Author archives: Mary Jayne Caum

What Harper Lee and John Donne Can Teach Us About Protecting All Life

by Mary Jayne Caum

July 25, 2019

Almost sixty years ago, Harper Lee taught us that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because of their innocence. However, more than 600,000 “mockingbirds” are killed each year. These mockingbirds are infants in the womb; infants who are devalued, targeted, and exterminated. Sadly, this is not the first time in American history human life has been devalued.

In 1857, the United States Supreme Court erroneously declared, “[T]he negro race [is]… a separate class of persons… not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government…” In the Dred Scot decision, the Supreme Court essentially proclaimed that African Americans were only partially human. Later, with the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the American people rejected this false opinion and recognized the inalienable rights of newly freed slaves. Over one hundred years later, in 1973, the Supreme Court would once again declare a class of people only partially human. However, as with Dred Scot, the American people should discard the tenants of Roe v. Wade and recognize the inherent dignity of infants developing in the womb.

When a life is devalued, it is easy to destroy. In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court devalued the life of infants in the womb by saying the state only has an interest in protecting children once they reach “viability” (which is an elastic term that changes with every advancement in neonatal intensive care technology). Roe explained that a child can be protected after viability because, “the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb.” However, the Court failed to explain what meaningful life means. Self-sufficiency? Wealth? Excellent health? Mental capacity? Even outside the womb, no child can survive without being fed, clothed, nurtured, and loved. Having to rely on someone does not devalue your life. Arguing that babies should be aborted simply because they cannot have a “meaningful life” is the same argument slave owners perpetuated.

Slave owners argued that African Americans were inherently inferior and “benefited” from the heinous institution of slavery. Masters contended that no slave could lead a meaningful life absent of slavery. Furthermore, pro-slavery advocates such as Stephen Douglas argued that slave owners had as much right to control their slave’s destiny as if the slave was a pig. Douglas wrongly contended that slaves had the same right, dignity, and freedom as pigs.

Today, children in the womb are labeled an inconvenience, not a person; a burden, not a soul. With the Supreme Court’s endorsement, the right to kill infants in the womb was created. Now, children are torn apart limb from limb through “dilation and evacuation” (D&E) dismemberment abortions. Shockingly, the disdain that some in our society have for life does not cease even when a child enters the world.

If a child survives a late-term abortion procedure, abortionists in some states now have the option to ignore the child gasping for life on the table and deny the struggling infant medical care. (Please join FRC’s End Birth Day Abortion campaign to fight this grave evil.) Abandoning a vulnerable infant is the logical outgrowth of the pro-abortion argument. As ethicist Peter Singer disturbingly explained in his well-known work Practical Ethics:

A week-old baby is not a rational and self-conscious being, and there are many nonhuman animals whose rationality, self-consciousness, awareness, capacity to feel, and so on, exceed that of a human baby a week or a month old. If the fetus does not have the same claim to life as a person, it appears that the newborn baby does not either, and the life of a newborn baby is of less value to it than the life of a pig…

Harkening back to the advocates of slavery, Singer compares infants with pigs. Pro-abortion advocates argue that women should be able to control the destiny of their unborn child as if that baby were a pig. We must reject this modern form of rationalizing slavery and once again recognize the inherent worth and dignity found in each person no matter their race, socio-economic status, or stage of development.

Like the abolitionists of old, we must promote the dignity of all people, realizing that, as poet John Donne observed, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Our hearts should ache for every dismembered, partially born, and abandoned baby whose life was declared meaningless. Pro-life advocates cannot stop proclaiming the truth and fighting for the rights of the vulnerable. As we fight for babies in the womb, let us be encouraged by the truth that one day our Heavenly Father “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

We must protect children in the womb from abortion’s pain and death, remembering that it is a sin to kill the mockingbirds in our midst.

Mary Jayne Caum is a Policy intern at Family Research Council.

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.

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.

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