially, the core principles of our nation. I’ve boiled them down to: individual freedom, limited government, the rule of law, peace through strength, fiscal responsibility, free markets and human dignity. Those are the foundations that made us the extraordinary nation that we are. And you and I today are the stewards of those principles, the things that have made us the freest, most powerful, most successful nation in the history of the world, the things that have made us truly exceptional.

             In this time of great crisis, it is our duty to work together as previous generations of great leaders have, to face these great challenges and solve these great problems.

             I will conclude with this: the job of the Speaker of the House is to serve the whole body, and I will. But I’ve made a commitment to my colleagues here, that this Speaker’s office is going to be known for decentralizing the power here. (Applause) My office is going to be known for Members being more involved and having more influence in our processes and all the major decisions that are made here, for predictable processes and regular order. We owe that to the people. (Applause) That’s right.

             And I want to make this commitment to you, to my colleagues here and on the other side of the aisle as well: My office is going to be known for trust and transparency and accountability, for good stewardship of the people’s treasure, for the honesty and integrity that is incumbent upon us – all of us – here in the people’s house.

             Our system of government is not a perfect system. It’s got a lot of challenges, but it is still the best one in the world (Applause), and we have an opportunity to preserve it.

             The last thing I’m going to say is a message to the rest of the world. They have been watching this drama play out for a few weeks; we’ve learned a lot of lessons, but you know what? Through adversity it makes you stronger (Applause), and we want our allies around the world to know that this body of lawmakers is reporting again to our duty stations. Let the enemies of freedom around the world hear us loud and clear. The people’s House is back in business. (Cheers) Thank you, thank you.

             We will do our duty here. We will serve you well. We will govern well. And we’ll make you proud of this institution again. We’re going to fight every day to make sure that is true. I look forward to the days ahead. I genuinely believe in my heart that the best days of America are still ahead of us. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Cheers) Thank you.