Kansas Gov. Brownback: Investigating Planned Parenthood for “Treating the Unborn as Commodities”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 22, 2015

For two decades, in the House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, and now as Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback has stood with conviction and compassion for the unborn and for their mothers, both victimized by a predatory abortion industry. Under his leadership, Kansas has now become the eighth state to address the gruesome videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discuss the marketing of organs from unborn babies aborted late in the term of their pregnancies. Here is an excerpt from Gov. Brownback’s statement:

Kansas remains committed to a culture that respects the dignity of life at all stages. Recent videos show Planned Parenthood employees treating the unborn as commodities as they discuss the sale of tissue and organs. This does not reflect the culture of life most Kansans want.

We now call upon the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to address the issue of sale of tissue and organs from the unborn in its inspections of Kansas medical offices.

Human life has dignity at all stages of life. Senate Bill 95, banning dismemberment abortion in Kansas, prevents the barbaric procedure of dismembering an unborn child.

We must remind ourselves and others that unborn children are just that — children — with certain inalienable rights that we must respect and protect.”

FRC applauds Gov. Brownback, the governors of Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas, and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine for are standing up to the Planned Parenthood behemoth in calling for reviews of Planned Parenthood practices and how they might violate the law.

For a timely, clear analysis, watch FRC President Tony Perkins talking with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly about Planned Parenthood’s practice of harvesting the organs of healthy aborted babies.

ACLU Again Betrays its Support of Individual Freedom

by Travis Weber

July 21, 2015

The ACLU historically has not always opposed religious freedom. The organization did support RFRA in 1993, after all. It has long held itself out as a protector of individual rights, and has done that in a number of areas. However, it continues its now sad and all-too-familiar decline regarding First Amendment Free Exercise rights (and Establishment Clause jurisprudence).

The latest marker of this decline is the organization’s opposition to proposed federal protections (the First Amendment Defense Act or “FADA”) ensuring the government can’t discriminate against people because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Yes, the ACLU is opposing a law protecting individuals from the government — a law which protects both religious and nonreligious people in exercising their beliefs. How did we get here?

While I don’t know all the ins-and-outs of the organization’s internal decision-making, it appears simply to have prioritized sexual liberty (and the individuals rights protections it sees as advancing this liberty) over other rights, including First Amendment religious protections. This is the reason that, in the interval since 1993, the ACLU has developed its concerns about RFRA. Nothing must interfere with sexual liberty, religious or otherwise.

The problem (among others) with this approach is contained in a simple question: What are the limits of this sexual liberty? By holding up such a loosely contoured and ill-defined right above all others, the ACLU (and others with the same aim) ultimately cannot say what these rights to sexual liberty they are protecting will look like in the long term. While the ability to “define and express” one’s “identity” (as the Supreme Court explained in creating a right to same-sex marriage) looks like one thing today, what will it look like tomorrow?

I wish I could say otherwise, but the ACLU is playing with fire as it loses the moorings on which it is able to secure any protection of any constitutional rights. When any rights develop such a nebulous character, they threaten the foundations of other constitutional and civil rights — and ultimately the very foundations and systems supporting these rights. Some of the first casualties are RFRA and First Amendment Free Exercise rights. Now it appears FADA will be thrashed next. And it’s not the last; there will be others. The philosophical assumptions adopted by the ACLU demand further application.

This is why my heart isn’t lifted by the ACLU’s promises regarding FADA:

Despite the claims of some marriage equality opponents, the First Amendment already protects the rights of churches and clergy to decide which unions to solemnize within their faith traditions. Since the founding of our country, no church has been forced to marry any couple in violation of its religious doctrine and that will not change now that same-sex couples can marry. And, the ACLU would be the first to rise in defense of these religious institutions if government ever tried to do that.”

Perhaps so, for now. But such promises can’t be sustained over the long term. The methodology and philosophy adopted (to my dismay) by the ACLU demands it.

Eloquence About Life: Commentary On the Planned Parenthood Video

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 20, 2015

Much has been written about Planned Parenthood’s abort-for-organs video.  That’s encouraging; not to have seen an effusion of outrage, pain, grief, and sheer horror would have been a dreadful commentary on our national hardness.

As Ed Stetzer notes, “progressive” Evangelicals and Mainstream Protestants, usually the first to accuse the pro-life community of caring more about the unborn than (a) their mothers, (b) babies after they are born, or (c) virtually immeasurable cryptosporidium pollution in certain public water shelves (we plead guilty to the last), “have been conspicuously absent, when they’ve spoken up on so many other issues.”

Many who take compassionate, unequivocal, and unashamed stances on the sanctity of unborn life and the predation of the abortion industry on vulnerable women commented with unusual passion and eloquence.  Here are few choice selections:

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, writing in Politico

The true import of the Nucatola video is its casual moral grotesqueness. Manipulating a baby in the womb to kill it in a fashion best suited to selling off its organs is a repellant act, pure and simple … We have long been told how unborn babies are “blobs of tissue” that deserve no moral respect or legal protection. Yet here is an official from the leading abortion provider in the country talking of their livers, lungs and hearts, and of preserving those organs for their value. What Deborah Nucatola describes is the reality of abortion. If you can’t handle it, you can’t handle the truth.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), speaking on the floor of the Senate

… It doesn’t bring me comfort to know that one child is torn apart so that maybe they can do research on the child’s organs to in some future moment help a different child. Not every woman is being asked that her aborted child would be used for research and we really don’t know the whys. Maybe they’re looking for particularly healthy moms. Maybe they’re looking for very mature, healthy babies. Maybe it’s a situation where a particular mom couldn’t afford to have the abortion procedure and so they swap off and say if you can’t afford to have the abortion procedure maybe we can cover the cost by then possibly selling some of these organs then. We don’t know. But I think maybe the question needs to be asked.

Peter Wehner, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Dr. Nucatola adds, “I’d say a lot of people want liver. And for that reason, most providers will do this case under ultrasound guidance, so they’ll know where they’re putting their forceps.” So think about this: Planned Parenthood opposes the use of ultrasounds when their purpose is to reveal the humanity of a child (and in doing so may discourage abortion) – but it supports the use of ultrasounds when the purpose is for selling the body parts of unborn children. After all, how are we going to know which parts of an unborn child to crush without ultrasound guidance?

Albert Mohler, President, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Writing at Cosmopolitan magazine, abortion supporter Robin Marty said that she had seen the video. Then she said, “Now, frankly, I’m just going to yawn.” Maybe she will, but if so that will require a massive act of denial. Later in her own essay she stated: “I shuddered when listening to the discussion of how the fetus can be removed, and the idea of a ‘menu’ of fetal tissue and organs that could be procured depending on the gestational age of the pregnancies being terminated and the number of patients who consent to donating is one I hope I never have to encounter again.”

Once again, which is it?

I give the last word to Briton Timothy Stanley, writing in CNN.com:

What matters about this video is what it appears to reveal about the reality behind America’s sanitized image of abortion; the reality of what an abortion is and how it morally compromises us all … It’s like watching Hannibal Lecter discuss making a human casserole and protesting that all the ingredients were provided willingly … We’ve been too casual for too long about some of the terrible problems that lie around us — be they abortions or the poverty and desperation that can drive women to seek one. The Planned Parenthood video holds up a mirror to a society that has become compromised by horrors that it regards as “every day.” The face of 21st-century America is Nucatola’s: discussing pulverized lungs and hearts between mouthfuls of salad.

Let’s pray for Dr. Nucatola, for Cecile Richards, for all of their Planned Parenthood colleagues, and for the thousands of women looking for help and healing instead of an abortionist’s scalpel and a culture’s grand, cold, deathly lie.

Valley of the Shadow of Death

by Jamie Dangers

July 17, 2015

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

Recently, I listened, sickened, as Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services cavalierly discussed their harvesting and selling of babies’ organs. She ate and drank casually while describing which parts of the babies’ bodies would be crushed by the forceps and which would not, depending on which organ(s) needed to be kept intact in order to be sold. In great detail, she spoke of how babies would be manipulated into the breech position with ultrasound guidance in order to allow certain organs to be removed more easily. The method she described is suspiciously similar to partial birth abortion. Without shame, she stated that while there is a partial birth abortion ban, “Laws are up to interpretation. So if I say on day one I do not intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn’t matter.”

Is this really what we have come to? In America, are we literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death? It certainly feels that way.

I know abortion is not always an easy choice that mothers make. I know sometimes girls and women are there out of desperation. I know sometimes they are pressured into it. I know sometimes they feel like they have no way out. I know sometimes they feel like they have nothing to offer their child in life. And I am so very sorry.

Can we take a step back for a minute? Let’s look at the leaders of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. How did they become so callous as to condone the ripping apart of babies and the selling of their hearts, lungs, livers, and muscles, behind closed doors, in violation of law, not to mention violation of basic human ethics? Surely this latest news is enough to finally convince us that PPFA leadership is not passionate about the empowerment of all women and safe reproductive health. They don’t care about compassion. Why? Because they are changing abortion procedures, not to help the women, but to most successfully harvest organs. But goodness, they sure are passionate about keeping the door wide open on “choice,” because without it, how would they make money? They will do anything and everything, vile and horrific, for profit.

They have been so thoroughly deceived and their consciences so seared that they are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, digging that valley even deeper, and they don’t even acknowledge it. They try to make it appealing and honorable. They try to dress up the horror with words like “research” and “consent” and “high-quality health care.” But no one can put a pretty bow on the dismembered bodies littering this valley floor and make it all ok somehow.

In what world do we discuss the nuances of exactly how much money was spent on which organ and whether it was a donation or reimbursement or payment, in order to make it seem less awful?

This is a culture of death that we cannot afford to ignore. It is our culture. We are right in the middle of it, paying for it with our tax dollars, willingly or unwillingly.

A culture of death is a completely logical culture for anyone who doesn’t value life. While we should be nauseated by the grotesque practices of abortionists behind closed doors, it occurs to me that I should not have been shocked. To them, babies are devoid of human dignity and value, so why not make a profit off of their organs? It’s all about the bottom line anyway. They call it fetal tissue. The truth is, those parts are real organs from unborn children. Organ donors are commendable, but abortionists who profit from the organs of babies who cannot give their consent are deplorable.

Sometimes I wish I could run out of this valley, or at least close my eyes and hold my nose to pretend this doesn’t exist. But the fact is, this is where we are. It’s time to decide what to do. Ignoring it, downplaying it, sterilizing it will only result in allowing death to spread. We cannot ignore this. We cannot pretend it isn’t that bad, or that it will go away. It is that bad, and it won’t go away unless we do something about it.

We must fight with love and compassion but also with incredible resolve. This is a deep and dark valley, yes, but love, truth, and compassion can transform it.  Death can be overcome with life, darkness with light. We can raise this valley and clear it of shadows, allowing light to once again shine on it and purify this blood-stained ground.

We are still in this valley of the shadow of death. But let’s not be wearied or discouraged into accepting it as it is. Let’s be the generation that transforms it. Let’s build a culture that celebrates life!

Social Conservative Review: An Insider’s Guide to Pro-Family News July 16, 2015

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 17, 2015

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review


The events of the past few days have been hard not just for conservatives but everyone with a sense of decency..

We have seen the repulsive video of Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, talking happily about her group’s practice of selling the body parts of late-term, aborted babies. She boasts, “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, (and) liver” of unborn children.

We have seen a growing attack on Christian liberty as some policymakers and advocates of radical sexual autonomy openly ponder churches and religious institutions losing their tax-exempt status.

The good news is that there are brave national leaders working to address these issues. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) gave a moving speech in the Senate today on Planned Parenthood’s brutality, and conscientious Members of Congress like ‎Fred Upton (R-MI) are planning to hold hearings on the organization’s activities.

Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would prohibit any kind of federal penalties against churches or individuals practicing their faith with respect to marriage, was the subject of an address he gave this week here at FRC. The historical case for religious liberty received a powerful review, also this week, at an FRC lecture by distinguished historian Dr. Mark Hall of George Fox University.

And FRC led the successful charge to have the House leadership cancel “a vote … on H.R. 2722, the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin Act, a measure that would have poured up to $4,750,000 into the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a major donor to Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider.” Instead, all of the funding went to non-controversial breast cancer research organization.

The news can be overwhelming. The fight for faith, family, and freedom can be exhausting. And the results are often unpredictable.

But whatever the outcome, unborn children are worth defending, religious liberty is worth sustaining, and prudent, principled political action can make a difference. Maybe not a final or comprehensive difference in the here-and-now, but for Christians, the battle is far more than temporal.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice-President
Family Research Council

P.S. FRC’s Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, the Hon. Ken Blackwell, was featured on C-SPAN on Monday of this week.  Be sure to watch and gain wise counsel from a distinguished Christian statesman.


Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life

Abortion

Bioethics

Obamacare

 

Marriage & Family

Economy and the family

Fatherhood

Homosexuality and Gender Issues

Human Trafficking

Marriage

Pornography

 

Religious Liberty

 

Religion in Public Life

 

Education

Guttmacher’s Proposition: Taxpayer-Funded Condoms and Vasectomies

by Sean Maguire

July 16, 2015

In the latest issue of the Guttmacher Policy Review, the Guttmacher Institute (formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood), proposes some changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) they feel are necessary to accomplish the goals of that law.

             Obamacare contains many provisions we have only found out about since Congress passed it. The most famous (or infamous) of these is the mandate, administered by the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) department, that requires coverage of 18 forms of contraception, including drugs and devices that can kill embryos.  These are to be funded by taxpayer dollars and included in plans provided by businesses and organizations despite any moral objections they might have.

            Guttmacher is not satisfied with this arrangement. No, it’s not upset that the American people are being forced to pay for potentially embryocidal drugs and devices.  Guttmacher is upset because the HHS mandate hasn’t gone far enough. They are pushing for the mandate to include male sterilization and condoms, all funded by taxpayer money.

            Instead of recognizing the failure of Obamacare to accomplish real healthcare access for the American people, Guttmacher is calling for an expansion of coverage morally unacceptable to tens of millions of taxpayers. They are calling for the implementation of regulations which will mandate insurance coverage of condoms and vasectomies for everyone.

            Guttmacher wants tax dollars to be spent on condoms and vasectomies so that sexual license will not be impeded by a lack of funding or fear of the logical outcome of sexual intimacy: babies. While Guttmacher says it wants the federal government to stay out of the bedroom, they simultaneously demand federal funding of the activities therein.

            It is not the job of the American taxpayer to fund others’ sexual practices, and they should not be forced to do so.

Obergefell Prompts Instant, Unflinching Resistance in the True Church Reaction of Tenth Presbyterian (Philadelphia)

by Chris Gacek

July 14, 2015

The Supreme Court’s decree in Obergefell v. Hodges redefining marriage was marked by a smug, self-satisfied “we know best” attitude. That must be obvious because one does not overturn the public policy choices of tens of millions of voters and millennia of human experience without being arrogant. That said, Obergefell has another dimension to it: there is the unspoken assumption that after the Supreme Court speaks those who object to its decision will roll over and submit.

In the vast majority of cases that would be true. In this instance, however, the Supreme Court has badly misjudged the situation because its edict explicitly contradicts the teaching of the Church on matters of the definition of marriage and the dual nature of human sexuality (male/female complementarity). These are not negotiable positions. The press trumpets announcements from every wayward church but ignores the real story.

The real story is that orthodox churches have almost instantly discerned the severity of the situation but have not retreated an inch in refusing to accept the redefinition of marriage. Here is one example.

Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia (“Tenth”) is a significant church in the history of American Protestantism in the last one-hundred years. Truly major figures including Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, and Philip G. Ryken have been the senior ministers there. On July 2, 2015, the current senior minister, Liam Goligher, wrote a pastoral letter to the congregation about the Obergefell Supreme Court decision.

It is a powerful letter that minces no words and leaves no door open for accommodation:

The world is hostile to God and its institutions eventually reflect the widespread rejection of his law— [a] “mystery of lawlessness” is at work and we have already seen this in the abortion horror that has swept away the lives of millions of American children, and we see this daily in our own instinct to do things our own way. Perhaps an even greater evil was perpetrated in the redefinition of “freedom” as each individual having the freedom to pursue their own vision of happiness no matter its impact on others. That irrational view is likely to come back to bite us. SCOTUS may have had its say for now but there is a higher court and a greater judge before whom they and we must one day stand. The law of God does not rely on any human court or cultural consensus for its legitimacy.

Pastor Goligher added, “Marriage between a man and a woman was [God’s] idea—it perfectly expresses unity in diversity—and it remains the revealed setting for the continuation of our race; the best context for the raising of our children; and the sure foundation of a sane society.”

The Tenth will not be retreating – like myriad other churches across the nation. Is this really the fight the Supreme Court wants? I guess so.

Justice Kennedy and the Lonely Promethean Man of Liberalism

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 9, 2015

In The Public Discourse, David Azerrad, director of the Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, has written the best analysis of the underlying philosophy of Justice Kennedy’s opinion I have yet read. It is penetrating, eloquent, and compelling. The full text follows.

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2015/07/15286/

Justice Kennedy and the Lonely Promethean Man of Liberalism

by David Azerrad

July 8th, 2015

Conjured as it was from Justice Kennedy’s imagination, the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges has little to teach us about the Constitution. It does, however, afford us keen insights into the liberal worldview. In the opinion, it is less Anthony Kennedy the Supreme Court Justice than Anthony Kennedy the aspiring liberal political theorist who speaks.

Woven throughout his musings on the dynamic synergies between the various clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment is the central premise of modern liberalism: individual autonomy. It is the very first argument that the Court offers on behalf of the newfound constitutional right to same-sex marriage.

Indeed, in the opening sentence of the decision, Kennedy proclaims all individuals free “to define and express their identity,” thereby echoing his even more grandiloquent pronouncement in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that at “the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

On this foundation, the edifice of modern liberalism is built. We are all sovereign individuals, radically free to fashion and refashion ourselves into anything we so please at any point in our lives. Man is the undefined animal. He is auto nomos—self-legislating. Neither God, nor nature, nor tradition, nor the obligations he previously contracted may hem him in. Bruce Jenner may become Caitlyn whenever she so pleases—and then become Bruce again if he wants.

Beyond the rudimentary demands of refraining from harming others, nothing may constrain the choices we make in defining and redefining our identity. This is democratized, domesticated Nietzscheanism. Prometheus not fully unbound—just mindful of the rights of others. This, it should be pointed out, is also the starting-point of libertarianism—but also its end point. Not so for liberalism.

Loneliness, Insecurity, and the Need for Recognition

 

Liberalism’s exalted view of man’s limitless possibilities, paradoxically enough, is not accompanied by an equally exalted view of his inner strength and resolve. One might think that liberalism would encourage individuals to trust in themselves and to be scornful of society’s staid bourgeois conventions in defining and expressing their identity.

It doesn’t. For all his purported god-like powers of self-creation, liberal promethean man is actually a weak, insecure, and isolated individual. It is not enough that he define and express his identity. He needs others to recognize it, embrace it, and celebrate it. He needs the state to confer dignity upon it.

Otherwise, he may find himself marginalized by his peers, crippled by their disapproving looks, and insecure in his choice of an identity. After all, a particular lifestyle or living arrangement may not be illegal, but it can still be viewed as dishonorable by some. Even before the Court’s ruling, gay couples could marry in a house of worship or banquet hall in any of the states that still defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. But they carried the lack of state recognition for their marriages like the mark of Cain.

Outlaw to outcast may be a step forward, but it does not achieve the full promise of liberty, ” explains Kennedy. The Court’s opinion is replete with references to stigma, hurt, and humiliation. “It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society.” It is therefore incumbent upon the state to dignify them. As Matthew Franck wrote in Public Discourse last week: “In Kennedy’s mind, the Constitution has been converted into a great Dignity Document.”

An earlier generation of liberals would have told the man to go to hell with his marriage certificate. “We don’t need no thought control,” they would have yelled. “All in all you’re just another brick in the wall!” To have the suits recognize your alternative lifestyle would have defeated the whole purpose of embracing it in the first place.

Contemporary liberalism, by contrast, views man as a weak and fragile creature. Adversity doesn’t forge character. It stigmatizes and demeans. Unless others affirm our choices, they are worthless. We have no unshakable inner convictions or faith. We are all insecure.

Promethean man, it turns out, is a pathetic creature. He thinks himself the measure of all things, but must in fact have his solipsistic existence be publicly affirmed and dignified by the state. He is simultaneously everything and nothing.

Kennedy’s Feigned Appeal to Nature

Liberalism’s celebration of human autonomy is obviously incompatible with any conception of an unchosen nature that restricts our scope of action. Nevertheless, Kennedy twice appeals to the idea of a permanent nature in the decision. Homosexuals have an “immutable nature,” he asserts. They are born gay and cannot change. So are heterosexuals, bisexuals, and all other flavor-du-jour-sexuals for that matter: “sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.”

The essence of liberty is the freedom to define and express one’s identity, just not when it comes to sexual orientation, which is innate and immutable. We can choose our gender—that is not fixed at birth—but our sexual orientation is handed down to us by the gods and must be accepted with passive resignation (for a contrasting view, see this Public Discourse essay by Paul McHugh and Gerard Bradley).

Turning to marriage, Kennedy implicitly carves out another exception to the realm of autonomy. Marriage, though clearly not possessing a permanent nature, is nevertheless “essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations.” This implies that happiness outside of marriage is not possible. No one will be forced to get married—but all who aspire to be happy (and who doesn’t?) will want to. Marriage is no longer what earlier liberals called an “obscene bourgeois institution” or “a comfortable concentration camp.”

Only marriage can respond “to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there,” writes Kennedy. Not to marry is to “be condemned to live in loneliness.” Lovers, friends, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, neighbors, coreligionists, brothers-in-arm, colleagues—none of them can be counted on to respond to our lonely cries of anguish. All bachelors are not only unmarried—they’re also unhappy.

All this adds up to a really interesting coincidence. In deliberating on the question of gay marriage, Justice Kennedy proclaims that we are absolutely free to be who we want to be—except when it comes to gayness and marriage.

Only Kennedy’s syllogism trumps autonomy:

1. Everyone has a right to pursue happiness.

2. No happiness is possible outside of marriage.

3. Sexual orientation being immutable, gay marriage is therefore a right.

Either Kennedy is a sloppy thinker who hasn’t thought through the implications of the autonomy he celebrates, or this is a calculated move on his behalf to elicit public support for his pronouncement by bending his argument to appeal to two widespread beliefs: people are not responsible for their genes, and marriage is good.

Either way, this is not a rigorous argument. But it is fitting that a decision that reveals the contradictions of modern liberalism should also reveal the contradictions of Kennedy’s arguments.

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