Following President George H.W. Bush’s death, the story about his rescue following his attack on Chichi Jima has been retold to new a generation. The story goes that our beloved president, who was serving as a pilot during World War II, was forced to bail out of his aircraft after attacking the small island. He was eventually rescued from the waters of the Pacific by an American submarine. It was later noted later by a Japanese official how significant it was that the Americans sent a submarine into harms way in order to rescue one aviator. To this officer, it demonstrated the extreme value that America placed on human life, a value that he did not see reflected in his own government.
In America, one of our most closely held God-given rights is the right to life. Today, many in our culture claim to value life, yet too often we don’t live up to this claim. Sadly, nations of the world are beginning to follow our lead and act on the lie that some lives are more valuable than others in their laws.
Ireland, a historically Catholic nation that believed strongly in the value of human life, banned abortions in 1983. Sadly, just a few months ago the nation legalized abortions—a huge step backward in protecting life. Even now their lawmakers are moving a bill that will legalize abortion up to the 11th week of a woman’s pregnancy.
If you’re looking for a silver lining, Ireland’s legislation has some protections for the unborn that even American states are not allowed to institute—such as banning abortions after 11 weeks. In America, courts have not allowed states to ban abortions before “viability,” which is considered to be at about 20 weeks. Courts have repeatedly struck down any law that bans abortion before that time. Shockingly, in states that have tried to ban the cruel practice of dismemberment abortion, where the baby is literally ripped apart in the womb limb by limb, even conservative courts have struck down these laws because they claim the ban effectively bans abortions at around 15 weeks.
It’s undeniable that the Irish law is still more prolife than U.S. abortion laws overall. Yet, there are still prolife provisions that exist in many U.S. states that were not included in Ireland’s law—despite the efforts of the country’s prolife leaders. These common sense provisions include banning abortions based on disability, race, or sex.
Chile only recently legalized abortion, and only in the rare cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in danger. Thankfully, there are still 26 other countries that completely ban abortion.
Compared to these countries with fairly restrictive abortions laws, China stands as the clear leader in the culture of death. In China there are countless stories of forced abortions, and there are little to no restrictions on when an abortion can be performed.
While America isn’t quite China – we aren’t where we need to be. As a country, it is important that we consistently live out our beliefs and protect the lives of all people simply because they are made in the image of God. We are making slow and steady progress in this arena, but it will take the commitment of men and women of God standing for life in their state legislatures.
The next legislative session in most states is just around the corner. At Family Policy Alliance, we are preparing ourselves to fight for life in state capitols with our allies across the country. Please consider a year end gift to help us fight for the dignity and worth of every human life.
Brittany Jones, Esq.
By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager
We celebrated World Down Syndrome Day on Wednesday. My social media feeds were full of friends and family celebrating the lives of people with Down syndrome. Yet, “fetal abnormalities” seems to be the one time that even some conservative churches are ok with abortion. When a prenatal screening or test seems to indicate that a baby in the womb may have some sort of disability or abnormality, the church often sits silently by as parents process the news. Their thoughts may wander to whether abortion may be acceptable in their situation—because it will be difficult to raise a child with a disability, because of the burden on the parents or society, because the child won’t have a “full life.” But this means that the Church has also bought into the lie that some lives are more valuable than others.
Ideas have consequences. Activists like Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and W.E.B Du Bois claimed to build a better society by weeding out those who they saw as a “drain:” “No more children should be born when the parents, though healthy themselves, find that their children are physically or mentally defective. No matter how much they desire children, no man and woman have a right to bring into the world those who are to suffer from mental or physical affliction. It condemns the child to a life of misery and places upon the community the burden of caring for it, probably for its defective descendants for many generations.”
As we discussed in A Life Worth Living, this misplaced and deluded compassion wrought heartbreaking consequences because even in the United States, 67% of babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are still aborted.
Sadly, even many in the Church have accepted some of this ideology in an attempt to show compassion to parents who are facing a difficult pregnancy. My good friend Hannah was supposed to be born with Down syndrome, and her Christian parents were encouraged to abort her.
“Finding out you were supposed to be born with Down syndrome is one of those path-changing moments in life. When you start to realize that your life could have been vastly different, or not even at all, you begin to understand that you were given a gift, an opportunity. I could have been another nameless number someone hears about on the news or reads about in an article. Instead, I have a voice, and I intend to use it for all those nameless numbers who will never have the opportunity to experience life.”
She could have been aborted, but that is not her story. Instead, she will graduate law school in just eight short weeks. She is using her voice to speak up for those whose voices have been silenced.
When parents are given a challenging prenatal diagnosis, the family of believers should be ready to step up to the challenge with them. The answer for believers should always be to walk with one another through the trials and the joys, never to eliminate a child who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our amazing God.
Like Hannah, we have the opportunity to speak Truth and life into our states and nation. Will you pledge with us to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves? Our Family Policy Alliance Team also pledges to you to keep you updated about opportunities to advance a culture of life in your state!
By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager
Can the government force a private entity to speak when the thing they are being forced to promote goes directly against their core beliefs—and even their very reason for existence?
That is what the Supreme Court will be deciding this March in a major case called NIFLA v. Becerra. In California, crisis pregnancy centers are being targeted for their message that all life is precious. California’s government has demonstrated clear bias in favor of abortion and is now forcing these pregnancy centers to display advertising for abortion services.
In 2015, the Reproductive FACT Act was passed, requiring that private pregnancy centers advertise taxpayer-funded abortion to the women entering the facilities. Presumably, this Act applies to all facilities that provide care to pregnant women, but in reality the bill only affects crisis pregnancy centers. Ironically, the Act exempts all facilities that are California government insurance providers – which includes all abortion facilities.
Our ally, California Family Council, has been fighting this law since the beginning. Family Policy Alliance, together with over 40 of our state-based family policy allies, have joined forces to submit an amicus brief in this major Supreme Court case on behalf of the pregnancy centers.
The Supreme Court allows entities to file briefs in support of a party in a case. These briefs are known as amicus briefs and are intended to give justices a fuller understanding of the viewpoints on either side of the issue. These can be very important in the decision-making process for justices. In fact, our amicus brief in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, another major abortion-related case from 2016, was cited in Justice Alito’s dissent. These seemingly small documents can have a great effect on the outcome of important cases.
The brief argues that pregnancy centers should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs by conspicuously promoting something they believe is morally wrong and sinful – the killing of a preborn baby. It also argues that the state is compelling speech unconstitutionally. The speech of private entities ought to be protected and only compelled in certain instances. In this case, there is no justification to compel private speech, especially when it interferes a religious belief. The Act is forcing pro-life clinics to essentially become advertisers for the very thing they are fighting against.
We just concluded Sanctity of Human Life month in January, but that does not mean we should stop fighting for the right to life for every child! Please partner with Family Policy Alliance, and our ally in your state, as we advance these critical human rights—the right to life and the right to freely live according to your beliefs.
By Brittany Jones, Policy Manager
Imagine a world where the facilities that were the staging ground for relief to others were not rebuilt following a natural disaster. The world you just imagined was actually the world we lived in until recently. Texas Governor Greg Abbott & Texas Attorney General Paxton pled with FEMA to allow churches to receive help rebuilding, and now FEMA agrees with them.
During the Obama administration, private nonprofits that were exclusively religious were not allowed to receive government assistance for disaster relief. Churches are sacred spaces that provide refuge and comfort to thousands effected by tragedies such as natural disasters. Churches were hit just as hard as other nonprofits in the recent storms, yet they were not able to access the same government resources to rebuild because of their religious nature—even though they were leading the way in providing relief to their communities. Check out our video briefing on this topic from last year.
Our friends at Becket, a public interest law firm, have been working tirelessly to ensure that churches are treated equally in many arenas. They filed several lawsuits in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. They argued that the government was discriminating against religion by denying access to generally available resources. FEMA finally saw reason and is now allowing churches to be reimbursed for their rebuilding expenses.
Churches are motivated by their faith to help those around them, especially in times of intense need like we saw this past summer. Receiving these benefits allows the church to continue to run its normal operations while helping those in its community. Across the nation, 80% of disaster relief comes from faith-based organizations. Churches should not be penalized because of their inherent religious nature, but rather should be encouraged to support hurting people.
Thankfully, in this situation, FEMA saw the importance of protecting the freedom of churches to serve those in need and access the same help generally available to the public. However, this is not always the outcome. As legislative sessions begin in state capitols across the nation this month, lawmakers in each state have the power to pass laws to protect the church from being discriminated against by the government or to punish churches and ministries who live out their faith. Will you join Family Policy Alliance and our state-based family policy allies as we continue to fight for good laws that protect religious freedom in every state?
by Brittany Jones, policy manager and an attorney
When I was growing up my parents simply wanted to know that I would make it to adulthood with the skills, knowledge and faith to make a difference in my small part of the world. My parents recognized early on that my brother got bored in a normal school environment, because he wasn’t challenged. They recognized that I didn’t learn to read in Kindergarten because I was too distracted by what Sally Sue was doing on the other side of the room. They recognized that my sister was drawing house floorplans before she could even write her ABCs. They took this information and made a hard choice. They made the choice to take us out of traditional school and to teach us at home, in a day and age when few in our community were educating their kids at home. At the time it was a scary, somewhat untried approach.
Maybe you are in a similar situation as my parents. Maybe your kid just wants to play football. Maybe they love dissecting worms in your backyard. Maybe they just like to paint. These are things that parents are in the unique position to observe and to act on for their child. Formal education is an enormous component in a child reaching their potential. A child’s education will launch their belief system and understanding of the world. As a society, we need to give kids the wide open space to explore whatever may interest them. We should seek to equip parents with the tools and space to make the decisions about their child’s education.
There are some concrete ways the government can help parents choose the best educational fit for their child:
Education Savings Accounts allow parents to save for their children’s education and use the funds when and how they see fit for educational expenses, helping remove some of the financial burdens of education. Tebow Bills, which allow a homeschooled student to participate in extracurricular activities and classes at their local public school.
“Tebow Bills” give students the opportunity to participate in public school activities and academic courses they might not otherwise have access to. This puts the choice in the hands of parents rather than the state.
My parents took a risk in our education, giving us the tools we needed to do something we truly love and are called to do. They produced a math teacher, an attorney and an architect.
And, yes, don’t worry — I did learn to read!
Family Policy Alliance is working every day to ensure you have the ability to raise your child in the way you are led. Whether in a traditional public school, an alternative public school, a private school, or home school, we want to equip you to raise and educate your child in a manner that best gives your child a wide open future and fuel to explore his or her calling.
This is part 5 of 5 in our Let Parents Parent series on the importance of protecting parental rights for families.
Thousands of you sent messages to members of Congress urging them to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – and they did.
Brittany Jones, policy analyst for Family Policy Alliance, explains what the bill would do, why it’s needed, and what happens next.
THANK YOUR LAWMAKER if they voted for the bill – or express your disappointment if they did not. We’ve made it simple to find out how they voted and easy to send a message through the Family Policy Alliance Action Center.