Author archives: Connor Semelsberger

Trump’s Office of Civil Rights is Becoming a Beacon of Freedom for the American People

by Connor Semelsberger

December 5, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has once again taken action to protect Americans, this time from disability discrimination. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) initiated an investigation into the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) upon learning that two small children were removed from a mother and father simply because the mother and father had a disability. The children were removed shortly after their birth based on the assumption that the parents would not have the ability to care for the children because of their disability, stripping away their parental rights.

Since the Oregon policy assumed from the children’s birth that a disability prevented the parents from caring for their children, they had to undergo psychological evaluations and participate in parenting classes to prove that they were fit to be parents. Thanks to a local county circuit court dismissing the neglect petition, the parents were finally able to be reunified with their children. If the county court had not stepped in, the Oregon Health Department would not have reunited the family.

These actions prompted OCR to convey major concerns to ODHS with how policies to prevent discrimination against parents with disabilities were being implemented in Oregon. Fortunately, the Oregon health department agreed to comply with federal disability rights laws and update its policies and procedures to create a new disability rights training plan. It is very unfortunate that these parents in Oregon had to go four years without custody of their eldest child simply because state officials decided their disability prevented them from being proper parents without any evidence to prove so. Thankfully, the Office of Civil Rights at HHS investigated this case and worked with the state of Oregon to make systemic changes to their child custody policies so that future parents with disabilities will not have their parental rights taken away.

From enforcing conscience protections for nurses who object to performing abortions, to preventing further sexual abuse at Michigan State University, this is just another example of how President Trump’s HHS has followed through with enforcing all federal anti-discrimination laws, not just ones that fit into his political agenda. An administration should not get to pick and choose which civil rights laws to enforce, but unfortunately there are many federal civil rights laws that are not prioritized and are even forgotten due to political reasons. For example, in 2011, the Obama administration issued new regulations to limit the number of federal conscience protection laws that would be enforced by HHS to only three. This is in stark contrast with a new Trump administration regulation currently pending in the courts to enforce 25 existing conscience protection laws.

Protecting Americans from all types of discrimination has been a priority of the Trump administration from the beginning. Examples like this parental rights case demonstrate that if someone who believes they have been discriminated against files a complaint with OCR, the administration will follow the appropriate civil rights laws and take all complaints seriously.

Life-Affirming Title X Recipients Will Now Receive Even More Funding Thanks in Part to Planned Parenthood

by Connor Semelsberger

October 1, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Protect Life Rule, which separates abortion activities from federally-funded family planning clinics, is currently in effect, as further court proceedings play out in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In response to this rule, Planned Parenthood and several pro-abortion states decided that performing abortions is more important than providing family planning services to underserved women when they voluntarily withdrew from the Title X Program on August 19th.

This week, HHS announced that $33.6 million of the funding forfeited by pro-abortion grantees will now be awarded to 50 current Title X grantees that do not promote abortion as a method of family planning.

This supplemental funding will enable current grantees to better meet the family planning needs of underserved women across America. Contrary to what opponents of the Protect Life Rule claim, Title X patient coverage will not suffer. Clinics like Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Centers (RHCs), which do not promote or perform abortions, will now be able to provide high-quality and affordable family planning services to even more women and families in need than they did before.

Here is the list of Planned Parenthood entities and pro-abortion states that chose to reject millions of dollars in federal funding rather than stop referring patients for abortion:

Grantees Voluntarily Terminated

  • AK     Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest & Hawaiian Islands
  • CT     Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
  • ID     Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest & Hawaiian Islands
  • IL     Illinois Department of Health
  • IL     Planned Parenthood of Illinois
  • MA     Health Imperatives Inc.
  • MA     Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • MD     Maryland Department of Health
  • ME     Family Planning Association of Maine Inc.
  • MN     Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota
  • NH     Planned Parenthood of Northern New England
  • NY     Public Health Solutions
  • NY     New York Department of Health
  • OH     Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio
  • OR     Oregon Health Authority
  • UT     Planned Parenthood Association of Utah
  • VT     Vermont Agency of Human Services
  • WA     Washington State Department of Health

Grantees Receiving Supplemental Award

  • AL     Alabama Department of Public Health
  • AR     Arkansas Department of Health
  • AZ     Arizona Family Health Partnership
  • CO     Colorado Department of Public Health
  • CT     Cornell Scott-Hill Health Corporation
  • DC     Unity Health Care Inc.
  • DE     Delaware State Department of Health
  • FL     Primary Care Medical Services of Poinciana Inc.
  • FL     Community Health Centers of Pinellas Inc.
  • GA     Neighborhood Improvement Project Inc.
  • GA     Family Health Centers of Georgia Inc.
  • IA     Family Planning Council of Iowa
  • ID     Idaho Department of Health & Welfare
  • IL     Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness Inc.
  • IN     Indiana Family Health Council Inc.
  • KS     Kansas Department of Health & Environment
  • KY     Kentucky Cabinet for Health & Family Services
  • MA     Action for Boston Community Development Inc.
  • MD     The Community Clinic Inc.
  • MS     Mississippi State Department of Health
  • MN     Ramsey County
  • MT     Montana Department of Public Health
  • ND     North Dakota Department of Health
  • NE     Family Planning Council of Nebraska
  • NM     New Mexico Department of Health
  • NV     Nevada Primary Care Association
  • NV     City of Carson City
  • NV     Washoe County
  • NV     Southern Nevada Health District
  • NY     The Floating Hospital Inc.
  • OH     Ohio Department of Health
  • OK     Community Health Connection Inc.
  • OK     Oklahoma Department of Health
  • PA     AccessMatters
  • PA     Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania Inc.
  • PA     Maternal and Family Health Services Inc.
  • PA     Adagio Health Inc.
  • RI     Rhode Island Department of Health
  • SC     South Carolina State Department of Health
  • SD     South Dakota Department of Health
  • TN     Tennessee Department of Health
  • TR     FSM Department of Health & Social Affairs
  • TR     Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
  • TR     Family Planning Association of Puerto Rico
  • TR     American Samoa Medical Center Authority
  • TX     Women’s Health and Family Planning Association of Texas
  • TX     City of El Paso
  • WI     Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • WV     West Virginia Department of HHS
  • WY     Wyoming Health Council

You may find more information about the Title X program here.

Vermont Nurse Forced to Participate in an Abortion Despite a Conscience Objection

by Connor Semelsberger

August 28, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that they are issuing a violation notice to the University of Vermont Medical Center (UVMMC) because they forced a nurse to participate in an abortion despite a conscience objection.

In 2017, UVMMC (located in Burlington, Vt.) began performing abortions on site without notifying their employees. A nurse had expressed objection to assisting in abortions for many years, and was even included on a list of staff with objections. However, UVMMC purposefully assigned the nurse to assist in an abortion despite her objection to the horrific procedure. The nurse did not know that the procedure was an abortion until the nurse walked into the operating room and the abortionist said, “Don’t hate me.” The nurse then objected to assisting in the abortion. There were other staff on site who could have assisted with the abortion, but UVMMC forced the nurse to participate in the abortion or be subject to discipline that could include loss of licensure. In the end, the nurse decided to participate over fear of harsh retaliation by the health center.

Choosing between your sincerely-held religious or moral beliefs and your career is a decision that no health professional should have to make. When someone is pressured to violate their conscience or lose their livelihood, it leaves the health care provider in a situation that creates great emotional and spiritual turmoil. Even though abortion has been legal in America for over 40 years, our federal laws have fortunately protected the conscience rights of health care providers. In the 1970s, the Church Amendments were enacted to protect the conscience rights of individuals and entities that object to performing or assisting in the performance of abortion or sterilization if it would be contrary to the providers’ religious or moral convictions.

On May 9, 2018, the nurse from Vermont filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) at HHS. HHS responded by fulfilling their duties to enforce the Church Amendments and launched an investigation into the complaint, contacting UVMMC to seek cooperation, but the hospital refused to conform its policies to the law and would not produce witnesses to be interviewed about this incident. Now, UVMMC has 30 days to notify HHS that they will change their current policies that force staff to participate in abortions and take steps to remedy the effects of their past actions. If they do not comply in this timeframe, they could be barred from the $1.6 million in federal funding they received.

This is now the third conscience compliant that OCR has investigated since President Trump took office. The other complaints dealt with the states of California and Hawaii forcing pregnancy resource centers to post materials that advertise for abortion. Because of action by OCR, both complaints have been resolved. The enforcement of these conscience protections is yet another example of how the Trump administration has followed through in protecting life, conscience, and religious liberty. These enforcement actions should encourage health care providers who feel like their employer is coercing them to participate in an abortion to file a complaint with OCR, for as we see above, the Trump administration will certainly enforce our conscience laws and defend their rights.

Planned Parenthood Forgoes Title X Funding, Choosing Abortion over Women’s Healthcare

by Connor Semelsberger

August 19, 2019

Today, Planned Parenthood officially withdrew from the Title X Family Planning Program, choosing to reject millions of dollars in federal funding rather than stopping referrals for abortion. This announcement came after their fifth failed attempt to find a court that would block the Protect Life Rule from going into effect while litigation over the legality of the rule continues. Ultimately, this shows the upside-down world of Planned Parenthood, in which abortion is prioritized more than women’s care.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the Protect Life Rule to require physical separation between clinics that receive Title X federal funds for family planning services and facilities that perform abortions. It would also prohibit physicians at Title X family planning clinics from referring patients for abortions.

After five months of mudslinging, Planned Parenthood is out of legal ammunition, and the Protect Life Rule is still squeaky clean. HHS has now won before numerous federal courts – a federal district court in Maine, a panel of the 4th Circuit, and two panels in the 9th Circuit. The last straw came on Friday, when not a single judge on the infamously liberal 9th Circuit was willing to block the Protect Life Rule. In other words, Planned Parenthood’s favorite court sent their lawyers home with their tails between their legs. This decision by the 9th Circuit allows HHS to begin enforcing the Protect Life Rule while the merits of the case are litigated.

Soon after the 9th Circuit lifted the nationwide injunction blocking the Protect Life Rule, HHS announced that all grantees that seek to comply in good faith must certify by August 19th that they do not provide abortions and do not include abortion as a method of family planning.

Yet rather than comply, Planned Parenthood backed out of the family planning program altogether. With their decision to withdraw, Planned Parenthood is sacrificing $16,120,000 in direct Title X grants, in addition to the millions more they receive as subgrantees of Title X funds.

Planned Parenthood and the mainstream media are already trying to spin the Protect Life Rule as a “gag rule” that is “forcing” Planned Parenthood out of a federal program that they have participated in for 50 years, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Despite Planned Parenthood’s loud protestations, The Protect Life Rule does not ban physicians from discussing abortion with their patients. The rule does prohibit physicians from referring patients for abortions, but it permits doctors to provide non-directive counseling on the risks and benefits of all options, including abortion.

Planned Parenthood has had every opportunity to comply with the new rules regulating the Title X program. HHS provided proper guidance and would have assigned them a project officer to help them comply with the regulations. Despite all this, Planned Parenthood chose abortion over helping provide family planning services to their clients. The organization touts itself as a leading women’s health provider, but Planned Parenthood turned their back on the needs of women when they opted to forego millions of dollars to fund critical family planning services so that they could keep promoting abortions.

The Title X statute is clear, “None of the funds appropriated under this act shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” The Protect Life Rule does nothing more than fully enforce the Title X program as it was written into law. No matter what Planned Parenthood and other abortion advocates say, the Title X program was never intended to subsidize an industry that finds value in ending innocent human life.

Aside from harming the many women Planned Parenthood will no longer be able to serve, the main outcome of this decision is to make clear what Planned Parenthood’s true priority is: abortion.

Planned Parenthood Rejects Title X and Proves Their Bottom Line Is Abortions

by Patrina Mosley , Connor Semelsberger

July 22, 2019

As a result of the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit lifting a preliminary injunction on the Protect Life Rule, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced they will begin enforcing new regulations governing the Title X Family Planning Program. In response Planned Parenthood, as well as several states and other abortion providers, have decided to withdraw from the program rather than comply with the new regulations.

This marks the first time that Congress has ever been able to successfully shift domestic federal family planning funds away from abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. The response from Planned Parenthood and others shows that they have only one thing on their mind—abortion. Even though these new regulations mandate that clinics provide non-directive counseling for women on all options when faced with a pregnancy—including abortion—they still refuse to comply.

The refusal of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to abide by federal laws regarding the separation between federal tax dollars and abortion is nothing new. This withdrawal is very similar to when in the early days of his presidency, President Donald Trump instituted the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA) which ensures taxpayer dollars are not used for abortions overseas. Instead of abiding by the requirement that grantees are not allowed to promote or perform abortions, the International Planned Parenthood Federation became one of only four grantees that perform abortions to back out of the program over the policy change.

In 2017, President Trump even made an offer to then Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards that her organization could continue to receive federal funds as long as they committed to no longer performing abortions, and she responded with this: “Planned Parenthood is proud to provide abortion—a necessary service that’s as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings.”

If Planned Parenthood truly cared about offering women the other “care” services they claim to provide, they would have had no problem complying. But their refusal to receive grant money to “care” for women by providing other services besides abortion only goes to show that abortion is their bottom line—not the “3 percent” like they claim.

Abortions from Planned Parenthood have increased while their “other services” have consistently decreased. From 2009 to 2014, breast exams at Planned Parenthood dropped by over half (56 percent), cancer screening and prevention programs at Planned Parenthood consistently decreased and dropped by close to two-thirds (63 percent), and prenatal services steadily decreased and dropped by more than half (57 percent). Planned Parenthood performs 18 times more abortions than the prenatal services it provides. Moreover, according to Planned Parenthood’s 2016-2017 report, out of total services for pregnant women (adoption referrals, prenatal services, abortion), abortion made up over 97 percent.

As of late, newly fired Planned Parenthood President Leana Wen alluded to the fact that her and the Planned Parenthood Board of Director’s philosophy dissected at abortion versus being a robust healthcare entity. The Board wanted abortions and abortion advocacy to be what drives the organization.

This goal is reflected in the fact that Planned Parenthood currently operates over half of all abortion facilitates in the U.S.

For far too long, Title X funds have been entangled with the abortion industry—particularly with Planned Parenthood who received nearly $60 million, all while the authorizing statutory language made it clear that the Title X family planning program must be separate from abortion.

Planned Parenthood has proven itself to be unfaithful with Title X anyways. In order to receive these annual grants, Planned Parenthood and other organizations are expected to comply with state mandatory reporting laws. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly been caught failing to report statutory rape and sex abuse, aiding and abetting sex trafficking, and performing services that it knows are dangerous and low-quality, killing young women such as Tonya Reaves and Cree Erwin.

The new Title X regulations not only enforces the physical separation of Title X activities and abortion centers but it also strengthens the enforcement of Title X recipients’ to be in compliance with mandatory reporting requirements and parental notification laws.

We are thankful Planned Parenthood has decided not to comply with the Protect Life Rule. This disentangles taxpayer dollars with the abortion business, keeps the integrity of the Title X program in place, and frees up resources to go to the other federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and pregnancy resource centers that both outnumber abortion facilities and provide true comprehensive care for women.

It is high time for Planned Parenthood to get out of the family planning business anyway.

Abortion is not healthcare, nor is it family planning.

Court Rulings on the Protect Life Rule Leave Abortion Advocates Stunned

by Connor Semelsberger , Mary Jayne Caum

July 15, 2019

Across the United States, courts tasked with hearing the lawsuits against the Trump administration’s pro-life rule changes to the Title X Family Planning Program agree, “the Government is likely to prevail.”

When the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the Protect Life Rule, pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood lost no time in filing lawsuits to halt the Rule’s implementation. Believing they would be assigned a favorable judge, opponents of the Rule filed suit in the Ninth Circuit and other friendly courts. Although opponents obtained an advantageous ruling at the district court level, ultimately a three-judge panel in both the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (9th Circuit) and the Fourth Circuit (4th Circuit) decided to lift the preliminary injunctions and allow the Rule to be implemented temporarily. Opponents of the Rule suffered another failure when an 11-judge panel sitting en banc in the 9th Circuit reiterated that the Rule should be implemented while the merits of the case are heard. Lastly, a district judge in Maine refused to halt the Rule’s implementation while the merits of the case are litigated. That totals four devastating and seemingly unexpected adverse rulings opponents of the Protect Life Rule have suffered thus far. 

In each Court Opinion, the various courts explain the Protect Life Rule should go into effect during the lawsuit, because HHS will likely prevail in defending the Rule. This legal conclusion is reached for primarily two reasons: precedent and statutory interpretation. The Supreme Court Decision Rust v. Sullivan upheld regulations nearly identical to the Protect Life Rule. Additionally, the Rule adheres to applicable statutes. Therefore, courts across the nation conclude that HHS is likely to succeed on the merits because of the precedent established by Rust and the Rule’s lawful adherence to statutory law. An issue brief published by Family Research Council has further information on the legal arguments surrounding Title X. 

These legal proclamations are devastating for pro-abortion groups because it undermines a significant portion of their industry. The clear separation that the Protect Life Rule establishes between family planning funding and the abortion industry is contrary to their worldview. If the Protect Life Rule is ultimately upheld, abortion providers must adhere to the regulations in order to continue receiving Title X funds. If abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood refuse to comply, however, those Title X family planning funds can be diverted to other healthcare clinics such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Centers, and Pregnancy Resource Centers which provide certain services that would be eligible for Title X funding under the Protect Life Rule

Since taking office, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Senate have worked together to confirm 127 federal judges. Several of these judges were vital to lifting the preliminary injunction against the Protect Life Rule, including two in the 9th Circuit, two in the 4th Circuit, and one in the United States District Court for the District of Maine. The ability of President Trump and the U.S. Senate to confirm constitutionally-minded judges shows that elections have consequences and that victory in the courts is crucial.

Without a favorable ruling on the merits, abortion referrals will continue, co-mingling of funds will perpetuate, and precious babies developing in the womb will perish. Courts must continue to discard the shallow political arguments opponents of the Rule are making and choose to uphold the law. The survival of countless lives depends upon future legal victories. 

Mary Jayne Caum is a Policy intern at Family Research Council. Connor Semelsberger is Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Minnesota Reports 3 Born-Alive Babies in 2018

by Patrina Mosley , Connor Semelsberger

July 3, 2019

Think babies aren’t being born alive after surviving an abortion attempt? Think again. From January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, three babies in Minnesota survived abortions but later died, according to a new Minnesota state Department of Health report.

Since 2015, Minnesota has been keeping track of abortion survivors since the states’ passage of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. The law recognizes infants who survive abortions as human persons and requires that they be provided with reasonable medical care. The law also requires information to be collected on the medical actions taken to preserve the life of the infant, whether the infant survived, and the status of a surviving infant.

Since the law went into effect, Minnesota has reported 11 babies surviving abortions:

  • five babies in 2016
  • three babies in 2017
  • three babies in 2018

Laws to require the collection of data on born-alive victims should be encouraged in all states. There are only six states that require reporting on babies born alive during abortion procedures: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas. As of 2017, only Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma have reported this information.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control report at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014 in the U.S. The CDC took this data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) Mortality Data in regard to infant deaths. These numbers are different from the number collected by the states that report born-alive infants.

As a response to the lack of reporting on abortion and abortion survivors, U.S. Representatives Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) recently introduced The Ensuring Accurate and Complete Abortion Data Reporting Act of 2019 (H.R. 3580). This bill would require all states to submit abortion data, including the number of children who survive abortions, in order to receive Medicaid funds for family planning services.

The CDC already requests abortion reporting from states. However, the reporting of this information is voluntary, which allows states to leave out certain statistics or opt out altogether. Because there are only six states that require reporting on children who survive abortions, it is vital that the U.S. Congress passes this bill so that the American people know how many innocent lives are lost because of the failure to provide life-saving care to the most vulnerable.

Efforts to protect infants who survive abortion has not been limited to gathering a few data points, as Members of Congress continue to fight for a vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962) which would require life-saving medical care for children born alive after abortion attempts. So far, Republicans have asked for unanimous consent to vote on this bill 67 times, and every single time Democrat leaders have said no.

Sometimes, a small symbol of humanity is all it takes to change the mind of our government officials. There is no better sign of the humanity of children who survive abortions then the soft, warm feel of the colorful baby hat given to newborns at hospitals, just like the ones in our End Birth Day Abortions Campaign. Every child deserves to wear a new baby hat, especially the three children who survived abortion attempts in Minnesota last year.

Pro-Life Title X Rule Upheld, For Now

by Connor Semelsberger , Mary Jayne Caum

June 21, 2019

On a recent humid June day in the nation’s capital, the debate over President Donald Trump’s Protect Life Rule governing the Title X Family Planning Program heated up. Led by Chairwoman Diane Degette (D-Colo.), the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing to promote the continued relationship between these family planning funds and the abortion industry. Dr. Diane Foley from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defended the Protect Life Rule against attacks that this rule change will limit a woman’s ability to receive proper family planning services, by ensuring that doctors can continue to provide non-directive counseling on all healthcare options as the statute lays out.

As a key pro-life issue for the Family Research Council, we submitted a letter to the record outlining specifically how this final rule draws a clear line between family planning funds and the abortion industry without reducing the quality of care for each patient.

Dr. Foley went even further to say that the Protect Life Rule will provide a broader array of family planning services by encouraging innovative approaches for care in rural communities and removing the abortion referral requirement, thus allowing faith-based providers to apply for Title X grants, as outlined in our brief on the Protect Life Rule. Although Dr. Foley continually reminded the subcommittee that the Title X statute specifically states abortion cannot be used as a method of family planning, Democrat Members could only see the issue through the lens of abortion access. Rep. Jan Schakowky (D-Ill.) put it most bluntly when she said, “This is about abortion, this is about trying to limit women from having their full reproductive rights.”

Within 24 hours of the subcommittee hearing on Title X, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit granted HHS’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction, which would allow the Protect Life Rule to go into effect until the lawsuit is resolved. While this Order does not decide the fate of the Protect Life Rule, the Court’s Order was encouraging. Typically, the 9th Circuit has been critical of the Trump administration’s policies. As exemplified by the lower courts granting preliminary injunctions to halt the implementation of the Protect Life Rule, courts will often ignore the law to advance a political agenda.

Surprisingly, the 9th Circuit lifted the nationwide preliminary injunction and insisted that delaying the implementation of the Protect Life Rule would be detrimental to both HHS and the American public. Listening to the concerns expressed by HHS, the Court feared that if the preliminary injunctions remained in place, the law would be violated and taxpayer money would fund abortions. Moreover, the Court concluded that HHS would likely be victorious in this lawsuit.

Additionally, the Court reaffirmed the validity of Rust v. Sullivan (a Supreme Court case which upheld regulations nearly identical to the Protect Life Rule). Furthermore, the Court emphasized that the restrictions on abortion referrals does not violate the non-directive counseling requirement. Although Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to claim the Protect Life Rule violates existing law, the Order from the 9th Circuit states otherwise. Hopefully, this temporary win for the Protect Life Rule will be a sign of what is to come from the ongoing legal battle.

Connor Semelsberger is Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council. Mary Jayne Caum is a Policy intern at Family Research Council.

House Democrats are Allergic to the Truth When it Comes to Pro-Family Policies

by Connor Semelsberger

May 9, 2019

Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee marked up a bill that will funds large federal health programs like the Title X Family Planning Program, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in her opening statement was quick to attack the Trump administration’s recent Protect Life Rule which would ensure separation between abortion clinics and family planning services in the Title X program. She concluded that this rule attacks the doctor-patient relationship by banning doctors from even talking about abortion or abortion services to patients. Clearly Rep. DeLauro did not read the regulation. While the regulation change does prohibit Title X clinics from referring for abortions, it still allows for nondirective pregnancy counseling in which clinics can discuss all available pregnancy options with women. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) spoke up in defense of the Protect Life Rule saying, “Time and time again Americans have said they do not want their tax dollars paying for abortions.” Rep. DeLauro later claimed that this rule change will limit access to family planning services for women. Family Research Council recently published a brief explaining how the Title X rule change actually expands family planning options for women, not limits them.

The attacks on the president’s policies did not stop there, as Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) celebrated the fact that the spending bill eliminates the “abstinence only until marriage program” and increases funding for comprehensive sex education. What Congresswomen Lee was really referring to is the Sexual Risk-Avoidance Education program (SRA) which received $35 million this year. The SRA program is designed to encourage avoiding risky sexual behavior all together as opposed to simply reducing it. FRC’s Peter Sprigg wrote a brief explaining more about how SRA education helps eliminate sexual risk for teens. While Rep. Lee would make you believe that the only way to educate teens about sex is through her comprehensive sexual education programs, SRA education, which receives far less federal funding, is actually more effective.

Representative Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) followed along with her colleagues when she opposed a Born-Alive amendment offered by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) that would ensure funding recipients do not allow an infant that is born alive after a failed abortion to be denied lifesaving care. Rep. Frankel couldn’t help herself from making the conversation about abortion access when she claimed that this amendment is a way to keep women from being in charge of their own bodies and intimidating doctors from performing abortions. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) a mother of two children, responded by saying, “To hide behind the idea that this is about overturning the law of the land, you can say that, but that’s not the truth.” Requiring born-alive protections does not undermine abortion access in any way—it instead treats all infants who survive failed abortions as a patient that deserves the same lifesaving care guaranteed to all Americans. Since Rep. Frankel and other Democrats cannot seem to understand that infants do in fact survive failed abortions, Family Research Council published a blog outlining just the facts about the issue.

To end the mark-up, several Democratic members made lofty promises about the success of fetal tissue research to attack an amendment offered by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that would ban federal funding for research using tissue from aborted babies. In defending his amendment, Rep. Harris said, “It’s a straw man argument—Parkinson’s was never cured, Alzheimer’s is not being investigated using fetal cells—these are straw men.” Democrat politicians have little moral boundaries when it comes to achieving supposed medical “breakthroughs”—they will even take tissue from the most vulnerable among us just for a chance at new cures that never come.

Statements like these from Democratic leaders should come as no surprise, as time and time again they fail to read legislation, understand regulations, and listen to the facts. Even as the appropriations process continues with Democrats at the helm, we will continue to speak the truth and advocate for policies that respect the dignity of all human life and allow families to flourish.

Connor Semelsberger is the Legislative Assistant for Family Research Council.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act: Just the Facts

by Patrina Mosley , Connor Semelsberger

March 22, 2019

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a bill sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) that requires lifesaving medical care be given to babies born alive after failed abortion attempts. This legislation has garnered national attention in the wake of a radical abortion agenda that is sweeping across states like New York, Virginia, Vermont, and Illinois. After a recent vote on the born-alive bill in the U.S. Senate that failed to pass, many Senators and Representatives are continuing to make the debate about abortion policy in general instead of focusing on the specific language of the bill, which is to protect innocent lives moments after birth. There has been much debate and false information on what this bill will do and the general nature of infants born alive after an abortion attempt. Here are the facts:

Aren’t late-term abortions only performed when the baby has a fetal abnormality?

  • No. Very few late-term abortions are performed on babies who have fatal birth defects. A study conducted in 2013 by the Guttmacher Institute suggests that most women seeking later term abortions are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomalies or life endangerment. The women in this study offered the same reasons for obtaining an abortion as those who seek abortion earlier in pregnancy.

Do babies actually survive failed abortions?

  • Yes. In fact, the CDC reports that from 2003-2014 at least 143 infants died after being born alive during an abortion procedure, and the report admits that this is almost certainly an underestimate. There are no federal abortion reporting requirements, which leaves a massive gap in state reporting.
  • Only six states require reporting on children who were born alive during abortion procedures, and as of 2017, only Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Oklahoma have reported this information. In 2013 Florida passed a born-alive protection act that stipulated reporting requirements. In 2017 alone, Florida reported that 11 babies were born alive during abortion procedures.

Here are two personal accounts of abortion survivors:

  • Gianna Jessen had been in the womb for seven months before her mother went to a Planned Parenthood to have a late-term saline abortion. (Saline abortions rarely if ever happen anymore in the United States for abortions up to 24 weeks gestation. This technique has been replaced with an equally gruesome one that dismembers a child limb from limb, known as a Dilation & Excavation, or “D&E.”) Saline abortions use a saline solution to poison the baby, which burns him or her inside and out, even burning off the outer layer of their skin. The child suffers in these conditions for over an hour until their demise, and the mother must deliver her dead child the next day. But Gianna survived. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation in the abortion attempt, but today she only walks with a small limp!
  • Melissa Ohden’s biological mother had a saline abortion. But Melissa survived. After being born alive, it was found that she was seven months old. Today Melissa is a pro-life advocate with a master’s degree in social work and is the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network (ASN).

Aren’t there already laws in place against infanticide?

  • Currently, there is no federal criminal statute against taking the lives of born-alive infants; criminal charges are applied at the state level. In 2002, Congress did pass the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, but this law was only a definitional change stating that all infants who survive an abortion are full persons under the law. There has not been a single prosecution brought against an abortion doctor since this law was passed even though the CDC admits that this happened at least 143 times.
  • Twenty-nine states currently have some form of born-alive protections. However, New York state recently repealed their born-alive protections with the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, making it one of 21 states with no born-alive protections. That is why a federal law adding enforcement tools to prosecute doctors who deny life-saving medical care to infants who survive abortion is necessary.

Shouldn’t the decision to keep a child be between a woman and her doctor?

  • This bill does not prescribe specific medical procedures that doctors must perform. In fact, the language specifically reads: “Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”
  • The bill also requires that the child be rushed to the nearest hospital. Many contend that moving a child to a hospital might not be the best medical practice, but it is important that the born-alive infant be moved to a hospital because not all abortion clinics have the necessary equipment or trained staff to provide necessary care. Also, it would not be in the child’s best interest to have the abortion doctor, who moments before was trying to kill the child, provide life-saving care.

Given the atrocities against born-alive infants committed by Dr. Kermit Gosnell that were revealed in his 2013 trial, it is essential that we enforce and strengthen the principle that born-alive infants are American citizens entitled to the full protection of our laws. We must never forget what happened in one of America’s most horrific homicide cases, and we must never allow it to happen again:

  • One employee testified in the trial that she witnessed Gosnell snip the necks of more than 30 babies.”
  • A 28-week-old baby boy was found frozen in a gallon water bottle.”
  • One of the babies was reportedly moving and breathing for 20 minutes before an employee cut the spinal cord.”
  • Gosnell severed the spine of one breathing, moving, born-alive baby and put the body in a plastic shoebox for disposal.”
  • When authorities searched Gosnell’s office, they found bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses scattered throughout the building.”
  • Many other horrific details were brought as evidence before a grand jury. You can find a comprehensive list in this Washington Examiner article of all the horrible offensives committed by Gosnell on helpless infants.

Having protections for abortion surviving infants is the issue at hand—not abortion rights or women’s rights. This is about offering medical care to a child who has now become the patient. We must decide as a country where we stand on this issue: to either pursue humane protections for those must vulnerable in our society or continue to subject innocent human life to the whims of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell.

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