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Election 2014- HUGE Victories & A Few Defeats: How the Midterms have and will impact the Pro-Life Movement

 

Without a doubt Tuesday’s Midterm Elections were a HUGE victory for the GOP, and the conservative movement nationwide.  Not only did the GOP take back control of the Senate for the first time in 8 years but several states made history with their choices for elected leaders and ballot measures/amendments that will have continued impact on the Pro-Life Movement. Let’s take a moment to break it down and see where we stand and where we still have a lot of work ahead of us!

We will start with California; since that is where Right to Life Central California calls home and where a majority of pro-life, conservative voters have felt disengaged and unheard by our local, state and federal leaders. Here in Fresno one of the greatest victories for the pro-life movement was the re-election of Congressman David Valadao who was going up against Amanda Renteria; an abortion on demand advocate and Planned Parenthood supporter. Not only did David Valadao vote yes on H.R. 1797 {the bill to protect unborn children/pain capable act} but he also voted to repeal Obamacare which currently provides funding for insurance plans that pay for abortion on demand. By choosing to re-elect David Valadao; valley voters are showing that they are taking a strong stance toward ending abortion on demand and taxpayer funded abortion services. Although California had one of its lowest voter turnouts in history and the fact that 40% of voters were unaware that Gov. Jerry Brown was even up for re-election, the polls showed Brown with an early lead over Republican candidate Neel Kashkari. What is disheartening about this is that Gov. Brown has chosen to maintain his strong pro-choice position and had the voters chosen to elect Neel Kashkari a breath of fresh air and support for the pro-life movement would have finally been at the head of our state government.

While Democrats held the majority of their offices in California, throughout the Nation, Republican candidates were knocking Democrats out of their seats in both the Senate and the House, and in some states history was made by electing leaders that are a first for their home state. In both Iowa and West Virginia, voters elected for the first time, female Senators. Joni Ernst and Shelley Moore Capito won their seat in the Senate on Tuesday night, and in Utah; Mia Love became the first African American Republican member of Congress.

It was also a historic night for the younger generation of politics. In New York’s 21st District, Elise Stefanik became the youngest member ever elected to Congress at only 30 years old and in West Virginia; Saira Blair became the youngest candidate to EVER be elected into the House of Representatives for the 59th district; Blair who has been very vocal on her pro-life position will be the face of the pro-life generation in Washington. At only 18 years old Saira Blair is in a position to show that the belief and respect for the sanctity of life is prominent throughout the younger generation and can be the voice for not only the conservative voters in her home state but the voice for the pro-life generation throughout our nation. The importance of these historic choices not only place women in a place of Congressional relevance but also undermine the fallacy that the Obama administration and the DNC have been promoting as the “War on Women” that they have used the GOP as a stomping ground for over the course of this election. By placing these women in a position to change the landscape of politics as they related to the female voting population, we now have the opportunity to be a strong voice with intelligent, conservative leaders.

 

One of the largest victories for the pro-life movement was passing of Amendment 1 in Tennessee. For 14 years the pro-life movement in Tennessee has fought to restore abortion regulations that were once in place ; after being struck down in 2000 by the Supreme Court turned Tennessee into the “destination abortion” state in the Southeast. I was able to speak with Lorene Steffes; a spokesperson for Yes On 1 and she told me that one of the things she contributes to the success of Amendment 1 passing was the 18 month grassroots effort that was led throughout the state. There are 95 counties in the state of Tennessee and the Yes On 1 campaign was able to place a “campaign advocate” in every single one of those counties. The purpose behind this was to not only educate the voters in TN about the amendment but to also ensure that the accurate information was being given to voters in the face of deceptive counter-advertising. While speaking with Lorene she informed me that Amendment 1 not only allows Tennessee to make its own decisions regarding abortion and abortion regulations but it also protects women on all sides. During the 14 year period, the 8 abortion clinics in the state were under no regulation by the State or local government. Without any regulations at all on abortion and abortion services, these clinics were operating and performing abortion procedures even though they were not licensed medical facilities by the state, were not inspected by the State Health Department and even though not all the staff who were performing these abortions were licensed and in one instance a “Nurse Practitioner” was found to be performing surgical abortion procedures even though she was not currently licensed to practice medicine, nor was she able to provide any documentation or proof that she had ever been licensed as a Nurse Practitioner. Whether a female voter chooses to take a pro-life or pro-choice position, by ensuring that regulations are put in place, the passing of Amendment 1 is a step towards safer and better regulated Women’s Health Care Services. The goal of Amendment 1 in the immediate moment is to restore PRIOR state held regulations for abortion services. While there are currently no plans to introduce legislature that would ban abortion in Tennessee, the purpose of the Amendment is to ensure that local and state governments have the right to put in place regulations they feel best fit the states needs which includes stopping the “destination abortion” mentality that Tennessee has held over the past 14 years.

 

As always we know that in the first few days after an election the “winning” side is basking in the warm glow of a successful campaign, but it is so vital that we continue to take steps forward in partnership with our new elected officials to continue the incredible amount of work that needs to continue in order to further the mission of restoring the sanctity of life in our country. Lastly, I want to thank each and every one of you who took the time to go out and vote on Tuesday. As a veteran of the US Armed Forces I am incredibly proud to see citizens exercising their right to vote and making their voices and beliefs heard. Remember OUR government works FOR us, and it is our job to put into leadership; strong, god-fearing and compassionate leaders to guide our nation.

What Happens in DC doesn’t Stay In DC.

abortion-ap_1

For years the “pro-choice” movement has used the argument that elective abortion is NOT a political matter and that reproductive decisions should be kept between a woman and her physician. YET the latest attempt at weakening our  moral fabric is a bill based solely on the opposite opinion of what pro-choice advocates have been preaching for so many years. The latest attack comes from the City Council of DC who is currently proposing a bill which would “require employers to provide health insurance for abortions regardless of the employer’s beliefs and convictions” and if passed would force religious employers and pro-life organizations in our Nation’s Capital to provide these services by law.

What Is Bill 20-790?

Proposed Bill 20-790 {Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act} would force ALL employers to provide health care funding for reproductive services REGARDLESS if by providing such access it violates the organizations freedom of religion. Religious employers, particularly the Archdiocese of Washington were singled out Rep. Grosso (chief sponsor of the bill) as examples of organizations for which there is a “need to impose this mandate on health insurance plans”. At a public hearing held in June 2014, Rep. Grosso stated that “I believe that religions don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage, which is too bad, but they don’t have to; whereas non-profits and other private entities do have to give what is now considered a healthcare right for all Americans” In addition to Rep. Grosso’s statement that actual “religions” themselves could not be forced to provide contraceptive coverage BUT that religious non-profit ministries could be and should be.

Bill 20-790 further defines “reproductive health decisions” as {a decision by an employee, an employee’s dependent or an employee’s spouse related to the use or intended use of a particular drug, device, or medical service including the use or intended use of contraception or fertility control OR the planned or intended initiation or termination of pregnancy.}  An example of such policy enforcement is as follows; Let’s say John Smith works for a pro-life, non-denominational; non-profit organization based in Texas; he has a 17 year old daughter who finds herself facing an unplanned pregnancy, she leaves Texas (which currently requires parental consent for abortions for minors) and goes to New Mexico (where there is no consent law) terminates the pregnancy AND now Mr. Smith’s health insurance (which is paid for by his organization) is FORCED to pay for the abortion even though it is in direct conflict with the organizations religious beliefs and practices. Not only is this bill a clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act but is unconstitutional and a violation of First Amendment rights of expressive association and free speech.

As anyone who works within a non-profit organization is aware, the voice of the organization is spoken through its employees, and in an era of fast-growing and influential social media and hyper-partisan politics these organizations must ensure that their message is not compromised by those who are responsible for communicating that message on the organizations behalf. Any organization (whether religious or not) {*but in this instance we are discussing the attack on religious based non-profit groups who abide by a pro-life stance*} must wholeheartedly and unapologetically guard the integrity of their organization and the mission of the organization as a whole. Pro-Life Organizations messages would be unduly undermined if they were forced through legislation to employ those who advocate for abortion or conduct themselves in a manner that is in contraventions of the organizations core beliefs and religious freedoms by undergoing an abortion. In the same way that a non-profit group who supports abortions takes steps to ensure its employees are not participating in pro-life activism or members of groups such as PETA believe that their message is not effectively communicated by those who choose to consume animal byproducts, a non-profit, pro-life organization must be free  to choose to use its resources, financial and other wise to ensure those who represent the organization are upholding its core beliefs and not distracting from the organizations overall mission.

Lastly, it is important to know that Bill 20-790 contains no express exceptions and that while certain exceptions available under the Human Rights Act {D.C. Code 2-1401.03} might apply, the committee report for Bill 20-790 emphasizes that they would provide no real protection for religious or other pro-life employers UNLESS the organization is directly operated or controlled within connection to a particular religious group. That religious or political organizations not “operated, supervised or controlled” by a religious organization will not be protected. What this is truly infringing upon is our right to have a PRO-LIFE, non-partisan, non-denominational, non-profit organization and that the only way to ensure our constitutional right to freedom of speech and religion is NOT violated is to align an organization with a particular religious group which will cater to the beliefs of that particular faith and not the “sanctity of human life” as a whole. It is somewhat unclear as to why the Council is even considering such an ill-fated bill which truly has no hope of being upheld, will waste taxpayer dollars and funding and could open the door to District employees to personal liability for enforcement of a law that under the Constitution is illegal, what is clear however is that the Committee responsible for backing such a bill anticipates that through passing such a bill it will burden religious and other pro-life employers which as the hearing demonstrated is the very goal of Bill 20-790 “Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment”.

While this is bill is currently only in consideration in our Capital of Washington DC, it is vital that we as a nation and as Christians stand up and in unity and with purpose send a clear and strong message that we will NOT participate in the murder of innocent children, that we will NOT be forced to violate our conscience and morals and that we will NOT submit to FORCED FUNDING of abortion. By using the broad term of “reproductive health” the advocates and supporters of this bill are attempting to continue on with the inaccurate fallacy that abortion is a reproductive RIGHT, choosing to abide by Natural Family Planning is a reproductive right, choosing to use condoms and other PRE fertilization contraceptives are a reproductive right; TEARING limbs from a human being, and INJECTING them with fatal poisons, and other horrific and abhorrent methods used to end their life is NOT “health care”, and it is not a reproductive RIGHT particularly when it is being FORCED upon a person to condone against their moral and religious convictions. The war on life has expanded to a war on liberty of conscience and it is time that we stand up and be a collective voice that refuses to tolerate a “national standard of abortion”.

The Most Undervalued Argument in the Prolife Movement

The JFA philosophy team has been utilizing an argument that should be used by the entire prolife movement because the results have been amazing.

One of the best parts of my job is the work I do partnering with Justice For All. I’ve spent four years being trained by Steve Wagner to do many of the things he does for JFA in Wichita, from facilitating seminars and outreaches to coaching mentors.

Steve shared an argument with my brother Tim last year that he heard from J.P. Moreland and is featured on page 67 of Scott Klusendorf’s book, “The Case for Life” that I haven’t seen very many pro-life advocates utilize. So the three of us have been emphasizing it in campus dialogue, and over the last year we’ve been discussing how we might train our volunteers to use it.

The results have been amazing. Equal Rights Institute and Justice For All are now teaching this argument in all of our seminars.

It’s called the Equal Rights Argument.

We’re asking pro-choice people if they agree that all human adults have an equal right to life.

When they say yes, we ask them,  “Doesn’t that mean there must be something the same about us?” We’re asking pro-choice people if they agree that all human adults have an equal right to life.

In other words, if we all have an equal right to life, then we must all have something in common that demands that we treat each other equally, and we must have that property equally. It can’t be something (like size or intelligence) that comes in degrees, or it wouldn’t explain our equal right to life.

When the pro-choice person agrees with that conclusion, we simply ask them what is the same about us.

I think the natural temptation for a pro-life advocate who is ready with an answer to this question is to share that answer at this point. But we’d rather let the pro-choice person consider the question for themselves, and only offer our answer when they ask for it.

In my experience people aren’t annoyed by the Equal Rights Argument questions. They tend to see the value of the questions, but need to take some time to think about it. We wait patiently, and if they give an answer, we engage it. But if they have no idea, we then ask if they would like to hear our answer. Nearly everybody says yes.

Our answer is that we all have humanness in common. That’s something that doesn’t come in degrees. It’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing.

And if being human is what gives us intrinsic value, then that explains a lot of data. It explains why all the adult humans have an equal right to life, even though we have so many differences. It also explains why things like racism and sexism are wrong. Those things focus on a surface difference that doesn’t morally matter, and ignores the thing we have in common, which IS what morally matters!

Some philosophers have alternative explanations for our equal right to life. It’s my view that all of these alternative explanations have major consequences, in that they either entail an equal right to life for a bunch of animals, or they deny a right to life to human infants. I’ll explain this more fully in a follow-up post.

I’ve been using this argument on campuses this year and the results have been incredible. I’ve never seen an argument persuade so many people that abortion is wrong.

I’m going to start regularly posting stories of actual dialogues where I used this argument, so you can see how this works in a real-time conversation.

This material has been heavily influenced by Steve Wagner from Justice For All. One of our primary focuses this year has been working on testing this argument and learning how to teach it to others.

*Originally Published October 1, 2013