Author archives: Connor Semelsberger, MPP

FRC On the Hill (March 22-26): Senate Moves Quickly to Confirm Biden’s Radical Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 26, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

The Senate Moves on President Biden’s Nominees

This week, amidst several votes and confirmation hearings, FRC was hard at work tracking nominations and informing senators on the radical positions held by many of the nominees under consideration. This week, the Senate made progress on several concerning nominees:

Marty Walsh: The Senate voted 68-29 to confirm Walsh as secretary of Labor. The former mayor of Boston has touted his credentials as a champion of the LGBT agenda and often prioritizes it over the constitutional right to religious liberty. Walsh and the Biden administration are now in a position to restrict faith-based organizations from contracting with the Department of Labor unless said organizations comply with their liberal sexuality ideology. See FRC’s blog on Walsh here.

Walsh’s confirmation also means that President Biden now has a full cabinet, with all 15 of his cabinet secretaries confirmed. Although President Trump’s nominees were confirmed earlier, Biden’s nominees have received more bipartisan support, despite being arguably the most pro-abortion cabinet of all time. The delay in confirming Biden’s nominees is likely due to the Senate taking up a second failed impeachment trial of President Trump.

Shalanda Young: The Senate voted 63-37 to confirm Young as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position with significant influence on federal policy and the budget process. Representative Bob Good (R-Va.) had sent a letter to President Biden highlighting Young’s troubling opposition to the Hyde and Weldon Amendments, two longstanding federal pro-life policies. With Neera Tanden’s nomination having been withdrawn, Young could soon find herself as the director of OMB, wielding even greater influence. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Rachel Levine: The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Levine as assistant secretary of health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Only Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) broke with Republican ranks to support the nomination. Over the past several months, FRC had been actively educating senators on Levine’s concerning track record. Levine has a history of promoting abortion and actively speaking out against pro-life measures. Even more troubling are Levine’s radical stances on LGBT issues, which include advocating that children as young as five years old be allowed to change their gender without parental consent. Levine, who identifies as a transgender woman, has already announced intentions to use the position at HHS as a means of advancing this ideology.

See FRC’s resources for more information:

Vanita Gupta: The Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general at the Department of Justice ended in a deadlocked tie. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) eloquently stated how Gupta would use her new position to advance abortion while harming women’s sports and religious liberty. The committee chairman cut off Sen. Tom Cotton in the middle of his remarks in order to hold the vote. Gupta now waits to see if the full Senate will discharge her nomination in order to advance towards final confirmation.  

Cindy Marten: The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing this past week to assess Marten’s qualifications to serve as deputy secretary of Education during a tumultuous time for all levels of education in our country. Marten has a history of spearheading LGBT issues in the San Diego school district, and Sen. Murray (D-Wash.) directly brought up how she would have the opportunity to break down barriers for LGBT students.

Samantha Power: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a nomination hearing for Power to be the new head of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). As USAID administrator, Power would have the ability to direct global health funding to Planned Parenthood and other abortion groups, which is troubling given her past support for abortion and other anti-life policies. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also raised the issue of her troubling stance on an anti-Semitic UN resolution while serving as Obama’s UN ambassador.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked this Week:

  • Congress passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, even after discovering that Planned Parenthood received nearly $80 million in loans despite being ineligible for the program. Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) lead efforts in committee and on the Senate floor to block Planned Parenthood from receiving these loans.
  • The Senate Rules Committee held a hearing on S.1, a massive bill that would federalize elections and completely undermine election integrity. Senator Cruz introduced a letter for the record on behalf of FRC alongside letters from other conservative groups that oppose the bill.
  • Representative Mike Johnson (R-La.) introduced two new bills supported by FRC. One bill would ban damages or monetary awards in lawsuits against religious monuments and religious imagery in public buildings. The other would make it illegal to transport a minor across state lines to get an abortion.
  • The House Armed Services Committee held a hearing on Extremism in the Armed Forces. The chief of staff at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) testified. Several members of Congress, including Reps. Pat Fallon (R-Texas) and Austin Scott (R-Ga.), went after the SPLC witness over their fallacious hate group designations and internal turmoil. Other members raised the shooting at FRC in 2012 as a direct implication of their targeting of social conservative organizations.

FRC On the Hill (March 15-19): A Radical HHS Secretary, So-Called “Women’s Rights” Bills, and the Equality Act

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 19, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

The Senate Confirms Biden’s Radical HHS Nominee

This week, the Senate voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra as the new secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Becerra lacks any significant experience in public health; what he does have is an extensive track record of advocating for pro-abortion policies. The FRC team worked diligently over the past few months to inform senators about Becerra’s troubling history.

Becerra was confirmed with the support of two moderate senators who have voted for pro-life measures in the past, Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Collins (R-Maine). They unfortunately overlooked Becerra’s record and voted to confirm the most pro-abortion HHS secretary in history. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) lead the Republican efforts to defeat Becerra’s nomination and spoke eloquently on the Senate floor. Cotton highlighted Becerra’s history of attacking pro-life groups while serving as California’s attorney general.

It is no fluke that Becerra’s nomination and confirmation coincide with ongoing aggressive lobbying from the abortion industry. Planned Parenthood has called for the removal of all regulations governing chemical abortions. Last month, the Guttmacher Institute released a long list of policy demands for the Biden administration. Now that Becerra is confirmed, FRC will work to expose Becerra’s efforts to implement President Biden’s radical anti-life, anti-family agenda.

See FRC’s resources for more information on Becerra:

House Votes on Women’s Rights Legislation Without Protecting Women

To mark Women’s History Month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on two measures advertised as advancing women’s rights. In reality, both measures contain language that poses great harm to biological women. Leading up to the votes, FRC informed members of Congress of the true nature of these bills and their harmful effects on women.

The first measure was a resolution to retroactively eliminate the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed constitutional amendment that failed to acquire support from the necessary number of states in the 1970s. The ERA has been touted as a legal cure for all unjust discrimination against women. However, the ERA would do little to advance women in society. Instead, it would mandate abortion funding and eliminate existing legal protections that celebrate the biological realities of women. The measure to remove the ratification deadline passed 244-204. However, the ERA garnered the lowest amount of support it has ever received in the past 50 years, with only four Republicans supporting it.

FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Mary Szoch, shared her story of playing women’s basketball at Notre Dame and explained how the ERA would limit the dreams of countless women if it were ratified.

The second House measure was a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, a historically bipartisan bill originally passed in 1994 in an effort to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and increase the availability of victims’ services. Unfortunately, this reauthorization bill perpetuates and adds language that prevents it from achieving these goals, making the bill about expanding a radical sexuality ideology, not protecting abuse victims. The bill passed 244-172, with many Republicans opposing it due to the provisions that promote abortion and the LGBT agenda. Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.) highlighted how the bill did nothing to protect women from being coerced into an abortion from their partners. Sadly, Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-Mo.) thoughtful amendment to ban sex-selection abortions was defeated by the pro-abortion majority.

The FRC team will continue to inform lawmakers on how these bills could be modified to achieve the goal of helping women.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Debate Continues Around the Equality Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Equality Act, a bill that would massively overhaul our federal civil rights framework in order to mandate special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), expand abortion access, and gut religious liberty. If the Equality Act were to become law, it would leave many victims in its wake, including women, children, medical professionals, parents, teachers, students, families (including small business owners), the unborn, churches, religious organizations and schools, people of faith, and even those members of the LGBT community it claims to protect. FRC was instrumental in preparing senators to cut through the rhetoric and explain just how bad the Equality Act would be for our country.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.), the Chairman of the Senate Values Action Team, put it best: “We don’t oppose equality, but we do oppose legislation when you take the rights of one and dismiss the rights of others.”

Alarmingly, President Biden has already said he would sign the bill if it does pass through Congress. FRC will continue to monitor the Equality Act as it moves through the Senate.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week:

  • The Senate Health Committee voted 13-9 to advance Rachel Levine’s nomination to be HHS assistant secretary. Levine, a biological man who identifies as a transgender woman, has a history of advancing anti-family policies as the secretary of health in Pennsylvania.
  • The House Veteran’s Affairs Committee held a hearing on improving health care for America’s women veterans. Representatives Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) and Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) used this hearing to strongly push the VA to fund abortions. 
  • The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on forced labor. Several senators, including John Thune (R-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), raised concerns over the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims in China.

FRC On the Hill (March 8-12): Covid Relief Spending, a Radical Foreign Policy Agenda, and Extreme Nominees

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

March 12, 2021

Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring activity in Congress that affects life, family, and religious freedom and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the most important Hill items FRC worked on this week.

Congress Passes the American Rescue Plan Act, Sending $450 Billion to the Abortion Industry

This week Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that has more to do with funding abortion than providing necessary relief to Americans. The bill was rammed through both chambers of Congress and despite Biden’s promise of unity, did not receive the support of a single Republican. Throughout the process, FRC worked diligently to add in key provisions that would prohibit taxpayer funding for abortion and promote religious freedom.

The bill includes funding for a litany of things, some having to do with the pandemic such as testing, vaccines, and economic relief in the form of stimulus checks. However this relief is held hostage by the  billions that lack bipartisan restrictions on federal funding for abortion. For the first time in decades, taxpayer money can and likely will go to directly paying for ending the lives of the unborn. This in addition to the $10 billion that can be used to lobby for abortion overseas. The FRC team spent the week informing senators and members of Congress about just how much this bill subsidizes the abortion industry.

While Biden is trumpeting this bill as a “historic victory” for Americans, it is a devastating loss for the unborn and the consciences of Americans who do not want their taxpayer funds paying for the horrific practice of abortion.

See FRC’s resource for more information:

Secretary of State Charts out Biden’s Radical Foreign Policy Agenda

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to highlight the foreign policy priorities of the Biden administration. Right from the beginning in his opening statement, Blinken openly stated the goals of promoting “women’s reproductive rights” and advancing “LGBT rights” across the globe. As a result, FRC has been tracking the Biden administration’s foreign policy actions to make transparent how dramatic of a shift this is from the policies implemented under the Trump administration.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a strong advocate for the unborn, directly challenged Blinken’s support for countries with population control programs and urged the administration to “speak out” against China and their forced abortion policy. Rather than committing to taking action, Blinken repeated his pledge that we need to focus on human rights across the globe.

The White House also took action this week to entrench a radical sexuality ideology by establishing a new Gender Policy Council via Executive Order. The stated goals of the Council include advancing gender identity and abortion in both domestic and foreign policy. The report stated the need to “promote sexual and reproductive health and rights” across the globe.

Biden’s Executive Orders and Blinken’s statements during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing showcase the unilateral action the Biden administration plans to take on abortion and human sexuality. This is a far cry from Biden’s promise of unity and Blinken’s repeated promise to work with Congress.

The Senate Continues to Advance Biden’s Radical Nominees

This week, FRC was focused on informing senators about the radical positions of Biden’s nominees, as they are up for confirmation in the Senate. While many of Biden’s picks are concerning, these are the individuals chosen who warrant the most concern:

Shalanda Young: Nominated to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, Young was advanced by the Senate Homeland Security Committee despite all Republicans present voting no. Senator Lankford provided great remarks explaining their opposition, highlighting Young’s shocking opposition to the Hyde Amendment and other protections against forcing doctors to perform abortions. See FRC’s blog on Young here.

Marcia Fudge: The Senate voted 66-36 to confirm Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Based on her record in Congress, there are deep concerns that Fudge will roll back protections for religious liberty in the name of LGBTQ equality. See FRC’s blog on Fudge here.

Merrick Garland: Confirmed by a 70-30 vote to be the next U.S. Attorney General, Garland passed with bipartisan support. This is in spite of reservations about a repeat of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.

Xavier Becerra: With a radical track record, Becerra needed a discharge petition vote of 51-48 to bring his nomination to the Senate floor, after a deadlocked vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Despite grave concerns over Becerra’s strong history supporting abortion, both Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) who have supported pro-life legislation in the past, publicly supported his nomination. See FRC’s blog on Becerra here.

Other Notable Items FRC Tracked This Week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Vanita Gupta to be an associate attorney general. Gupta has taken radical positions on drug legalization and religious freedom protections.
  • The House Appropriations Committee held a hearing on expanding veterans access to fertility services with a goal of expanding in-vitro fertilization procedures for veterans without pro-life restrictions to protect human embryos from being destroyed.
  • The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on loosening federal policies on controlled substances. Democrat leaders used the hearing to push legalizing marijuana as a social justice issue. 

American Rescue Plan Act Spends Over $450 Billion that Can Fund Abortions

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

March 10, 2021

While the American Rescue Plan Act includes funding for testing, vaccines, and other health care equipment as well as economic relief for families like stimulus checks and an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, it comes at the expense of the lives of the unborn.

The American Rescue Plan Act lacks key abortion funding restrictions on over $459 billion, breaking decades of congressional precedent on restricting federal funding for abortion.  

1. Funds that Can Directly Pay for Abortions (Up To $386.7 Billion):

  • $350 billion in funding for state and local governments with little to no guardrails against funding abortions. The funding formula is tilted towards blue states like California and New York who are more likely to abuse this money to fund abortions directly and bail out Planned Parenthood the abortion industry.
  • $8.5 billion for the Provider Relief Fund, which could be used to directly finance abortions as well as to bail out abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood
  • $7.66 billion for public health workers
  • $7.6 billion for community health centers
  • $800 million for National Health Service Corps
  • $750 million for global health activities under the Center for Disease Control
  • $500 million for rural health clinics
  • $330 million for Teaching Health Centers that operate Graduate Medical Education
  • $200 million for medical reserve corps
  • $200 million for the nurse corps
  • $200 million for programs related to sexual assault and domestic violence
  • Amounts of $10 billion for COVID medical supplies that remain after September 2022 are allowed to be spent on other public health-related activities which can include abortion.

2. Funds that Can Subsidize Abortion ($704 Million) and Abortion Lobbying ($10 Billion) Overseas:

  • $10 billion in foreign assistance funds not subject to the Siljander Amendment, allowing these funds to be used for international abortion lobbying.
    • Of these funds, $500 million in humanitarian response activities for migrants and refugees by the United Nations also lack Helms Amendment protections to prevent the UN from using these funds to pay for abortions.
    • Of these funds, $204 million for State Department Activities also lack Helms Amendment protections, allowing these funds to be used for abortions abroad.
    • Of these funds $8.7 billion can be spent on contraception and sterilization procedures overseas and are likely to go to the major abortion business like International Planned Parenthood and MSI Reproductive Choices that provide these services.

3. Major Subsidies for Health Plans that Cover Abortion ($81.7 Billion):

  • For 2021 and 2022, vastly expands Obamacare’s premium tax credits and cost sharing reduction payments, which subsidizes plans that cover abortion. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates these subsidies to cost $45.624 billion.
    • Those under 150% of federal poverty level (FPL) would receive a 100% taxpayer subsidy to enroll in silver plans.
    • Those unemployed of any income level (for 2021) would receive a 100% taxpayer subsidy to enroll in a silver plan, and enhanced cost-sharing reduction payments.
    • Those between 150% and 400% FPL would receive a much more generous subsidy than current law.
    • Middle class taxpayers above 400% FPL, ineligible under current law, would become newly eligible for a significant subsidy so that the benchmark silver premium doesn’t exceed 8.5% of household income.
  • For six months, subsidizes 100% of the cost of COBRA continuation coverage. This subsidy covers the cost of health care premiums for the newly unemployed to remain on their employer sponsored health plans, which includes many plans that cover abortion. JCT estimates these subsidies to cost $35.095 billion.

4. Bailout for Abortion Businesses ($50 Million)

  • $50 million for the Title X family planning program – The Biden administration will likely direct these funds to Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses that withdrew from Title X over pro-life changes that were made by the Trump administration. Longstanding requirements on political lobbying, encouraging parental involvement, and reporting sexual abuse are not included.

Biden’s Cabinet (Part 1): Secretary of State Blinken Plans to Expand Abortion Worldwide

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joseph Norris

January 28, 2021

This is Part 1 of a blog series examining the records of President Biden’s Cabinet picks on abortion and family issues.

Many senators think newly-confirmed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s decades of experience and foreign policy credentials make him a good fit to lead the State Department. Unfortunately, based on Blinken’s past statements and President Joe Biden’s stated foreign policy objectives, it seems likely that Secretary Blinken would support and promote abortion internationally through an aggressive pro-abortion agenda.

The Trump administration went to great lengths to advocate for pro-life policies abroad. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that abortion is not a human right and condemned any attempt to make a “new international right to abortion.” He and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar wrote a letter pushing back against the United Nations effort to expand abortions internationally. The Trump administration reinstated the Mexico City Policy and expanded it as the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy (PLGHA). PLGHA ensured that abortion providers and their subgrantees were unable to access taxpayer dollars abroad. These actions protected the world’s most vulnerable citizens, the unborn. Unfortunately, the Biden administration is expected to undo many of these policies and set a new bar for abortion advocacy abroad.

The Biden administration will differ drastically from the pro-life attitude of the Trump administration, especially in the international arena, where Biden has made several promises and commitments. Throughout his campaign, Biden pledged to expand abortion access and contraceptives and to fully rescind PLGHA. As secretary of state, Blinken will help Biden achieve this goal internationally. Planned Parenthood applauded Blinken’s nomination, writing that he will help achieve the goal of “[ending] the reproductive rights abuses … around the world.” The nominee himself has stated on Twitter that he believes Biden needs to protect women’s “reproductive rights” worldwide. 

With the World Health Organization, United Nations, and other international organizations pushing to make abortion an international right, pro-life leadership in top government positions is needed now more than ever. Unfortunately, judging by Blinken’s past comments and actions, he will not be providing that leadership. While he was deputy secretary of state under President Obama, the Office of Global Women’s Issues was used to push for a radical sexual and reproductive health agenda under his leadership.

Although Blinken has not been a torchbearer for the abortion industry, his statements and past actions show that he will advocate for expanding the cruel practice of abortion internationally. His confirmation means the current secretary of state is no longer a champion for the unborn. Instead, Blinken will surely fall in line with President Biden’s agenda to expand abortion.

Connor Semelsberger, MPP is the Director of Federal Affairs for Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Joseph Norris is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on pro-life federal affairs.

House Resolution Coerces Members to Support Abortion Rights

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

October 9, 2020

Earlier this month, a former employee at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Georgia filed a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security, alleging that hysterectomies were being performed on detainees at the Irwin County Detention Center without appropriate informed consent. The U.S. House of Representatives has responded by passing a resolution condemning all perpetrators and calling for them to be held accountable.

House Resolution 1153, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), justly condemns the performance of “unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent.” Unfortunately, House Democrats couldn’t resist inserting partisan language into what ought to have been a straightforward and bipartisan resolution. The resolution’s second clause states that “everyone deserves to control their own reproductive choices and make informed choices about their bodies.” This begs the question: to what kinds of reproductive choices is the clause referring? The Democrat-controlled House most likely intends the so-called “right” to abortion, ignoring the rights of the unborn in the same breath as condemning ICE for violating the rights of women.

This resolution would not be the first time Democrats have embraced antithetical positions regarding human rights violations and abortion. Although Democrats insist human rights and abortion are one and the same, abortion is the very opposite of human rights, because every successful abortion ends a human life. It should also be noted that the abortion industry, which has long backed Democrat candidates, has a troubled history with eugenics. Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, was a eugenicist who viewed abortion and birth control as a means of controlling the population of the “unfit.” While Planned Parenthood’s current leadership may publicly disavow eugenics, many of its abortion facilities are situated in minority communities, and women of color are statistically much more likely to obtain abortions in the U.S. than white women.

Democrats are also slow to condemn the atrocity of forced abortion, which happens in many nations around the world, including the most populous country, China. Even here in America, many women who obtain abortions report having felt coerced into that decision by friends, family members, or boyfriends.

In many parts of the world, unborn children are aborted due to unwanted physical or mental disabilities, or even for being female. Iceland prides itself on having nearly “eradicated” Down syndrome, but in reality, the only reason the number of babies born with Down syndrome has significantly decreased in that country is because children diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are often killed prior to birth via abortion. In India, where sex-selective abortion is rampant, a new study has shown that there might be as many as 6.8 million fewer girls than boys born between 2017 and 2030.

House Democrats are right to condemn the practice of forcing hysterectomies on non-consenting women. The allegations raised against ICE at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that all offenders are brought to justice. By dragging abortion into H.Res. 1153, however, Democrats have created a needless roadblock to bipartisanship while also highlighting their hypocrisy on the issue of human rights.

In response to the partisan H.Res. 1153, Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) introduced the Informed Consent Act (H.R. 8498), which would prohibit any abortion or sterilization procedure performed without informed consent and impose a 10-year penalty on anyone who violates this provision. The issue of forced abortion and sterilization should not be co-opted as a means of promoting legal abortion. If Democrats truly had women’s best interests in mind, they would support H.R. 8498 and condemn any violence done to women and their unborn children.

Presidential Order Recognizes All Newborn Life is Precious

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Ruth Moreno

September 30, 2020

On September 25, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that reinforces existing protections for children born premature, with disabilities, or in medical distress, including infants who survive abortion. The Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children responds to credible concerns that some hospitals have refused to provide medical screening and stabilizing treatment to such children because “they believe[d] these infants may not survive, may have to live with long-term disabilities, or may have a quality-of-life deemed to be inadequate.” However, such refusals violate multiple federal laws, as the EO explains.

An EO is not a new law. Rather, it is a directive from the president instructing the executive branch on how to enforce existing law. This particular EO is primarily concerned with ensuring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) properly enforces three existing laws:

Specifically, HHS must ensure:

  • all federal funding recipients understand their obligations toward vulnerable children;
  • all federal funding recipients provide medical screening examinations, stabilizing treatments, or transfers when needed;
  • all federal funding recipients provide these services to all children, regardless of disability;
  • violation complaints regarding medical care for newborns and infants are investigated;
  • disability discrimination complaints can be filed on the HHS website; and
  • research into treatments for infants born with emergency medical conditions and programs that train medical personnel to care for said infants are prioritized.

This EO clarifies medical protocols for infants born with disabilities or who survive abortion. However, the executive branch is limited to enforcing the laws that already exist. A legislative fix is necessary to provide true legal protections for infants who survive abortion. Since 2006, five states have reported at least 179 cases in which an infant has survived an abortion. Because not all states report this data, the 179 cases we do know about do not even begin to paint the full picture of the number of abortion survivors in the United States. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act is a bill before Congress that would legally require medical professionals to give the same level of care to infants that survive abortion as they would to any infant born at the same gestational age, and include criminal and civil penalties for any physician that fails to give appropriate care to these infants.

Unfortunately, pro-abortion politicians have fallen victim to the abortion industry’s lies. They have halted every effort in Congress to denounce infanticide and provide full legal and medical protection for these innocent babies. Vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) voted against this life-saving measure twice, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continuously blocked Republican efforts to have a House floor vote on the bill.

Congress has neglected its duty to ensure that the right to life is secured for all individuals born in America. President Trump has stepped in to fill the void left by Congress’ inaction by issuing this Executive Order, demonstrating this administration’s willingness to do what is necessary to protect the unborn, the disabled, and every infant who has survived the horror of abortion.

Connor Semelsberger, MPP is the Legislative Assistant at Family Research Council.

Ruth Moreno is a Policy and Government Affairs intern focusing on federal legislative affairs, with a concentration on pro-life issues.

FRC On the Hill (September 21-25)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

September 25, 2020

Issues related to life, family, and religious freedom continue to be debated in Congress in the lead up to the election. Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring these issues and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the biggest items from the past week:

Senate Seeks to Save Moms and Babies

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) made a unanimous consent request for the Senate to pass the Support and Value Expectant Moms and Babies (SAVE) Act, which would codify the safety restrictions (risk-evaluating and management strategies, or REMS) placed on chemical abortion pills by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

First approved by the FDA in 2000 under pressure from the Clinton administration and its pro-abortion allies, chemical abortion pills are known to have serious complication risks, which can sometimes be life-threatening for the women who use them. The REMS impose several commonsense safety restrictions on the dispensing of chemical abortion pills, such as ensuring women receive the pills from physicians, are made fully aware of the associated risks, and know how to seek follow-up care from a doctor in the event of complications.  

Recently, some Democrats have pushed to repeal the REMS. In his remarks on the bill, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) noted that some Democrats advocate for chemical abortion pills being available by mail, with no additional information or care provided.

The risks chemical abortion pills pose to women are real, and they are serious. As Lee pointed out, “Women have suffered tragic, gruesome, and horrific experiences using the abortion pill.” Since its approval, abortion pills have caused over 4,200 medical problems, including more than 1,000 hospitalizations and nearly 600 life-saving blood transfusions. Twenty-four women have died from complications caused by abortion pills.

The repeal of the REMs would surely lead to greater harm to mothers. The SAVE Act should not be controversial, but pro-abortion Democrats have turned even the most basic conversations about women’s health into debates about Roe v. Wade. The truth is, Sen. Hyde-Smith’s bill says nothing about the 1973 Supreme Court decision.

As Lee said, “Something’s terribly wrong if we can’t have a conversation about women’s health without being accused of wanting to undo an entire line of precedent dating back to 1973.”

For those who care about expectant mothers’ health, Sen. Hyde-Smith’s bill is a welcome measure.

Untangling Government Subsidies for the Abortion Industry

Congress is taking steps to untangle Planned Parenthood from taxpayer subsidies.  Representative Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, a bill that would amend the Medicaid statute to give states the ability to exclude abortion businesses from participating in Medicaid.

Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides health care coverage for millions of low-income Americans. The Hyde Amendment does prohibit federal Medicaid funds from paying for elective abortions directly. However, Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses will perform other services besides abortion and are reimbursed for those services with a mix of federal and state Medicaid funds.

The most recent report published by the Government Accountability Office revealed that in 2015 Planned Parenthood received $414.37 million in federal Medicaid reimbursements alone! Although the funds cannot be used to pay for abortions directly, these funds subsidize the abortion industry by allowing abortion facilities to be reimbursed for other services they perform, which then frees up other money to hire abortionists, pay for abortions, or build abortion facilities.

Fourteen states have attempted to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in Medicaid, but because of a provision in the federal Medicaid statute, all of these efforts have been blocked by federal courts. Now is the time for Congress to clarify the Medicaid statute once and for all and give states the ability to make their Medicaid program free from elective abortion.

Senate Bill Would Protect Female Athletes Nationwide

Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) introduced the Protection of Women and Girls and Sports Act, which would make it a violation of Title IX for a school receiving federal funds to permit a biological male to participate in a sports program designated for women and girls.

Title IX is well known for its expansion of educational and athletic opportunities for women. With this bill, Loeffler is taking action to block what may be the biggest threat to girls and women’s sports since Title IX was adopted—the effort by some biological males who identify as female to compete against biological females. In the state of Connecticut alone, female high school track athletes have lost 15 medals to biological males in state competition in the last two years, reducing their chances for college athletic scholarships in the process.

Loeffler is the perfect senator to introduce this bill. She is a grateful beneficiary of Title IX, having played basketball and run cross-country and track in high school. As an adult, she invested financially in women’s sports by becoming a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women’s National Basketball Association. Now, as a U.S. senator, she is seeking to protect the opportunities afforded by Title IX for future generations of female athletes.

Regardless of what one thinks about the transgender movement or “gender identity” protections in other areas of life, fair athletic competition demands a policy like the one outlined in the Protection of Women and Girls and Sports Act. It is great to see Sen. Loeffler and her bill’s co-sponsors standing up for the rights of women and girls.

Other Notable Items

  • The House took action to protect religious freedom in China by passing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. The bill would require companies to prove that goods produced in Xinjiang, China, and imported to the U.S. are not made using forced labor of the Uyghur Muslim minority. It passed with near-unanimous support!
  • The House Judiciary Committee attempted to hold a hearing on oversight of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Civil Rights Division. However, it quickly turned into a partisan grandstand against Attorney General Bill Barr and his team of lawyers. Representatives Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) did a great job defending DOJ’s work to protect religious freedom from aggressive state and local coronavirus lockdown measures. 
  • Acting United States Secretary of Homeland (DHS) Security Chad Wolf sat before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee in a nomination hearing to be confirmed into the role of DHS Secretary. The acting secretary has been a strong leader in protecting American cities against the recent threat of violent mobs and riots.

FRC On the Hill (September 14-18)

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

September 18, 2020

Issues related to life, family, and religious freedom continued to be debated in Congress after its return from August recess. Family Research Council wrapped up another busy week monitoring these issues and being your voice on Capitol Hill. Here are the biggest items from this week:

Pro-Life Concerns with Vaccine Development

In Wednesday’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on coronavirus response efforts, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) urged panelists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to pursue an ethical coronavirus vaccine. All vaccines use human tissue in their production, but not all use tissue derived from ethical sources. As Lankford explained, some companies are using stem cells from adults or the placentas of born children to pursue a vaccine, while others (such as Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) are using tissue derived from aborted children. 

Lankford voiced the concerns the pro-life community has with vaccines developed from aborted children. He reminded the scientific and medical communities that the dignity of every human being must never be compromised. He also pointed out that vaccines from ethical sources will be more effective, as they will be better received by the public. “I don’t want to have a reason for people to not go get a vaccine because they’re concerned about the origin of the vaccine,” Lankford said to the panelists. “I want as many people as possible to actually get a vaccine because I think it’s important.” 

CDC Director Robert Redfield did not have an immediate answer to the pro-life concerns with vaccine development but assured Sen. Lankford that his office would follow up with more details.

Vote on Marijuana Legalization Delayed Due To Public Pressure

On Thursday, Democratic leaders from the House of Representatives announced the postponement of the vote on the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884). If passed, this bill would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Originally scheduled for a vote on the House floor next week, public pressure from groups opposed to the drug’s decriminalization has resulted in its delay. Family Research Council is part of the opposition effort led by Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an organization that dedicates itself to educating and lobbying against the legalization of marijuana at both the federal and state levels.

Although Democratic leaders say they remain committed to bringing the MORE Act to a vote before the end of the year, this delay proves that public pressure has real consequences in Congress and that Americans want public officials to focus on the coronavirus pandemic, not partisan priorities. This delay will give those opposed to the decriminalization of marijuana even more time to voice their concerns with the bill and change some minds in the House of Representatives.  

Other Notable Items

  • The Trump administration proposed a new federal regulation that would expand the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy. This policy requires non-governmental organizations to agree, as a condition of their receipt of U.S. federal grant money, to neither perform nor promote abortion as a method of family planning overseas. The Trump administration’s new rule, if implemented, would apply this policy to contracts and subcontracts as well as grants.
  • House Republicans led a last-minute amendment effort to add religious liberty protections for employers to the Pregnancy Workers Fairness Act (H.R. 2694).
  • Democratic strategists have amplified their efforts to eliminate the filibuster if they regain control of the Senate. This move would allow a simple majority of senators to pass radical liberal policies like the Equality Act or the Green New Deal.

Ruth Moreno, a Policy & Government Affairs intern, assisted in writing this blog.

Snopes Overlooks the Facts in Its Fact-Check of the Senate Born-Alive Vote

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP

August 25, 2020

By omitting several key elements of the abortion survival debate, Snopes’ fact-check of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (SB 311) is not an unbiased appraisal of the issue. Rather, it is a lackluster attempt to provide cover for U.S. senators who failed to support federal protections against infanticide.

Here is a fact-check of Snopes’ fact-check.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Thirty-four states have “laws offering various levels of protection for babies born alive after failed abortions, and various levels of criminal penalties set out for health care practitioners who fail to provide care for them.”

What’s True:

Actually, thirty-five states have some form of legal protection for infants born alive after failed abortions. Yet, nearly two-thirds of state laws do not have criminal penalties for physicians who fail to provide medical care to infants born alive.

Snopes mentions FRC’s Born-Alive Protections Map in its fact-check, but completely misses the map’s main takeaway. Yes, 35 states have some form of born-alive law on the books, but only 16 of those states mandate an appropriate form of care and impose penalties on physicians who fail to provide said care. The remaining 19 states do not provide necessary protections for abortion survivors. Most simply mirror the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002, which recognized and defined any child surviving a failed abortion as a full person under the law but failed to provide any concrete ways to hold physicians accountable for killing or denying medical care to infants who survive abortion.

It appears that Snopes erroneously conflates different elements of born alive laws in asserting that “two-thirds” of states have “various levels of criminal penalties” in their born-alive laws.

Snopes also conveniently omits that New York and Illinois repealed born-alive laws in 2019.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Democrat and Independent U.S. senators voted against the federal Born-Alive bill (SB 311) because it would have interfered with the doctor-patient relationship and undermined legal abortion access.

What’s True:

SB 311 contains no language that would undermine current abortion laws. The bill merely seeks to ensure adequate protections for born-alive infants who have survived an abortion. As the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse, explained on the Senate floor before the 2019 vote: “The bill’s terms are simple. A child born alive during a botched abortion would be given the same level of care that would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age….This bill is exclusively about protecting babies that have already been born and are outside the womb.”

Rather than quote the bill’s sponsor, Snopes relied entirely on quotes from Democrat senators who opposed the bill. While these Democrat senators may have claimed a potential breach of the doctor-patient relationship as a reason for opposing the bill, no such breaches have been raised in the 16 states with born-alive laws comparable to SB 311. Furthermore, born-alive laws in these states have had no proven effect on access to late-term abortions.

 

Snopes’ Claim:

Democrat senators voted against SB 311 because they felt it was unnecessary in light of existing law. Senator Mazie Hirono said the bill was “a solution in search of a problem.”

What’s True:

Studies from around the world confirm that infants can and do survive abortion. A 2018 European study found that over half of 241 pre-viable pregnancies resulted in live births following attempted abortions. A CDC report from 2003-14 revealed that at least 143 infants died after being born alive from an abortion. Only eight U.S. states currently require reporting on abortion survivors, but in those states, there have been at least 179 survival cases. Minnesota reported three cases in 2019 in its July 2020 report. Florida, which provides live updates of born-alive survivors, has reported four cases in 2020 alone. These reports show that infants can and do survive late-term abortions, and the states that provide accurate reporting report several cases each year.

We should all agree that whether by neglect or intentional means, the killing of a baby who has been born alive is abhorrent. Since so few states provide detailed information on abortion survivors, the scope of the problem is not fully known. Even one child born alive who dies after surviving an abortion attempt because they were denied medical care is too many.

Even Snopes grudgingly admitted in its article: “SB 311 would introduce a “born alive” abortion law that would apply uniformly throughout the entire country. By voting to block the progress of SB 311, the Democratic and Independent senators did undoubtedly prevent that outcome from becoming much more likely” (bolding mine).

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