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Right to Life Radio, May 4, 2019

Listen to this week’s episode online here. Download on Apple Podcasts here. Watch on YouTube here.

On this week’s episode, John Gerardi and Jonathan Keller talk about Title X funding, how the pro-choice movement exploits the federal judicial system, and perinatal hospice programs.

Federal district court judges have been issuing injunctions for Trump administration policies with which they disagree, most recently Title X funding.  Title X is a program that focuses on funding for family planning programs.  Started under the Nixon administration, grants are given to states and institutions.  Originally, funds were prohibited from going to abortion providers. So how has Planned Parenthood become one of the chief recipients?

Planned Parenthood claims that within the walls of their building, they have an abortion-providing clinic and a Title X-eligible clinic.  Sure, they both have the same staff and the same address, but technically, they’re different providers.  The Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations tried to close this loophole by prohibiting providers from performing abortions on site, referring patients for abortions, or counseling for abortion (which the pro-choice lobby labelled a “gag rule”).  The Clinton administration eliminated this rule, and the George W Bush administration didn’t touch it.

Enter the Trump administration.  The Department of Health and Human Services reinstated some of the Reagan-era rules: Title X recipients may still counsel regarding abortion (hence, no “gag rule”), but they did reinstate the rule that Title X-eligible clinics must be physically and financially separate from abortion providers, and that they may not refer for abortion (NOTE: John got this a bit confused during the show!).  This would eliminate Planned Parenthood clinics from funding eligibility because these days all Planned Parenthood clinics provide abortions (surgical or medication).

Due to the U.S. Federal Court Structure, any individual District Court judge can issue a stay of federal law that takes effect throughout the entire country.  This has been seen recently with judges ruling on immigration regulations, and now with abortion funding regulations. Even though these restrictions are clearly consistent with the text of Title X (and were already upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991), the rules have been blocked by judges in the Eastern District of Washington and the District of Oregon.

Right to Life of Central California is partnering with The Obria Group to bring a pro-life prenatal healthcare clinic to Fresno.  This clinic will provide prenatal care, abortion pill reversal, cancer screenings, and other healthcare services in a life-affirming, positive environment.  

The Obria Group was recently awarded a $5.1 million grant from Title X funds.  Unfortunately, the recent injunction on the new funding rules has placed these funds in jeopardy.  Obria has started the process of challenging this, but the case may go all the way to the Supreme Court, which could take years to resolve.  (Click here for more about RLCC’s partnership with Obria)

John talked about RLCC’s Open House earlier this week, at which he met a pregnant woman whose baby has received a fatal diagnosis.  After the baby’s condition was diagnosed, she was immediately pressured by her doctor to end her pregnancy. When she cancelled her abortion appointment and chose to pursue perinatal hospice, her doctor threatened to drop her as a patient.

Indiana Right to Life was successful in passing a bill requiring that mothers whose babies are diagnosed with life-limiting conditions be given information about perinatal hospice.  Studies show that parents who receive information about perinatal hospice are significantly more likely to carry their babies to term.  The law doesn’t restrict abortion in any way – it is “pro-choice” in the truest sense of the word – and received bipartisan support.  RLCC plans to partner with local lawmakers to advance a similar bill in California.  Please contact us if you or someone you know needs support regarding an adverse fetal diagnosis.

Right to Life Radio can be heard on PowerTalk 96.7 every Saturday morning from 7-8am.  It is also available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Abortion Ideology Running Roughshod Over Common Sense in State Legislature

Last week the state Senate Health Committee approved SB 24, a bill requiring that the student health centers at every CSU and UC provide medication abortion drugs to students. The bill now goes to more committees in the Senate, before heading to the Assembly. Its success demonstrates how abortion ideology is running roughshod over common sense in Sacramento.

Let’s define terms, and explain exactly what this bill would do. “Medication abortion” is a series of two drugs taken over two days, at 8-10 weeks of pregnancy, to induce an artificial miscarriage. At 10 weeks, a fetus has arms, legs, fingers, toes, eyes, sex characteristics, a heartbeat, and a working brain — distinguishably a living, human organism.

The medications are ingested in a clinical setting under the supervision of medical personnel. However, the actual expelling of the fetus and its attendant complications generally occurs at home or — as supporters of this bill seem to think appropriate — in a college dormitory bathroom of questionable sanitation.

The side effects of medical abortion can be serious: extreme pain, cramping, bleeding, passing massive blood clots, fever, infection, and more. The FDA reported that 22 women have died from medication abortion so far, 4,000 women have had seriously adverse events, more than 1,000 have been hospitalized, and 598 required a transfusion due to severe blood loss.

SB 24 requires that these drugs be available at every CSU and UC student health center, but this is not all it mandates. It creates a telemedicine service allowing students to obtain a prescription for abortion via their smartphones. It necessitates that student health centers obtain the apparatus required for providing this medication, including purchasing and installing ultrasound machines, which student health centers currently lack.

They lack ultrasound machines because full prenatal health care is beyond the scope of what a university health center is supposed to do. They are intended to provide certain basic forms of care (all with low liability risks), and to get a student to another healthcare provider for serious medical interventions.

Because it is beyond their health centers’ mission, both the CSU and UC systems have refused to support SB 24. Yet our legislators seem to think they know better.

While supporters claim this bill will not use taxpayer revenue or student tuition, it explicitly declined to add language closing off that possibility, and the program is only funded privately for a few years with no subsequent provision. Student tuition fees and taxpayer revenue also already pay for the overhead at student health centers — supporters of the bill seem to live in a fairytale where those costs are separate from the cost of abortion. The increased liability universities will face for providing abortion will, doubtless, also be borne by taxpayers and students.

The bill also allows federal tax dollars to fund this program, anticipating and hoping for a change in federal policy should a pro-choice candidate win the White House in 2020. Meanwhile, Americans oppose taxpayer funding of abortion by a 54% to 39% margin.

By vetoing this legislation last September, Gov. Jerry Brown was far more grounded in reality than today’s pro-choice supermajorities in the Legislature. Even someone as committed to abortion rights as Brown recognized that California public universities have no obligation to furnish their students with walking-distance, government-furnished access to abortion, or to remove every conceivable hindrance to its access.

The bill was an interesting test for South Valley Sen. Melissa Hurtado, who sits on the Health Committee. While her party supports the bill, she represents a relatively conservative district that was held by Republicans for years, and whose Democrat voters are largely Latinos with relatively conservative viewpoints on abortion. In spite of a wave of opposing phone calls from her constituents, she voted in favor of the bill, thereby indicating a position on abortion more extreme than Jerry Brown’s.

Hurtado has distinguished herself in her first months in the Legislature by advocating for lower income communities through positive healthcare proposals, and won her race by promoting herself as a fiscal conservative. Yet this bill’s success shows how powerful the pro-choice lobby is, and how there is no room in Sacramento for anything short of abortion extremism.

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Thoughts on the NY Late-Term Abortion Law

As a child in the early 90’s, I would sometimes visit the old Valley Children’s Hospital at Shields and Millbrook, where my father worked. The NICU unit was near my dad’s office, and there was an outside window where you could peer in and see the preemies in their bassinets. My brother and I would press our noses against the glass to look at these tiny, precious babies, for whose lives the heroic staff at Valley Children’s fought—and still fight—every day.

Last week, New York passed a law permitting abortions on babies even older than the NICU preemies at Valley Children’s. Virginia’s legislature tried to do the same, but the bill failed in committee after the author confirmed that the bill would allow an abortion to take place even at full term, during natural labor.

The Virginia controversy was compounded by comments from Virginia’s governor, Dr. Ralph Northam, who stated that physicians and patients should be able to decide whether a child who survives an abortion procedure should be given life-sustaining care, or be allowed to die. The New York law also allows doctors to decline basic care to children who survive abortion.

There is a word for what these laws permit: infanticide. And when it isn’t infanticide, it’s only a difference of six inches—the length of a birth canal.

There are roughly 15,000 late-term abortions per year, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.  For a sense of scale, that’s more than the total number of gun homicides the FBI reported in 2016.

These are abortions being performed on human beings—babies with hands, feet, fingers, toes, beating hearts, functioning brains, voices that cry, and nerves that feel pain.

There are babies in the NICU at Valley Children’s at this very moment who were born in the second trimester, as young as 22 weeks. But because of the wicked illogic of a group of black-robed lawyers, a baby’s location (in a womb vs. out of it) solely determines her moral value and legal status.

Some note that New York’s new law permits abortion throughout the third trimester only if the pregnancy impacts a woman’s “life or health.” This language, derived from Roe v. Wade’s sister case Doe v. Bolton, is far broader than it seems.

“Health,” as defined by Doe and subsequent cases, includes questions relating to “physical, emotional, psychological, familial [health], and the woman’s age.” Thus, the exception is so broad that it swallows the rule. Any and every unwanted pregnancy implicates some aspect of “health,” so defined.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Roe’s 1992 successor case, held that states could only ban post-viability abortions if this “exception” is in place. States are thereby hamstrung in putting effective limitations on abortion, even in the third trimester.

Most people don’t understand how extreme the Supreme Court’s abortion decisions are, but the New York and Virginia proposals are demonstrating the disconnect between our law and public opinion. These laws and decisions are far more extreme than what most Americans believe.

Last month’s Marist Poll Survey found that 75% of Americans and 60% of Democrats believe abortion should be limited to the first trimester. 65% of Americans believe the Supreme Court should revisit Roe v. Wade, either to allow each state to regulate abortion, or to outlaw abortion altogether. 54% of Americans oppose any taxpayer funding of abortion. 62% oppose abortions in cases of Down Syndrome, and 59% would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, except to save the mother’s life. Only 15% of Americans, and 25% of pro-choice Americans, support legal abortion at any stage. The Democrat Party’s platform, and essentially all of the party’s presidential candidates, are on the wrong side of these statistics.

Fearful that Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh’s arrival to the Supreme Court could turn abortion regulation fully over to the states, liberal state lawmakers are acting swiftly to codify Roe into law, with full-throated support from Democrat presidential candidates. In doing so, they risk proving President Trump right when he labeled the Democrats “the Party of late term abortion.”