Author archives: Mary Szoch

Will Joe Biden Be as Pro-Life as President Trump?

by Mary Szoch

January 21, 2021

As Joe Biden’s presidency begins, Donald Trump’s presidency has come under even greater scrutiny. His administration’s record on life issues is no exception. Hillary Clinton and others are claiming that Democratic presidents are just as good as, if not better than Republicans on life issues. Although it is true that abortion numbers reportedly declined during Barack Obama’s presidency and increased slightly between 2017 and 2018 under Trump, it would be incorrect to attribute the decrease or increase to either president. Correlation does not equal causation. These numbers in isolation should not be taken as an indication that we should expect the Biden administration to be just as (or more) pro-life as the Trump administration.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (1973) made abortion through all nine months of pregnancy the legal default unless Congress or individual states passed laws restricting it. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Court adjusted its previous decision to say that a state cannot impose an “undue burden” on a woman’s attempt to obtain an abortion pre-viability. As a result of these two decisions, state law—not presidents—have the greatest influence over whether abortion numbers rise or fall in a given year.

Even though state laws have the greatest effect on abortion numbers, pro-life presidents still make a huge difference. President Biden will likely reverse many of the Trump administration’s pro-life policies, but the 200 federal judges and three Supreme Court justices—many with proven pro-life records—that Trump appointed during his presidency will be serving on the bench for years to come. Planned Parenthood’s website states, “For the Supreme Court, Trump delivered on his promise to nominate justices who could overturn Roe v. Wade.”

The impact of these judicial appointments cannot be overstated. As Michael New pointed out, if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, state laws that protect the unborn—including six heartbeat bills that would prevent abortion after six weeks and an Alabama law that would ban nearly all abortions—would immediately go into effect, saving thousands of unborn children’s lives. Federal judges with a proven originalist track record have a far greater chance of upholding pro-life legislation than any Democratic appointees. These judges are appointed for life, and so, while the number of abortions may have slightly increased from 2017 to 2018, the impact of these judges will last far beyond the Trump administration—just ask Planned Parenthood.   

Although the Trump administration was unable to fully defund Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars, it did finalize the Protect Life Rule and redirected millions of federal Title X family planning funds away from abortion businesses. President Biden is expected to reverse this. The Trump administration also supported the historically bipartisan Hyde Amendment, which ensures that American taxpayer dollars do not pay for abortions domestically. Hyde is credited with saving over two million lives. For the first time since Hyde was voted on in 1976, President Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress are expected to try to remove it.   

President Trump took executive action to reinstate and expand the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy, which prevented American taxpayers from being forced to fund abortions internationally. President Trump also issued an Executive Order on Protecting Vulnerable Newborn and Infant Children, which states that babies born alive after an abortion must be given the same level of medical treatment afforded to other children born alive at the same gestational age. President Biden is expected to reverse both of these actions. Pray that he does not.  

Our faith tells us, “Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37). Let’s pray for the seemingly impossible—that President Biden will have a change of heart and that his administration will be as pro-life as Trump’s. This would be the opposite of everything we expect, but it would be a welcome surprise for all those who value life.

Supreme Court Protects Women’s Health by Reinstating FDA Restriction on Chemical Abortion

by Mary Szoch

January 18, 2021

On January 12, the Supreme Court granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s request to reinstate its requirements surrounding the distribution of the mifepristone abortion regimen. This ruling reversed a federal judge in Maryland’s ruling that blocked the FDA’s in person distribution requirement for the regimen citing the challenges to chemical abortion access presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Supreme Court decision was a win for women’s health. 

In 2000, under the leadership of the pro-abortion Clinton administration, the FDA approved mifepristone for abortion usage and declared that mifepristone was subject to certain distribution restrictions to ensure safe usage. In 2011, these restrictions were converted to Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, otherwise known as REMS. The FDA decided to place restrictions on this drug because mifepristone carries with it life-threatening and health-endangering risks, such as hemorrhage, infection, incomplete pregnancy, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death.

The restrictions, which were weakened but ultimately kept in place by the pro-abortion Obama administration in 2016, are meant to protect the women taking the drug. Under the current REMS, the drug must be prescribed by a health care provider who can assess patient eligibility, diagnose ectopic pregnancies, and provide or facilitate emergency surgical intervention in the case of an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding. Under FDA rules, mifepristone is not available from pharmacies. Notably, the 2016 weakening of the REMS removed the requirement for manufacturers to report any adverse events to the FDA other than death.   

The FDA is “responsible for protecting public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.” Though the FDA operates under the Executive branch, a department responsible for protecting public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs should not be a political organization. Its decision to put restrictions on mifepristone are based on the drug’s ability to harm women—not on a political agenda.

This spring, the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding that the FDA temporarily suspend enforcement of the REMS so that women could receive mifepristone through the mail, thus eliminating the requirement for patients to see a health care provider prior to ingesting this dangerous drug. The ACLU argued that the patient had already been evaluated by a clinician either using telehealth or at a prior in-person visit, thus negating the need for another in-person visit to receive the drug.

Unfortunately for women, their health care is certainly not a top priority in this lawsuit. Though a doctor may be able to determine how far along a pregnancy is or diagnose an ectopic pregnancy through telemedicine, it is certainly not best medical practice. Failing to diagnose an ectopic pregnancy or to properly assess the length of a pregnancy can cause serious harm—and even death—to the woman taking the mifepristone. The Maryland court’s acceptance of the ACLU arguments puts women’s lives at risk.

Thankfully, for the time being, the Supreme Court decision issued a stay of the preliminary injunction that reinstated the REMS requirement. This means the Court will allow the FDA to once again enforce its requirement for now. In his concurrence granting the stay, Roberts wrote that the “courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the ‘background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.’” In other words, Robert’s deferred to the FDA rather than specifically voting because of the risk to women’s lives.

Under the Biden administration, the FDA will have the opportunity to continue supporting the REMS, just like they did under the two proceeding pro-abortion Democratic administrations, or to do away them. In the past 20 years, mifepristone has not gotten any safer for women. Hopefully, under the Biden administration, the FDA will not decide to play politics with women’s lives.

Is Abortion the Solution to Women’s Problems?

by Mary Szoch

December 10, 2020

On December 8, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing entitled “The Impact on Women Seeking an Abortion but are Denied Because of an Inability to Pay.” Based on the title, some may think this hearing was about finding ways to actually improve the lives of pregnant women in need, but that was certainly not the case. 

In her opening remarks, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) made it clear that this hearing was about removing the Hyde Amendment. She began,Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, yet for too long some women in this country have been denied their right to an abortion. The Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory policy. For more than 40 years, it has been routinely extended—every year as a legislative rider—but the time has come in this current moment to reckon with the norm, with the status quo, and view it through the lens of how it impacts communities of color.”  

Since 1976, the so-called “discriminatory” Hyde Amendment has been included in each annual spending bill and has maintained widespread bipartisan support. Hyde does not restrict abortion in and of itself; it merely states that taxpayer funding cannot be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, and saving the life of the mother. A 2020 Marist poll found that 60 percent of Americans, including 37 percent of people who identify themselves as pro-choice, oppose taxpayer funding of abortion. Contrary to DeLauro’s claims, Hyde is not discriminatory at all. Instead, it simply aims to protect taxpayers from paying for a practice they believe is the killing of an innocent unborn baby.

DeLauro went on to explain what she believes Hyde’s impact on communities of color has been. She stated that women who are seeking an abortion but are denied are four times more likely to live below the Federal Poverty Level, more likely to experience serious complications at the end of pregnancy (such as eclampsia and death), more likely to stay with an abusive partner, more likely to suffer anxiety and loss of self-esteem, and less likely to have aspirational plans for their future. 

DeLauro’s comments relied on the “Abortion Turnaway Study” conducted by the strongly pro-abortion Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco. Though touted by mainstream media as a reputable study, the methodology of the study was flawed, and the results were tailored to fit the picture the researchers set out to present. That is, that few women regret their abortion, and being denied an abortion has serious negative consequences on a woman’s health and well-being.      

Imagine for a minute though, that DeLauro’s comments were accurate. Imagine that women carrying an unwanted child to birth are four times more likely to live below the poverty line, experience serious pregnancy complications, stay with an abusive partner, suffer anxiety and loss of self-esteem, and have less aspirational plans for their future. Wouldn’t the solution to this bleak situation look something like providing these women with better health care, affordable housing, childcare, job coaching, counseling, tutoring, mentors, and friends? That is the work of pregnancy resource centers, like the ones Christiana Bennett referenced during the hearing. These centers—Care Net, Heartbeat International, the Gabriel Network, and Birthright, to name a few—are lifelines and beacons of hope for women. Their message to pregnant women with nowhere else to turn is: “You can do it! And we’ll be right here to help you!” Rosa DeLauro’s message, on the other hand, is: “No, you can’t…unless taxpayers pay for you to abort your child.”  

In her remarks, DeLauro failed to mention that the Hyde Amendment has saved over two million lives—many of whom are people of color. Hyde’s removal will most certainly increase abortions. Women who are pregnant and in need face incredibly challenging situations—lack of health care, homelessness, abuse, food insecurity, the list goes on and on. Rosa DeLauro’s solution is for taxpayers to pay for these women to kill their unborn children. Clearly, she and the pro-abortion members of Congress who claim to represent women’s rights need to reconsider how they can best help women.

National Disabilities Day Should Be a Celebration of ALL Human Life

by Mary Szoch

December 3, 2020

On this National Disabilities Day, I’m struck by a great paradox. Today, in the United States and in many countries around the world, people with both physical and intellectual disabilities have more opportunities than ever before. Mass institutionalization of people with disabilities is a thing of the past. Workplaces have anti-discrimination policies that protect people with disabilities from unfair treatment. Sports for people with disabilities have become a worldwide norm. Universities are developing programs for people with intellectual disabilities. The “r-word” is largely recognized as derogatory and dehumanizing. And yet, while our society has come so far in its treatment of people with disabilities who are born, we have utterly failed to protect these people’s most basic right—the right to life.

A few weeks ago, an article titled, “The Last Children of Down Syndrome” appeared in The Atlantic. The article stated that because 95 percent of women in Denmark who receive a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome choose to abort, only 18 babies with Down syndrome were born in Denmark last year. The article noted that in the United States, 67 percent of children pre-natally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. In 2018, a press release from the government of Iceland noted that because of pre-natal screening, only 2-3 babies with Down syndrome are born in Iceland each year. While our society has recognized that people with disabilities who are already born have countless gifts to offer—we’ve missed the most basic point. People, regardless of what they can or cannot do, deserve to live.

My older sister, Marita, has multiple physical and intellectual disabilities. While she does not have Down syndrome, she has a genetic disorder very similar to it. Her life, though certainly not an easy one, is filled with joy. She has had more surgeries than I can count. Tying her shoes and cutting her food are mountains she climbs daily. Getting out a thought sometimes takes her several minutes. Marita struggles to do the things most people take for granted with one major exception. Marita does not struggle to love. No, loving is something Marita does better than anyone I know. If you walk into the room with a smile on your face, you are immediately her friend. About five minutes after meeting you, she’s likely to give you a hug and tell you she loves you. If you wrong her, it’s forgotten the moment you apologize. If you do something to make her feel special—she’ll remember it for life. 

Marita loves so well and so easily not in spite of the disabilities that have made her life so challenging but because of them. To love, we have to be vulnerable. For most of us, that requires breaking down walls and building trust. It’s a process that takes time and effort and can easily be destroyed. For Marita, being vulnerable is just part of being Marita, and consequently, loving is just part of being Marita.

That is what Denmark is missing, that is what Iceland is missing, and that is what the United States will be missing if we do not recognize that people with disabilities have dignity and worth beginning in the womb. By their very being, these people teach us how to love, and that’s something this world could certainly use more of. On this National Disabilities Day, let’s pray for a greater understanding of the gift people with disabilities are to our world. Let’s pray for a greater appreciation of those who teach us to love.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Archives