FRC Blog

Supreme Court takes a “Painful Bite” out of Free Speech

by Lindsey Keiser

June 18, 2015

While the Supreme Court protected free speech by invalidating town sign ordinances that restricted speech according to its content in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the Court’s decision today in Walker v. Texas Div. of Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc. took “a large and painful bite out of the First Amendment,” as Justice Alito noted in dissent.

Drivers in most states have the option of selecting either ordinary or specialty license plates. In Texas, specialty license plates are purchased for a fee in addition to the registration cost and the design of these specialty licenses can be called for by the state legislature, created by a state-designated private vendor at the request of an individual or organization, or based on the application from a non-profit seeking to sponsor a specialty plate. In Walker, a non-profit, the Sons of Confederate Veterans applied twice to sponsor a specialty plate that would have included a Confederate flag but was denied both times.

The Supreme Court ruled that the specialty license plates are not private speech, but are instead government speech. Therefore, any decisions regarding the designs are not subject to scrutiny under the First Amendment.

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Overview of Reed v. Town of Gilbert: Pastor Wins Supreme Court Case Against Local Government Trying to Restrict His Church Signs

by Travis Weber

June 18, 2015

In its opinion issued today in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, the Supreme Court handed a solid victory to Pastor Jack Reed and Good News Community Church, unanimously holding that the town’s regulation of signs to church meetings violated the Free Speech protections of the First Amendment.

A Gilbert, Arizona sign ordinance had discriminated against certain signs based on the content of the signs—whether they were political, ideological, and directional. Directional signs were placed under more severe restrictions than the other types.

Good News Community Church and its pastor, Clyde Reed, needed to announce the times and locations of their services, but because their announcement signs (which directed individuals to a public school where services were being held) were considered directional, the church was severely hampered in speaking its message. Pastor Reed and Good News Community Church filed suit after unsuccessfully seeking an accommodation from the town. The lower courts ruled against them, so they took their case to the Supreme Court. Family Research Council filed an amicus brief with the Court siding with Pastor Reed and his church to make the case for a robust interpretation of our First Amendment rights.

Writing for the Court, Justice Thomas held that Gilbert’s sign code engaged in content discrimination and thus had to meet strict scrutiny, which it failed to do.

Government regulation of speech is content based if a law applies to particular speech because of the topic discussed or the idea or message expressed,” Justice Thomas wrote. If regulation is content based, it must meet strict scrutiny, meaning the government must have a compelling interest behind its regulation and the regulation must be done in the least restrictive way possible.

The Court noted that “[t]his commonsense meaning of the phrase “content based” requires a court to consider whether a regulation of speech “on its face” draws distinctions based on the message a speaker conveys… . Some facial distinctions based on a message are obvious, defining regulated speech by particular subject matter, and others are more subtle, defining regulated speech by its function or purpose. Both are distinctions drawn based on the message a speaker conveys, and, therefore, are subject to strict scrutiny.”

In this case, “[t]he restrictions in the Sign Code that apply to any given sign thus depend entirely on the communicative content of the sign. If a sign informs its reader of the time and place a book club will discuss John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, that sign will be treated differently from a sign expressing the view that one should vote for one of Locke’s followers in an upcoming election, and both signs will be treated differently from a sign expressing an ideological view rooted in Locke’s theory of government.”

Here, “the Church’s signs inviting people to attend its worship services are treated differently from signs conveying other types of ideas. On its face, the Sign Code is a content-based regulation of speech.”

In essence, Gilbert treated directional signs differently than others. It thus regulated signs based on their content. “We thus have no need to consider the government’s justifications or purposes for enacting the Code to determine whether it is subject to strict scrutiny.”

Justice Thomas continued by noting the Ninth Circuit’s reasoning to the contrary was unpersuasive. Content based regulation occurs if it is present on the face of the regulation, regardless of the government’s motive. “In other words, an innocuous justification cannot transform a facially content-based law into one that is content neutral,” and the Court rejected any reliance on Ward v. Rock Against Racism for the notion that government purpose is relevant when a law is content based on its face: “[W]e have repeatedly ‘rejected the argument that discriminatory … treatment is suspect under the First Amendment only when the legislature intends to suppress certain ideas.’ … We do so again today.”

Of note, the Ninth Circuit opinion which the Court so clearly rejected here relied on Hill v. Colorado for similarly dubious reasoning. This rejection confirms our observation about Hill in our amicus brief:

[T]he Hill majority was wrong to treat ‘protest, education, [and] counseling,’ the activities forbidden by the Colorado statute in Hill, merely as modes of speech rather than as distinct subjects of messages… . [T]hat the Hill majority’s analysis would lead a federal court of appeals to conclude that the Gilbert ordinance—an ordinance that on its face differentiates expression by content and imposes different restrictions based solely on content—is somehow content-neutral is one more reason … to overrule Hill.”

Indeed, as Justice Thomas realizes, “[i]nnocent motives do not eliminate the danger of censorship presented by a facially content-based statute, as future government officials may one day wield such statutes to suppress disfavored speech. That is why the First Amendment expressly targets the operation of the laws—i.e., the ‘abridg[ement] of speech’—rather than merely the motives of those who enacted them.” He presciently quotes Justice Scalia’s dissent in Hill: “[t]he vice of content-based legislation … is not that it is always used for invidious, thought-control purposes, but that it lends itself to use for those purposes.”

The Court then analyzed the sign code under strict scrutiny, and found that the code’s differential treatment of certain signs based on how it characterized their content did not serve any compelling interest in a narrowly tailored way. The town offered two reasons for its regulation—“aesthetics” and “traffic safety”—neither of which persuaded the Court. “Aesthetics” did not serve as a sufficient reason to draw the distinctions as the code drew them, the Court said. Neither is “traffic safety” advanced by limiting certain content more than others. As the Court noted, local governments can further legitimate interests in traffic and pedestrian safety, among other interests, through content neutral restrictions which are narrowly tailored. The Town of Gilbert’s did not meet that standard.

Justice Alito wrote a concurring opinion in Reed, joined by Justices Kennedy and Sotomayor, outlining simple ways that municipalities can still regulate signs consistent with this opinion.

Justice Breyer also wrote a concurring opinion, cautioning against using content as an “automatic … trigger” for strict scrutiny, and argued for more “judicial sensitivity” to the First Amendment’s objectives. He opined that because speech is so often regulated by the government, the ruling in this case will result in “judicial management” of all sorts of government activity.

However, while Justice Breyer makes an attempt to articulate an alternative standard, it is convoluted and confusing:

The better approach is to generally treat content discrimination as a strong reason weighing against the constitutionality of a rule where a traditional public forum, or where viewpoint discrimination, is threatened, but elsewhere treat it as a rule of thumb, finding it a helpful, but not determinative legal tool, in an appropriate case, to determine the strength of a justification. I would use content discrimination as a supplement to a more basic analysis, which, tracking most of our First Amendment cases, asks whether the regulation at issue works harm to First Amendment interests that is disproportionate in light of the relevant regulatory objectives. Answering this question requires examining the seriousness of the harm to speech, the importance of the countervailing objectives, the extent to which the law will achieve those objectives, and whether there are other, less restrictive ways of doing so.”

Unfortunately, such a vague standard would likely invite more judicial management (at least leaving more discretion in the hands of judges) then the majority’s clear rule here. In addition, “substituting judicial judgment for that of administrators” is precisely what we need the separation of powers for. In this case, “administrators” saw their clearly content based regulation as permissible, and needed the Supreme Court to articulate the correct standard—which it did.

Justice Kagan also concurred, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, and argued that the majority’s rule would capture all types of regulation within its net which is not necessary, and instead the “content-regulation doctrine” should be administered “with a dose of common sense, so as to leave standing laws that in no way implicate its intended function.”

While there likely are a number of regulations which may be implicated by the majority’s ruling, it is better to resolve doubts in the ruling in favor of individual rights, if nowhere more than when the First Amendment is at issue. Regardless, the problem remains: who gets to say what common sense is?

Does Justice Kagan have a point that the town’s regulation here could have been failed on tailoring alone, instead of being declared invalid under a rigid holding which she believes we “will regret” down the road after seeing how intrusively it requires courts to review sign codes? Perhaps so. But at this juncture it’s better to have clear constitutional guidelines laid out by the Court. Finally, the regulations which hypothetically concern the concurring Justices may not devolve into litigation, thus minimizing this ruling’s actual effect.

In sum, the ruling today is a Free Speech victory, and should be celebrated by all adherents to a strong First Amendment and individual rights.

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Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News June 18, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

June 18, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


Transgenderism is much in the news, animated in large part by Bruce Jenner’s reportedly air-brushed photograph of himself as a woman on the cover of a leading magazine.

On Wednesday of this week, the New York Times carried an above-the-fold, front page article, complete with an eye-catching photograph, about an 18 year-old boy who now goes by the name of Katharine. It describes the surgery and drug treatments that have caused him to have a body simulating a girl’s. However, the author notes, given that the surgery took place only within the past year, “It was too late to change some things, like Kat’s tenor voice and facial hair. ‘I hate my voice,’ she said. ‘I shave.’ She chose not to save sperm — to her, a revolting reminder of masculinity — so she cannot have children, the one sacrifice that gave her father a pang.”

The article describes the boy’s physical alteration this way: “The operation involved deconstructing her male genitals and repurposing the nerves and skin as female anatomy.” Historically, this kind of surgery has been rejected by the medical establishment as mutilation.

All Christians should grieve for this young man and his family, and pray they find hope and healing in Christ — the same hope and healing all of us find when we come to know His great love and decide to follow Him.

FRC’s latest publication, “Understanding and Responding to the Transgender Movement,” addresses the many aspects of this phenomenon and includes a seven-page executive summary. It’s available online now and can be downloaded at no cost.

People struggling with their biological identity need counsel and compassion, not surgery, social empowerment or media acclaim. And, like all of us, they need the redeeming grace of a loving Savior. Let’s be sure to extend it to them.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President,
Family Research Council

P.S. There’s only one radio program in the country that almost every day features a Member of Congress — FRC President Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch.” Just in the past week, Tony’s program has hosted two Senators, three current U.S. Representatives, and two presidential candidates, not to mention Christian leaders like Franklin Graham and the Benham brothers. Watch it online or listen on your local radio station — it’s a unique resource for all who care about faith, family, and freedom.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Abstinence

Adoption

Assisted Suicide

Bioethics

 

Marriage & the Family

Marriage

Economy and the family

Fatherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Pornography

 

Religious Liberty and Persecution

Domestic

International

 

Religion in Public Life

Christian faith and public policy

 

Education

 

Other Stories of Note

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Russell Moore Considers Spiritual Warfare & Adoption

by Chris Gacek

June 18, 2015

Russell Moore has released a new, short book on adoption.  It has a fascinating title:  Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice.  It is available from Crossway here, and in Kindle (and paperback) format from Amazon.

In “Adoption and Spiritual Warfare,” an article taken from the book, Dr. Moore makes some dramatic observations:

The protection of children isn’t charity. It isn’t part of a political program fitting somewhere between tax cuts and gun rights or between carbon emission caps and a national service corps.
It’s spiritual warfare.
Our God forbids Israel from offering their children to Molech, a demon-god who demands the violent sacrifice of human babies (Lev. 20:1–5). Indeed, he denounces Molech by name. He further warns that he will cut off from the people of God not only the one who practiced such sacrifice but also all who “at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech” (Lev. 20:4). Behind Molech, God recognizes, there is one who is “a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).
The spirit of Molech is at work among us even now.

My colleague at FRC, Pierre Bynum, once observed to me regarding abortion: “Satan wants to kill and destroy all human beings because each person is endowed with the image of God.”  Each human being is an intrinsic enemy – before or after birth.

So, if adoption is inherently an act nurturing human life and expressing love, then Satan believes it must be opposed and eradicated.  The Church, however, is commanded to care for orphans and widows, so we have marching orders in this fight.  As Moore notes, the protection of innocent life isn’t about politics, it lies at the core of Christian obligation.

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Lady Liberty’s 130th Birthday in America

by Joshua Denton

June 17, 2015

The Statue of Liberty is just that – an icon of American liberty. The Lady in the Harbor arrived in America 130 years ago today. She stands for all that we as a nation represent and all that we as American citizens believe in. Religiously, politically, socially, economically – America is a nation that is overflowing with a rich heritage of Christianity.

Emma Lazarus wrote the following sonnet that is now placed on Lady Liberty’s pedestal.

’Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!’ cries she
With silent lips. ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

If ever there was a mission minded message it would be the famous words of this poem. These are words that thrill the heart strings of all who love liberty and freedom. I am extremely proud to be a citizen of a nation that has such a strong foundation based on biblical principles of morality, freedom, and justice for all. As American citizens we do have a responsibility to extend the freedoms that we enjoy to others, and we also have a responsibility to protect our own freedoms.

James Truslow Adams, in his book The Epic of America, which was written in 1931, stated that the American dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” (p.214-215)

It is because of America’s rich Christian heritage that we have been a nation that traditionally is known as a place of safe-haven and refuge from persecution, prosecution, harassment, and torture because of our religious beliefs. A place where citizens are free to worship God according to conscience. In America we have liberty to worship God without facing more than mild opposition. Sadly, because not all nations have a Christian background like America, their citizens do not enjoy this privilege that we as Americans to often take for granted. A perfect example is these two pastors from Sudan who have been arrested and are facing the death penalty because of their faith in Christ. And we think it’s rough when we have to take a stand that’s “not cool.”

Liberty is a thing to be cherished. If we want to preserve liberty, freedoms, and the “American dream” we need to take lessons from history, previous governments, past heroes, and our recent problems. The Marquis de Lafayette referred to himself as “a missionary of liberty.” By passing along our rich Christian heritage we can extend the liberties and freedoms that we currently enjoy to future generations and others. 

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Is POT a Laudable Pursuit?

by Robert Morrison

June 17, 2015

Some in the conservative movement seem confused by the rush to legalize marijuana. Maybe we should run with the crowd, these folks are asking themselves. Maybe we’ll be more popular with the young. Maybe the elders of the tribe should follow the youngest one, they say.

Maybe NOT. We elders have all been 18; none of these young Americans has been fifty yet. And we want them all to get to be fifty.

My friends Bill Bennett and Seth Leibsohn have penned this important column in the Los Angeles Times.  Here, they raise an important warning about the rush to reefers.

What I like best is their quote from Lincoln. The purpose of government is to “clear the paths of laudable pursuit.” This might be called the Lincoln Corollary to the Declaration of Independence. When some mistakenly think that Jefferson’s wonderful phrase “pursuit of happiness” implies hedonism and nihilism, or a laissez-faire attitude toward personal and public morality, Lincoln gets us back on track with that laudable pursuit line.

Do we have too many young men finishing school, pursuing skilled vocations, signing up for the military, marrying, fathering children, serving in local volunteer fire departments, and coaching Little League?

If you are in favor of legalizing pot, do you think we haven’t had enough Fergusons or Baltimores?

We owe the young our best judgment. I didn’t do drugs as a young man, but I was an avid smoker. I really enjoyed lighting up. I valued the camaraderie of a smoke break with my buddies in the military.

Last October 27, I was leaving my local convenience store with my coffee in hand. A fellow in front of me held the door and, just as I exited, he lit up.

I did inhale. It was my first inhaling in thirty-seven years. And I instantly remembered why I liked smoking cigarettes.

We shouldn’t “play the Pharisee,” another great Lincoln phrase. We shouldn’t act holier than thou. But we owe our young friends our best guidance for them and for ourselves.

Or else, what are those “better angels of our Nature” for?

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The Establishment of a New Religion

by Travis Weber

June 17, 2015

Today in The Hill blog, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty Executive Director Ron Crews drills down on the “almost cult-like determination to advance the hyper-homosexualization of the military,” which “is tearing apart the good order and discipline which holds our armed forces together.”

He aptly notes that “since the repeal of the so-called ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, homosexual advocacy has become a sort of ‘religious’ force, and the American military gives it preferential treatment to established faiths in violation of its very own regulations.”

No one would be accused of lacking logic or common sense if they claimed it appears the military (indeed, our executive branch at large) is “establishing” a State orthodoxy, er, a State “religion.”

The Establishment Clause is cited all the time for all sorts of perceived “violations,” but one of the things it actually was meant to prohibit was the federal government designating a set of religious beliefs to be the only “approved” beliefs, and using those to discriminate against people whose beliefs don’t line up.

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Abortion Trends in America

by Christina Hadford

June 17, 2015

Although recent AP reports that abortion is on the decline shocked many, past studies have well documented this trend. For instance, last June the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) released its Family and Social Trendlines to consolidate federal data on family issues. A series of charts from this report will help contextualize the AP’s findings.

As Chart 1 shows, abortion procurement peaked in the early 90’s and has declined since. In fact, the number of abortions in 2008 was lower than the number of abortions in 1977.

A closer look at abortion demographics in the past two decades reveals the nature of this decline. Chart 2 breaks down the abortion rate by the age of the mother. Between 1990 and 2008:

  • 15- to 17-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 26.5 to 10.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 18- to 19-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 57.9 to 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 20- to 24-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 56.7 to 38.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 25- to 29-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 33.9 to 28.6 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 30- to 34-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 19.7 to 18.4 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 35- to 39-year-olds: Abortions decreased from 10.8 to 10.2 abortions per 1,000 women
  • 40- to 44-year-olds: Abortions increased from 3.2 to 3.4 abortions per 1,000 women

Especially noteworthy is the sharp decline in abortions for teens. For both 15- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 19-year-olds, abortion procurement was cut by more than half. Abortions to 20- to 24-year-olds, the age group obtaining the most abortions, also significantly dropped.

Likewise, the U.S. abortion rate declined for every race/ ethnicity, especially for Blacks and Hispanics (see Chart 3 below). Between 1993 and 2008:

  • The abortion rate among Black unmarried women decreased from 81.2 to 60.9 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The abortion rate among Hispanic unmarried women decreased from 60.6 to 39.3 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The total abortion rate among unmarried women decreased from 43.1 to 30.7 abortions per 1,000 women.
  • The abortion rate among White unmarried women decreased from 33.9 to 22.7 abortions per 1,000 women.

A comparison of Charts 4 and 5 provide a core insight into abortion trends. Between 1990 and 2008, the rate of pregnancies, live births, abortions, and miscarriages to married women remained relatively stable. In other words, married women have not significantly affected abortion rates.

However, that is not the case for unmarried women. In fact, in the early 90’s—around the same time abortion numbers began declining—the ratio of women who gave birth to women who had an abortion swapped. By 1993, more women chose to have their baby than women who chose to abort him/ her. This gap has progressively widened since the early 90’s.

Although the surge of unmarried women who decide to carry their pregnancy to term may not be the only factor affecting abortion numbers, it is certainly a vital demographic trend that cannot be ignored. This trend is not entirely surprising. As FRC expert, Arina Grossu, points out, increased technology, medical knowledge, and social support allows traditionally marginalized women—teenagers, minorities, and those with unintended pregnancies—the choice to give birth. This is, indeed, a profound and momentous advancement for women in America.

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SPLC attack on JONAH, Jewish non-profit that aids in sexual orientation change, goes to trial in New Jersey; Links to coverage here

by Peter Sprigg

June 16, 2015

A shocking attack on the freedom and privacy of the relationship between private counselors and their clients is currently underway in New Jersey. The wealthy left-wing activist group known as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is seeking to destroy a small Jewish non-profit known as JONAH—Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. JONAH’s offense? Referring clients with unwanted same-sex attractions (usually, but not always, Jewish) to counselors who can help them to overcome those attractions and live lives consistent with the biblical teaching of the Torah.

The weapon being used by the SPLC is New Jersey’s unusually draconian “consumer fraud” statute, with SPLC arguing that to claim sexual orientation is changeable and that counseling can help effect such change is inherently fraudulent.

One might think that homosexual activists, who have long demanded respect for their own personal autonomy in making choices about how to respond to their own sexual attractions, would shrug their shoulders and ask, “What’s it to me?” when discussing the fact that for some people, same-sex attractions are experienced as unwanted. However, the fact that some people change their sexual orientation undermines the claim that “sexual orientation” is an immutable characteristic like race—a claim that has been useful to such activists in their campaign to win official public affirmation and celebration of homosexual relationships under the guise of “non-discrimination.”

Instead, a concerted effort to discredit what are called, broadly, “sexual orientation change efforts,” or “SOCE,” has gone from professional organizations like the American Psychological Association to legislative chambers, where California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have already enacted laws to outlaw SOCE for minors by licensed mental health providers. The JONAH lawsuit (which targets SOCE for adults as well as minors, and activity conducted by unlicensed “life coaches” as well as licensed mental health providers) is a second prong of this new legal attack.

Pro-family activist and writer Austin Ruse has provided a valuable service by covering the first two weeks of the JONAH trial for Breitbart.com. Since the secular media shows bias in favor of the plaintiffs, coverage by Ruse (and an article by therapist Christopher Doyle, himself a former homosexual) provide a valuable counterpoint.

Austin Ruse gives a preview of the trial during jury selection in this article: “Powerful Leftist Group Sues to Close Jewish Counseling Service for Gays”

 

Christopher Doyle describes Day 1 of the trial here: Highlights from the JONAH Trial: Day 1

Media Has Already Pronounced Judgment Against JONAH in “Trial of the Century”

 

Ruse reports on Day 2 of the trial, including contradictory statements made by one of the SPLC’s plaintiffs, here: “Trial to Punish Counseling for Gays Underway in Jersey City”

Ruse describes the history of JONAH here: “Medical Choice at Stake in Gay Counseling Trial”

 

Ruse describes death threats received by both JONAH’s co-founder, Arthur Goldberg, and their attorney, Charles LiMandri, in this piece on Day 4 of the trial: “Death Threats Rock Defendants in Gay Counseling Trial”

 

Ruse reports that LiMandri has done an outstanding job in cross-examining the plaintiffs and their witnesses. His organization, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, needs support from freedom-loving Americans of any religion to pay the mounting expense of this drawn-out suit, which began in 2012. For continuing coverage of the trial and to support the defense, go to www.ConscienceDefense.org.

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How will the Senate respond to tragedy?

by Jamie Dangers

June 16, 2015

Is there anything more heart wrenching than an unmarked grave filled with the remains of almost 50 tragically ended lives that no one came to mourn? One man was responsible for all of the deaths represented by this particular grave. None of the victims had any chance of survival against his schemes – if they survived the first attempt, he had a sure fall back plan. This man was eventually caught, tried, and convicted. The rest of his life will be spent paying for theirs.

Two years ago, the remains of babies aborted in Dr. Gosnell’s “house of horrors” were buried in this grave. But while Dr. Gosnell is behind bars, never again to hurt another baby, there are countless other babies being killed daily by excruciatingly painful abortions.

Is it possible that any good could come out of such tragedy, this long nightmare with life and death consequences?

Stories like this reawaken our innate craving for justice in the world. Where were those who could have defended these victims? Why did he get away with it for so long? Why did no one listen when there were rumors of brutality and callousness?

For so many questions, we will never find answers. But there is a question that must be answered, a question that we must participate in answering.

What will we do with this knowledge?

After being graciously given the location of the grave, Reverend Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition led a group to the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Pennsylvania last week to mourn these lost lives, and to make a statement to the world that their lives are worth remembering. A temporary grave marker was erected with this prayer inscribed on it:

May God welcome the souls of these children killed by Kermit Gosnell, and the souls of all children, killed by abortion, into the joy of Heaven.

The day after Rev. Mahoney’s graveside service for these babies, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced S. 1553, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the Senate. The bill prohibits late abortion on babies after 20 weeks post-fertilization on the scientific basis that at this age they can feel intense pain. The identical bill was just passed by the House of Representatives on the second anniversary of the conviction of Dr. Gosnell.

Dr. Gosnell was convicted of first degree murder of 3 babies, as he snipped their spinal cords just after they had been born. Ironically, he aborted countless others at the same age as those three, but because they were just inside their mother’s body, he was not charged with first-degree murder for their deaths. But they felt the same pain as those killed just outside. They were just as alive, and were left just as dead.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prevent these sorts of deaths from occurring routinely in abortion clinics and hospitals all over the country. This bill needs to pass the Senate.

Maybe this horrific story can be redeemed. Maybe people will see the humanity of these unborn, pain-capable children. And maybe we can change the law to protect them.

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