The last several weeks have brought a lot of encouraging news in the quest to protect life, as several states have taken bold steps to greatly limit abortions.
While those new laws in places like Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri are being challenged and put on hold in the courts, it’s still an encouragement to see lawmakers moving in the right direction. It was especially positive to see the Democrat governor of Louisiana put his signature on the pro-life bill there.
But sadly, we’ve also seen a march in the other direction. New York got everyone’s attention early in the year, and other liberal states have followed suit.
Probably the most stunning example just happened in Illinois, where a few days ago the state senate approved a bill that legalizes abortion through all nine months and strips away all limitations, including repealing the state’s ban on gruesome partial-birth abortions. The governor of Illinois is fully expected to sign it.
So where does Idaho stand in all of this?
Every year, the national pro-life group, Americans United for Life (AUL), does a comprehensive legal analysis of each state’s legal protections for human life from conception to natural death. This year, Idaho ranked as the 21st most pro-life state – right behind Virginia and just ahead of the Carolinas.
Idaho lawmakers – with the help of people like you – have passed a lot of good, pro-life measures over the years.
- These include making abortion illegal after viability, when a baby is able to live outside the womb.
- They have also enacted laws requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortion.
- They have instituted measures to ensure that women seeking abortions are informed about their baby’s development and what really happens in an abortion.
- Idaho also requires a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion.
- In the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions, four new pro-life laws were enacted, including a requirement that women seeking chemical abortions receive information about ways to potentially reverse such an abortion once the first medication has been taken.
- And just this year, the state tweaked its ban on partial-birth abortions to satisfy court concerns and make it enforceable.
Studies show that many of these laws significantly reduce the number of abortions in a state, so it’s reasonable to assume that they played a role in the more than 20 percent reduction in Idaho abortions over the last decade or so.
But the 1,285 annual abortions in Idaho, as of 2017, remind us that we have lots of work to do, including passing other laws that have been enacted by the 20 states that rank ahead of us on the AUL list. Yes, some of those laws will be challenged and end up in the notorious Ninth Circuit. But Arizona, which is also in the Ninth Circuit, ranks number one on the AUL list – proving that we can still accomplish a lot, with hopes that an improving judiciary will open up the window of possibility even more.
Choosing when, where and what legislation to run is a serious chess game with lots of strategic implications. It calls to mind the multi-faceted strategic decision-making in which President Abraham Lincoln engaged as he sought to free the slaves – keeping his eye on the courts, the political situation in Congress and even the status of the war. He recognized that rash actions could jeopardize the entire effort, and yet he needed to be ready to move when the opportunity opened.
May God grant us that same strength – and great wisdom – in this critical life-saving mission.
Director of Advocacy
This week I’m changing things up a bit. I asked a guest writer, my college-age daughter Stephanie, to provide her unique perspective on any key policy issue that Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota fights for. Read on and enjoy.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill
I have heard it said that humans tend to live as if the status quo will never change, and I must admit that I often function as if this is true in my own life as well. However, if one looks at history, things are always changing, sometimes in dramatic ways.
For example, take the Berlin Wall. Built in 1961, the Berlin Wall was a symbol of finality. The East and the West were deemed by most to be irreconcilable, and there stood a 12-foot wall complete with barbed wire, guard dogs, and constant surveillance to remind us of the divide.
My parents remember growing up with the wall as a fact of life. To them it seemed as if the wall would be there indefinitely. Yet, on November 9, 1989 the wall lost its power. One decision was made, one announcement to the citizens, and people swarmed over the wall to freedom and to loved ones that night. Berlin would no longer be cut in two by iron and cement.
The Berlin Wall went up before my parents were born, yet they lived to see it fall. My brother and I were born into a world made just a bit more free, because of the brave individuals who did not rest until the wall was broken down. Stories like this remind me very much of issues that we are currently dealing with in our country, especially the issue of abortion.
In 1973, Roe v. Wade changed our country – a decision made before I was born. Many of you may remember when this happened, and then watched as our culture began to change in response. Abortion facilities began appearing everywhere, and eventually abortion became accepted and even celebrated, as it sadly is today. Today there are thousands of abortion facilities, lobbyists, and lawyers across our nation whose presence reminds us daily that a line was drawn that day. That line may often seem permanent, not unlike that wall during the Cold War.
But let me encourage you: history is not simply a continuation of the status quo. Statistics show that the percentage of people in America who self-identify as pro-life has continued to grow since Roe v. Wade, especially in recent years. I was born into a world in which abortion is legal, but the tide of history is turning. I have hope that I will see the Roe v. Wade decision reversed in my lifetime. I have hope that my children won’t have to live in a world where babies are murdered before they ever breathe air. And I have faith that, if we persist, by God’s grace, someday justice will return to our nation on this issue.
One day, I believe history will rank abortion in the same category as slavery and genocide. And on that day, we must be able to say that we did not give up, but that we kept fighting until unborn children were finally safe once again.
So please, don’t give up hope and don’t passively wait to see how history will play out. One decision, one announcement, one action can change the pattern of the last four decades. In one moment, the tide of history can turn. Remember, no matter how high a wall is or how insurmountable a court decision may seem, nothing is impossible with God.
Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota will never give up fighting for the sanctity and preservation of life, from conception to natural death. Thank you for standing firm and taking action with us on abortion and many other issues that will shape our culture in North Dakota and the nation for decades to come.
President and Executive Director
At what point does a life become worthy of protection? This is the question behind the pro-life movement. We believe human life deserves protection from the moment of conception.
Since Roe v. Wade, states have decided when this protection begins in various ways. Some states allow a woman to recover civil damages if someone kills her baby in the womb no matter the stage of the pregnancy, recognizing the humanity of the preborn life inside her. Some states heighten punishment for a person convicted of killing a pregnant woman, which recognizes that two lives were taken.
States have also regulated when abortions can occur. Some states are passing “Heartbeat” bills. The laws ban abortions after a doctor detects a heartbeat, recognizing the scientific fact that a heartbeat is a sign of life. Typically, a heartbeat can be detected around the sixth week of a pregnancy.
Though these laws are typically immediately struck down by federal and state judges because of the so-called “right to abortion” in Roe v. Wade precedent, they do serve the important purpose of reminding everyone what we all know: There is a baby worthy of protection in the womb. There are other important legal and strategic implications of these bills, but no one can deny that there is a separate beating heart inside the woman.
Other laws protect babies from certain forms of abortion, such as dismemberment laws, which ban an abortionist from tearing a baby apart limb-by-limb in the womb while the child is still alive. Courts have struck down these laws, even judges we’d consider “conservative judges,” because it is the most commonly used abortion procedure after 15 weeks into the pregnancy. Courts say that this violates the “woman’s right to choose to have an abortion” up until the baby is viable outside the womb, at around 24 weeks.
Even as we are seeing progress in the court of public opinion and as legislators in many states are beginning to recognize this as an issue they can no longer ignore, Planned Parenthood and their pro-abortion followers recognize the progress we are making and are fighting back. I’m sure you wept with us as New York passed a law allowing a preborn child to be killed even up until the moment before birth—and stripping any requirement that an infant who survives a botched abortion receive proper medical care. But New York isn’t alone. At least four other states – Vermont, Virginia, Rhode Island, and New Mexico –are considering bills similar to New York’s.
Even more shocking—some state lawmakers want to permit abortion procedures to occur without a doctor’s oversight. They also want to require doctors to perform abortions—regardless of their professional judgment or religious beliefs. Clearly, the pro-abortion movement will stop at nothing.
As John 1:5 says, “A light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” We know the truth – the baby in the womb is a life worthy protecting. In fact, the Bible tells us that it was a preborn baby who first rejoiced at the coming of Jesus! (John 1:41) Today’s Christ-followers are called to shine a light in the darkness of our culture of death.
Along with our state allies, we are engaged in the fight for every child in state capitols across the country. Will you make sure you are ready to fight against the pro-abortion bills coming in your state—as well as the good prolife bills that need your support?
Please check our ACTION CENTER to see if there are any bills in your state or in D.C. that need your voice?
Please also make sure that you are signed up with our state ally in your state—CHECK HERE to find your ally!
Brittany Jones, Esq.
P.S. Do you not have an allied state family policy group in your state? Email info@FamilyPolicyAlliance.com if you’re interested in helping get one started!
Allow me to introduce myself. As you may have read in Paul’s email last week, I will be serving as the Director of Advocacy for Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. In my role, I will be working with our elected officials in Topeka to create good laws (and oppose bad ones) with the goal of ensuring Kansas is a state where God is honored, religious liberty flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished. At Family Policy Alliance, I have served as a Policy Manager focusing on the issues of religious freedom, life, education, and pornography, and I am well-aware of the opportunities ahead of us.
As I learn more about Kansas, one thing that has impressed me is the state’s great legacy of protecting life at all stages of development. However, there are activist judges who are seeking to undermine some of your hard-won pro-life victories.
Just before the end of 2018, a district judge held that banning webcam abortions in the Kansas Telemedicine Act violated a “woman’s right to choose”. The bill was meant to protect women’s health by ensuring that they are seen by a doctor who is in the room with them and able to handle any emergencies that may arise.
The judge made his decision because he believes the law unduly burdens a woman’s ability to get an abortion. However, the government has a very good reason for passing and enforcing laws like ban on telemedicine abortions – because women’s lives and health are put at risk.
Telemedicine is also known as webcam medicine because it is practiced remotely by a doctor who is not in the same room with the patient. During a webcam abortion an abortionists can prescribe the abortion pill to a woman without ever seeing her in person or even being in the same state.
While telemedicine can be useful for certain medical issues, abortion should certainly not occur without a medical professional talking to and examining the woman because of the complex legal and mental health issues inherent in abortion.
From a legal perspective, Kansas law places many restrictions on abortion, such as not allowing them to occur after 20 weeks. Further, a woman cannot be forced to have an abortion and it is the medical staff’s duty to ensure that she is not being forced to have an abortion. These sorts of restrictions impact telemedicine because without a doctor being in the room it is difficult to know with certainty how far along the woman is or if she is being coerced.
From a safety perspective, abortions are inherently dangerous. And the farther along a woman is in her pregnancy the more dangerous they become. If a doctor is unable to correctly determine how far along a woman is, taking the pill could create an incredibly dangerous situation for the mother. Not having a doctor in the room could make it even harder to prevent this and ensure the safety of the woman.
For now, the law passed last year will not go into effect. There will likely be an appeal to this judge’s decision. Even as we work throughout this legislative session to protect life, we will keep you updated as this case moves forward. As we prepare for the coming legislative session, I look forward to working with all of you to continue to build a Kansas where life is cherished.
Proud to fight with you,
Like many Americans, I spent last week glued to the coverage of the testimonies of Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Now, as we wait for the FBI to complete its investigation of Ford’s claims, I noticed something troubling: progressive activists opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation are laying the groundwork to undermine the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
After relying on the Supreme Court to implement their desired policy goals, from Roe and Casey on abortion to Windsor and Obergefell on marriage, the Left is suddenly singing a different tune.
Ian Millhiser, Justice Editor for ThinkProgress, wrote that “Brett Kavanaugh is an existential threat to the Supreme Court.” He went on to recommend “an array of tools” to respond to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, including “pack the Court,” “strip the court’s jurisdiction over certain cases,” and “wipe out the Supreme Court’s budget, strip its judges of their staff and their law clerks.”
Zack Beauchamp, writing for Vox, said that confirming Kavanaugh “could lead to a collapse in faith for the Court – with dire consequences for American democracy.”
I saw the same thing in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Daily Beast, The Nation, Slate, and more. With the balance of the court on the verge of shifting to a conservative majority for the first time in a generation, the Left is seeking to undermine its authority. Ultimately, it’s not about Kavanaugh’s qualifications, or justice for Ford, it’s about politics.
No one understands the stakes for the Supreme Court better than pro-life and pro-family conservatives. We’ve lived under an activist court that undermined our values with unjust, unconstitutional rulings for decades. You know what we never did? We never threatened the Court. We never questioned the Court’s legitimacy. Instead, we took our lumps, got back up, and got back to work electing the kind of people who would appoint and confirm just judges.
If Kavanaugh is cleared of these allegations and confirmed to the Supreme Court, the fight won’t be over. We need to stay vigilant. Our democracy hangs in the balance.
Thank you for partnering with Family Policy Alliance of Kansas in that fight.
President and Executive Director
p.s. It’s election season. (You probably noticed.) Family Policy Alliance of Kansas aims to make knowing who to vote for as easy as possible with our election page. Check it out!
Part 3 in a 4-part series called “Protecting Life & Ending Abortion”
The Supreme Court Doesn’t Get the Final Say in Roe v. Wade, as we talked about in Part 2 of our four-part series on “Protecting Life & Ending Abortion.” Since the Roe decision in 1973, states have been passing laws that protect the lives of both mothers and babies, chipping away at Roe, bit by bit.
It’s not surprising that the states needed to pass laws that recognize the humanity of the unborn and regulate the abortion industry. But what many probably didn’t expect in the wake of Roe was the need for laws to protect the right to give meaningful consent to abortion by being given accurate information about the procedure and its impact—or the need for laws to protect medical professionals from being forced to participate in an abortion.
In this Part 3 of our series, we’ll discuss the importance of these laws. Do you know whether doctors and nurses in your state are protected from being forced to participate in abortions?
Laws Protecting the Right to Know & Consent
After Roe, many women were choosing abortion because abortion facilities never provided the mother with information about what the procedure would entail, the reality of post-abortion depression for many women, or the option to see an ultrasound of their baby. Most states today have laws that require abortion facilities to provide this basic information to women.
And many states are now taking those informed consent laws to the next level—requiring states to let women know that if they have a chemical abortion, there is the opportunity to reverse it without killing the baby if intervening medication is taken within a period of time. These types of laws clearly have the potential to save lives! So far, the following states have enacted laws requiring information about chemical-abortion reversal: Utah, Arkansas and North Dakota.
Another critical aspect of real consent to an abortion are laws that require that a parent give consent when a minor goes in for an abortion. These laws are especially important because traffickers frequently take young girls to abortion clinics to “get rid of the evidence,” and adults have been caught taking minors across state lines to avoid parental notification or consent requirements. Arizona, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and North Dakota are some of the states with the best parental involvement laws when it comes to minors and abortion because they require both parents to give their consent or require notification and consent.
Laws Protecting Freedom of Religion & Conscience
Even after a heavy-handed ruling like Roe, it made sense to most people in America to allow for disagreement—in other words, even if a woman chose to have an abortion and had the right to abortion under Roe, that didn’t mean others would be forced to enable or facilitate her decision.
Now, 45 states protect the right of healthcare professionals to decline to participate in an abortion based on their religious or moral beliefs.
Why Does It Matter if the Court Didn’t Have the Final Say in Roe v. Wade?
Family Policy Alliance cares deeply about helping the Body of Christ engage with their own governments, both state and local. We believe that the people of God have an amazing privilege and responsibility to impact the laws of the country and states in which we live.
And, it’s been largely believers who indeed did build the grassroots pressure that persuaded state lawmakers to pass all these laws that chip away at Roe v. Wade.
But to what end? We don’t care about passing more laws to defeat Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. We don’t care about passing more laws just because we live in a country where we have the opportunity to be a part of the law-making process.
We care about passing these laws because of the lives saved—and because each of those lives is an individual loved by and made in the image of our God.
And indeed, the evidence is overwhelming that pro-life laws – particularly consent laws – save lives. For example, a rigorous analysis of parental involvement laws (notification and/or consent) found that such laws generally reduced minors’ abortion rates by 15 to 20 percent!
We hope you’ll commit to partnering with Family Policy Alliance as we work together to make sure every state puts key laws into place that save lives & protect doctors and other medical professionals from being forced to participate in abortions.
Stay tuned next week for the final piece in our series “Protecting Life & Ending Abortion” where we’ll cover how we can see even more prolife progress in our country and states…even more quickly!
READ PART 1 – 45 Years Since Roe v. Wade
READ PART 2 – The Supreme Court Doesn’t Get the Final Say
READ PART 4 – After 45 Years, It’s Time to End Roe v. Wade!
by Paul Weber, president and CEO, Family Policy Alliance
May I just put into words what I’m hearing from many friends like you across the nation?
“When are the president and Congress going to pull it together?” After all, a majority of Christians voted in the president’s favor — and expect him and their representatives and senators to work together to turn our nation around.
And certainly, some good things are happening!
- We have a great new Supreme Court Justice — Neil Gorsuch.
- Families are going back to work.
- The economy is moving again.
Yet, two of the most important policies — defunding abortion seller Planned Parenthood and rolling back the abortion mandate in Obamacare (through a repeal and replacement plan) — remain on the pro-family “wish list.”
We must advance our values, advance legislation that reflects those values—and, ultimately, advance the statesmen and women who will sponsor that legislation—for the benefit of the entire nation. As followers of Christ, that’s what we are called to do!
As we’ve witnessed this legislative cycle — we need more statesmen and women in office! Not politicians who go back on their word . . . the word they’ve promised for seven years during the previous administration and still cannot make good on now!
Elections always have consequences, as we’ve seen from the 2016 election.
- If Hillary Clinton had been elected, we would now have a Supreme Court dominated by the Left, striking down everything we hold sacred! Instead, we have a new pro-life Justice, and the Court has already issued decisions supporting religious freedom and affirming parents’ rights to educational choice for their children.
- On the other hand, actions in Congress have shown us that there aren’t enough pro-family members — especially in the Senate —to get much done. Again, elections have consequences. Let’s send champions to the Senate this term.
- At the state level, we’ve seen significant victories — a flood of pro-life and pro-family laws as a result. Yet I grieve for California and other “blue” states that continue to see outrageous attacks on life and religious freedom as a consequence of poor election outcomes.
I’m inviting you to join in election efforts because of Family Policy Alliance’s proven track record of results.
When good people make the effort to vote for good people, good things can happen. Not that long ago, my friend Eli was not inclined to vote. But now he’s not only getting to the polls, he’s also teaching his students about the importance of voting.
By God’s grace, our call to motivate people to vote was on display again this summer, when Family Policy Alliance jumped into the “nationalized” special congressional election in Georgia.
You may have heard about that election, which broke the previous congressional spending record ($29 million) for all candidates in a race. The liberal candidate, Jon Ossoff, single-handedly broke that record with more than $30 million on his side alone—much of it from San Francisco donors.
Besides that $30 million, Ossoff had the national party united behind him, busloads of out-of-state volunteers, the MSNBC hosts singing his praises, dramatic voting rules changes, and a perfect political storm that many thought would sweep him to victory.
In fact, the day our state ally, Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, began running ads in the 6th U.S. Congressional District, Jon Ossoff was leading his pro-life opponent by 7 points!
Our online ads strategically reached out to specific pro-life voters who have a history of not voting in most elections — much less a special election in June!
So, what happened? Our video ads — which YOU made possible — were viewed more than 300,000 times! The result: 85 percent of these unlikely voters turned out at the polls on Election Day! That’s compared to a district-wide turnout of just 58 percent. Most importantly, that night Karen Handel became the newest pro-life congresswoman, winning 52-48 over Ossoff!
Family Policy Alliance has proven results in elections. But there is an important question that remains. How much you and I can accomplish in 2018 will depend on the resources available.
Will you invest in better leadership for our states and nation with your gift to Family Policy Alliance today?
New York Court of Appeals Rejects ‘Right’ to Assisted Suicide
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms is one of our 40 state-based allies.
Today, the New York Court of Appeals released its decision in the case of Myers v. Schneiderman. In this case, the plaintiffs sought to establish a “right” to physician-assisted suicide under the Constitution of the State of New York.
In a 5-0 decision, the Court of Appeals has rejected the plaintiffs’ claims and has affirmed that the state’s existing laws against physician-assisted suicide are constitutional.
Read more at New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom.
A Christian business owner in Kentucky is rejoicing today after the Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision that says he did nothing wrong when he declined to print T-shirts requested by the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization.
Blaine Adamson, owner of Hands on Originals, told said that his Christian faith kept him from printing shirts for an event.
“Specifically, it’s the ‘Lexington Pride Festival’, the name and that it’s advocating pride in being gay and being homosexual,” he said at the time. “I can’t promote that message. It’s something that goes against my belief system.”
The activist group, which has since changed its name to the Pride Community Services Organization, reported Adamson to the Human Rights Commission, which ruled against Adamson. From there, the case wound its way through the courts. Pride Community Services is now weighing whether it will appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Adamson was relieved when the ruling was announced Friday.
“I don’t leave my faith at the door when I walk into my business,” Adamson told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “In my case, fortunately, the legal system worked.”
Cases like Adamson’s demonstrate why believers in every state need to call on their lawmakers to pass strong religious freedom protections. Business owners should be free to live out their faith in the way they do their business—without fear of being punished for their beliefs by their own government.
When you cast your ballot, your vote is for more than just a president.
As Stuart Shepard explains in his Stoplight® commentary, your vote will also be toward a Supreme Court nominee. That selection will impact decisions regarding life, marriage and religious freedom for the rest of your life.
Thank you for sharing Stoplight with your friends.
Check out our voter guide page.