Author archives: Blake Elliott

The NBA Stays Silent on China’s Atrocities While Raking in Billions

by Blake Elliott

August 7, 2020

I grew up playing basketball and have always been a huge fan of the NBA. However, I have recently become extremely disappointed in the NBA and its players for their appalling silence on how the Chinese government is treating Uyghur Muslims.

China’s atrocities against its Uyghur population are nothing new; they have been going on for a while. But the situation has just recently begun to pick up global attention after videos of hundreds of Uyghurs being blindfolded and forced onto trains, presumably to be sent into forced labor and camps, have leaked. This isn’t the only human rights issue on which the NBA has been conspicuously silent; it has a pattern of silence on human rights issues abroad. For example, it has been silent on ESPN’s recent report suggesting that the NBA’s China Academies (located in Xinjiang, where most Uyghurs live) abuse their players. The NBA has also been silent while its business partner, Nike, uses Uyghur forced labor to produce shoes. The NBA’s sudden emphasis on “social justice” issues begs the question: why has the organization been silent for so long, and continues to do so, on human rights violations in China?

There are several likely reasons why the NBA has chosen to remain silent on these issues. One is how much money it makes in China. According to recent reports, around 800 million people in China watch the NBA, and the league earns an estimated $5 billion per year in China. The NBA has also signed a $1.5 billion agreement with a Chinese internet company. There is serious money to be made in China, as it is estimated that nearly 20 percent of the league’s revenue will be coming from the country by 2030.

These figures do not even account for the NBA’s business dealings with Nike. In 2015, the league signed a $1 billion deal with Nike, allowing its logo to be on all NBA uniforms. In addition, nearly 300 players have signed agreements with Nike.

Nike’s ties to China are particularly troubling. It is estimated that the Chinese government has forced at least one million Uyghurs into what are essentially labor and “re-education” camps. Leaked Chinese government orders have shown that these camps are meant to break Uyghur lineage, roots, connections, and origins and essentially eradicate them as a people. It has been reported that survivors were electrocuted, waterboarded, beaten repeatedly, and even injected with unknown substances. These atrocities cannot be denied, yet China continues to force Uyghurs to produce nearly eight million Nike shoes in these camps each year. Clearly, Nike is silent on China’s treatment of Uyghurs because they are cheap labor, allowing them to continue profiting billions of dollars each year.

Some United States senators have been attempting to draw attention to this issue. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) recently had a Twitter exchange with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in which he asked Cuban if he would condemn China’s treatment of Uyghurs. Cuban refrained from condemning China and opted to change the subject. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) also has been advocating for this issue. In May, he cosponsored the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, but even more recently, he sent a letter to the NBA asking how it would protect its players and employees who choose to speak out against the actions of the Chinese government. The NBA responded to Hawley’s letter simply by saying that it was “unable to respond to this hypothetical question” and that it has long held values of “equality, respect, and freedom of expression.”

Perhaps the league’s biggest star, Lebron James, summed the situation up best by stating that players have freedom of speech, but they have to be careful because of the negative impact that can result from speaking out. It is interesting to note that while Lebron claims that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors, was not “educated on the situation at hand,” he is evidently not educated on his own sponsor Nike’s practices or what is going on in China.

Clearly, money is more important to the NBA than speaking out against human rights violations in China. The NBA has set a precedent that no one involved in the organization may criticize China. This was made clear when they silenced Daryl Morey’s attempt to offer support to the Hong Kong protesters, and it continues to be made clear by the organization’s silence on the modern-day atrocities that China is committing. It recently came out that NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, donated the max contribution to Joe Biden’s campaign. One can only hope that Biden would not share Silver’s stance on being silent on these atrocities.

It is essential that people understand the atrocities and human rights violations being committed against the Uyghur Muslims in China. People are being sent to what many have called “concentration camps,” and one former NBA employee compared the atmosphere in Xinjiang to “World War II Germany.” Yet Nike, the NBA, and its players continue to be silent on the issue, doubtlessly due to the income they receive in China. This is wrong, and they need to continue to be held accountable.

Hope in Nebraska: Nebraska Pushes Towards Banning Dismemberment Abortions

by Blake Elliott

July 27, 2020

Last week, Nebraska’s state senators successfully pulled a bill prohibiting dismemberment abortions (LB814) from the Judiciary Committee, allowing the legislature to debate and vote on the bill in the remaining days before they adjourn. The author of the bill, State Senator Suzanne Geist, believes that the majority of Nebraskans will agree with the bill once they learn its details and understand the procedure it seeks to ban.

A dismemberment abortion extracts a living, unborn baby from a mother’s womb, one body part at a time, through the use of clamps, scissors, and tongs. The pro-abortion crowd tends to call these dilation and extraction abortions because most people are against dismembering babies or human beings in general. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, only two states currently have dismemberment abortion bans in effect. Because dismemberment abortions are usually performed later-term, a baby’s skull is typically already calcified and must be crushed before extraction. Afterward, the abortionist must examine the baby’s dismembered body parts to ensure that none are left inside the mother. According to FRC’s issue analysis on dismemberment abortions, dismemberment abortions account for around 96 percent of second-trimester abortions in the United States. This equates to over 75,000 babies a year being ripped to pieces. The majority of Americans would most likely agree with Nebraska State Senator Suzanne Geist that this type of abortion should not be allowed.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist who performed approximately 1200 abortions from 1980-1985 (about 120 were dismemberment abortions), described the gruesome reality of dismemberment abortions, saying you just “[grab] whatever is there. Maybe you rip off a leg, which is about four-inches long,” then “an arm, the spine.” He described how “the skull is the most difficult part” because “sometimes there’s a little face staring up at you.” Levatino also described the necessity of keeping an inventory of the parts; if the abortionist leaves any baby body parts in the woman, she will likely get an infection and potentially die.

Dr. Levatino’s life and career took a turn when he and his wife tragically lost their five-year-old daughter, who was struck by a car. Levatino began to see abortion’s ethical problems, realizing that he was ending the life of someone’s son or daughter every time he performed one. It was at this point that Levatino stopped performing abortions and became a pro-life advocate.

LB814 would ban dismemberment abortions in Nebraska. It also carries penalties for those that perform dismemberment abortions in the second trimester. Violators could be convicted of a Class IV felony, spend up to two years in prison and pay a $10,000 fine. Unsurprisingly, Geist and other supporters of this bill are facing pushback from the liberal American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Scout Richters of the ACLU of Nebraska insists that these senators should be focused on people’s health and healthcare instead of this bill. However, by protecting babies from the brutality of dismemberment abortion, that is precisely what this bill does. Despite what the pro-abortion lobby claims, abortion — including the type that rips living babies into pieces — is not healthcare; it is the exact opposite.

LB814 is expected to be voted on Tuesday, July 28th. It is essential that Nebraska passes this bill banning this heinous act and that other states follow suit. Cornhuskers can click here to make their voices heard.

Idaho Leads the Way in Pursuing Fairness for Women Athletes

by Blake Elliott

April 29, 2020

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) has recently come under fire for signing the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. This common-sense law makes Idaho the first state to protect female athletes’ opportunities to compete (including for scholarships) without going head to head with male athletes who identify as female but retain immense physical advantages. Now, the ACLU is suing to block the law and undermine women’s sports.

In Connecticut, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is representing three high school women facing precisely this problem, after the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference changed its policies to allow men who identify as women to compete in women’s sports. As ADF legal counsel Christiana Holcomb notes, “Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against women in education and athletics, and women fought long and hard to earn the equal athletic opportunities that Title IX provides. Allowing boys to compete in girls’ sports reverses nearly 50 years of advances for women under this law. We shouldn’t force these young women to be spectators in their own sports.”

It’s not just athletic scholarships that are at stake. Sports play a crucial role in the development of young people by helping them build character, learn the value of hard work, and learn how to compete. Sports can bring people together and give a student-athlete the opportunity to be part of something bigger than him or herself.

I grew up in West Texas, and it was common for the whole region to rally in support of high school teams that were excelling. I see it now when 100,000-plus Aggie fans pack into Kyle Field to support Texas A&M football. During these times, peoples’ stances on politics or social issues are put to the side as fans unite to support their team. Sports can help develop life-long friendships and memories.

But in recent times, men who identify as transgender women have begun to dominate women’s sports, both at the amateur and professional levels. According to expert testimony filed with the Connecticut athletic complaint, “…the lifetime best performances of three female Olympic champions in the 400m event—including Team USA’s Sanya Richards-Ross and Allyson Felix—would not match the performances of literally thousands of boys and men, just in 2017 alone, including many who would not be considered top tier male performers.” Dr. Gregory Brown of the University of Nebraska, who provided that expert testimony, has also found that puberty in males creates for a height and body mass difference that gives a significant athletic advantage to males.

Chelsea Mitchell, one of the three Connecticut athletes who filed the ADF complaint, summed it up well by saying that the three athletes are simply asking for a fair chance. It is clear that they’re not getting it: Terry Miller and Adraya Yearwood, the two biologically male athletes at the heart of the lawsuit, have won 15 girls indoor and outdoor state championships since 2017. Just last February, they finished 1st and 2nd in the 55-meter state championship, with Miller breaking the state record. Miller has also set record-breaking times in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, typically blowing other sprinters completely out of the race.

Karissa Niehoff, the executive director of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, spoke about the issues surrounding transgender athletes running with girls by saying, “A lot of people have asked, can you run a separate race, can you put an asterisk next to their name, do something that shows there is a standard that is different from that?” One sports league is trying just that: The Raw Powerlifting Federation is now in the process of creating a transgender division after Mary Gregory, who is a biological male, shattered various women’s weightlifting records. The federation’s president stripped Gregory of the titles and records after “it was revealed that this female lifter was actually a male in the process of becoming a transgender female.” When this story broke, former Great Britain Olympic swimmer Sharon Davies spoke out, tweeting: “This is a trans woman, a male body with male physiology setting a world record & winning a woman’s event in America in powerlifting. A woman with female biology cannot compete… it’s a pointless unfair playing field.”

The Connecticut women are still waiting for justice. Alanna Smith, an athlete in the lawsuit and daughter of MLB Hall of Famer Lee Smith, was a “three-peat” state champion in the 100-meter race in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, setting school and state records. While the 100-meter race was her strong race in middle school, she has recently excelled in the 400-meter race in high school. Despite her past athletic successes and clear potential, she cannot compete and win against the men.

Christiana Holcomb, the attorney representing the girls from Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement: “Having separate boys’ and girls’ sports has always been based on biological differences, not what people believe about their gender, because those differences matter for fair competition. And forcing girls to be spectators in their own sports is completely at odds with Title IX, a federal law designed to create equal opportunities for women in education and athletics.” It is revealing that these issues surrounding transgender athletes in women’s sports are not getting the support of Democrats, like Elizabeth Warren, even as they continue to push for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Rather than making this into a “trans rights” issue, it must be acknowledged that each girl and woman deserves the right to participate in sports knowing that they are competing on a level playing field and that they have an equal opportunity to win. Alanna Smith, Selina Soule, and Chelsea Mitchell are prime examples of female athletes whose athletic opportunities have been sharply curtailed by men’s ability to compete in women’s sports. (There are many more examples.)

Idaho Governor Brad Little should stand firm and stand for women. And the ACLU should be ashamed for seeking to deprive Idaho girls of these opportunities.

Blake Elliott is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

Virginia Is Trying to Make Abortion Less Safe and Keep Women in the Dark

by Blake Elliott

February 6, 2020

The Virginia General Assembly is considering legislation to expand abortion access and repeal life-saving pro-life laws. Radical pro-abortion legislators have been advocating for expanded access to abortion in the fear that Roe v. Wade will soon be overturned. After pro-abortion Democrats gained control of the Virginia General Assembly, they wasted little time in targeting the state’s pro-life laws.

On January 28, 2020, Virginia’s House of Delegates passed House Bill 980, a bill which expands the list of medical professionals who can commit abortions during the first trimester to include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified midwives. This bill also removes the 24-hour waiting period requirement, a requirement that women seeking abortions be given an opportunity to view an ultrasound, and a requirement that medically accurate information regarding the procedure be provided to the woman seeking an abortion.

Not to be outdone by the Virginia House of Delegates last week, the Virginia State Senate passed a companion bill, Senate Bill 733. State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) described the urgency of passing these bills by arguing that existing pro-life laws somehow inhibit women from controlling their bodies and easily ending the baby’s life.

The sad reality is that these bills will do more than expand abortion—they will actually make the procedure even more dangerous. By eliminating the ultrasound requirement, abortions will become more unsafe by removing the crucial step of allowing the physician to clearly see the unborn child in the womb. Furthermore, repealing the requirement that the woman be given medically accurate information opens the door to women being denied critical information about their pregnancies.

In addition, the dangers that come with these bills allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified midwives the ability to commit abortions that they have not been trained to do cannot be ignored. One would think that the Democratic party, who claims to be “pro-woman” and is promoting these bills in the name of “women’s health,” would want certified physicians with training to be the ones committing the abortion, but that is not the case. Instead, they treat abortion as if it were a minor procedure. State Senator Stephen Newman (R-Bedford) emphasized this when he pointed out how “there is no other procedure we deal with that ends the life of another person.” It is crucial that we remember that these procedures don’t just simply kill the baby—they can also be dangerous for the woman.

For pro-lifers, these bills amount to an egregious effort to repeal major pro-life laws on the books in Virginia which have saved countless lives. Delegate Margaret Ransone (R-Westmoreland) gave a powerful testimony in the House as she described the need for these pro-life laws and the dangers of repealing them. She pointed out that no matter what the circumstance is around the pregnancy, a woman seeking abortion deserves information about what will happen during an abortion. Abortions are incredibly traumatic procedures, and women deserve to be given access to as much information as possible about them.

Delegate Ransone described one abortion provider’s description of a chemical abortion, which read similarly to Planned Parenthood’s website. Planned Parenthood describes chemical abortions and how the woman will cramp and bleed tremendously and release “large clumps of tissue.” Not surprisingly, they fail to mention that these large clumps of tissue are actually the unborn child. Wouldn’t one think that a woman would want to be fully informed about a chemical abortion (which is in reality an in-home, do-it-yourself abortion) and the trauma that will come with it? Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Bedford) described House Bill 980 as being “so lax, so casual, that anyone, at any time, almost anywhere can have an abortion performed by just about anybody.” If pro-abortion Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly cared about “reproductive health,” then why do they support deregulating an industry that has hurt women?

Only one Democrat, Delegate Patrick Hope (D-Arlington), spoke on the House floor in favor of House Bill 980. Delegate Hope said that the issue was personal for him because he has three daughters, and he wants his daughters to be able to make their own reproductive health decisions—without all the information necessary to make that decision, apparently. He demanded that his colleagues support this legislation to roll back “medically unnecessary” restrictions on their health care. Delegate Hope apparently believes allowing women access to medical information regarding an abortion somehow “restricts” their health care. What was missing from his comments was any sort of awareness that his daughters, and women in Virginia, will not be able to make the best decision for themselves if they are not given the best possible information.

It is incredibly sad that the Virginia General Assembly decided to pass HB 980 and SB 733. Pro-abortion Democrats value the bottom line of the abortion industry over women’s health. Denying women the ability to access information regarding abortion doesn’t advance women’s health, it hurts it—and it will inevitably lead to more aborted children. It is important that Virginians wake up and see what is happening in their state. Democrats are doing the bidding of the abortion industry, which is further cheapening life and keeping women in the dark.

Fetal Dignity Laws: Respecting the Life That Was Lost

by Blake Elliott

January 29, 2020

There is an urgent need in the United States to institute laws that protect fetal remains in order to protect the dignity of unborn children. This should not be a controversial issue. Yet abortion suppliers such as Planned Parenthood oppose efforts to protect fetal dignity because it would impact their money-making fetal body parts trade.

Abortions, miscarriages, and stillbirths are tragic in their own right, but it is also a tragedy that abortion suppliers are able to sell or dispose of the fetal remains like a piece of trash in certain states while making a profit off of the fetal remains in others. This state of affairs has undoubtedly contributed to an environment where people like Dr. Kermit Gosnell stored fetuses in bags and bottles throughout his office or the disturbing case of the deceased Dr. Ulrich Klopfer, who had 2,246 fetal remains stored in a garage at his home.

In response, FRC has compiled a fetal dignity map which highlights each state’s fetal dignity laws, allowing individuals throughout the country to see just how much work needs to be done in their state in order to respect fetal remains.

Pennsylvania’s House Bill 1890 is a prime example of a fetal dignity bill that should be supported by all, but pro-abortion politicians still find a way to oppose it. This bill requires abortionists to cremate or bury the remains of babies they abort, unless the mother decides they want the remains buried in a place other than the customary health care provider’s location. In this case, the mother would be responsible for the burial or cremation and the cost associated with it. This bill offers a humane response to aborted fetal remains by requiring the burial or cremation of the remains instead of allowing them to be sold, harvested, or used for research.

However, state representatives such as Mary Isaacson, a Democrat representing Philadelphia, oppose this bill by claiming it “harasses abortion providers.” It is evident that Democrats are more concerned with the ability of abortion suppliers to make a profit than they are with women’s health care and the life that was lost.

There is a solid case for Republicans to make in support of fetal dignity laws. For one, the fetal remains would not be allowed to be sold for profit by abortion facilities to make money and continue to grow their business and would instead be required to be buried with dignity.

It also allows for families to grieve properly through the devastation that comes with losing a child to miscarriage. FRC’s Katherine Johnson put it perfectly in her latest analysis: “Women who have miscarriages should be able to receive death certificates that provide validation and dignity to the loss of their children.” Women receiving a death certificate after a miscarriage is an aspect that is often forgotten when discussing fetal dignity laws. It is important that states acknowledge that when a miscarriage happens, a woman and her family has indeed lost a child. Perhaps because of this, not all Democrats are against fetal dignity laws. In fact, 15 Democratic Pennsylvania representatives joined Republicans in supporting the recent PA HB 1890. In a polarized political environment like the one that exists now, this points towards how sensible these fetal dignity laws are. This recent bill is a positive step in the right direction in ensuring that all fetal remains are treated with the respect that every person deserves.

Every deceased human deserves to be treated with respect, including unborn children who unfortunately never had the opportunity to take their first breath. It is truly saddening that abortion suppliers like Planned Parenthood can get away with claiming to help women when in reality they are using women and their babies to make a profit. There is no reason that abortion suppliers should be allowed to dispose of fetal remains like normal people dispose of their trash.

Hopefully, states will follow the Pennsylvania legislature’s lead to ensure that all fetal remains are treated with dignity and all families are given this right to properly bury or cremate their child. Make sure to check out our new fetal dignity map to see if your state protects the dignity of all fetal remains.

California’s Newsom Prioritizes Animal’s Lives Over Babies

by Blake Elliott

January 17, 2020

CC Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr, cropped

Recently, The Sacramento Bee reported that California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced his plan to end animal euthanasia in California, making California a “no-kill state.” The governor’s plan calls for the allocation of $50 million dollars to “achieve the state’s policy goal that no adoptable or treatable dog or cat should be euthanized.”

While ending the practice of euthanizing unwanted or stray animals is indeed a laudable goal, for pro-lifers the hypocrisy of Governor Newsom is hard to miss. While claiming California will become a “no-kill” state for stray or unwanted dogs and cats, Governor Newsom has done nothing to alleviate the elimination of the most innocent and vulnerable Californians: the unborn.

Governor Newsom campaigned on legislation to convert student health clinics on California public university campuses into dispensaries for chemical abortion drugs. The legislature obliged, and he signed into law California Senate Bill 24. This legislation will only add to the tragically high number of abortions in the state. Last year, there were 132,680 abortions in California alone, according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. Rather than being concerned with human life, Governor Newsom is more concerned with expanding abortion rights.

California is undoubtedly one of the more progressive states when it comes to the abortion issue. In fact, there are virtually no restrictions on abortions in California. The state currently adheres to a “viability” standard (the point at which it is generally understood a child can survive outside of the womb with or without the assistance of life support systems) which allows limitless abortion prior to a physician deeming a child in the womb is “viable.” After viability, the state restricts abortion to those instances in which a woman’s life or “health” are threatened. This “health” exception is vague and undefined in state law. In fact, courts have determined that “health” can mean anything. It can mean “familial,” “emotional,” or “mental” health. For all intents and purposes, it means a woman can obtain an abortion up to birth in California.

Newsom has openly boasted about how few restrictions there are on abortion in his state. He even boasted about how proud he was of his state for expanding access and “removing barriers to reproductive health,” as if there were extreme barriers in place to begin with. Newsom makes it no secret that he is pro-abortion and is proud that California leads the United States in the number of abortions performed per year. In May of 2019, he even invited women from across the country and globe to come to California to have their abortion procedure.

Governor Newsom’s hypocrisy continues to be evident as he wants to spend $50 million dollars on an initiative to protect animals while also advocating for and promoting the destruction of the most defenseless and delicate humans in his state: unborn children. Governor Newsom even doubled the investment into reproductive health in his most recent budget proposal, hitting a record $100 million dollars of matching federal funding, which according to Newsom will provide millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

Newsom is a prime example of just how blind the pro-abortion Left is to the simple logic of the pro-life movement. If Newsom doesn’t see the hypocrisy of his support for eliminating animal euthanasia while also expanding abortion rights, then it makes you wonder just how far the pro-abortion Left can go in furthering their radical ideas while turning a blind eye to the atrocity of abortion that is happening right in front of them.

Since 2000, 3,429,978 babies have lost their lives in abortion facilities in California. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that while California might soon become the newest “no-kill state,” they continue to cement themselves as a “kill-state” of unborn children.

Blake Elliott is a Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.

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