December 7, 2021

Dobbs v. Jackson: The Viability Standard

During the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization oral arguments on Dec 1, several major ideas that will influence the judges' decision became clear. The IFRL is releasing a series of posts detailing those concepts so that pro-life advocates can know what is informing the court's upcoming decision in a case that has the potential to change the future of abortion laws in the United States.

The Viability Standard

A major topic of discussion during the oral arguments was the viability standard created by Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Under this precedent, the interest that states have in protecting the lives of unborn babies can only be enforced after the unborn child has reached an age of viability. The federal government recognizes this gestational age to be 24 weeks, although some babies have survived outside of their mothers' wombs after only 21 weeks gestation.

Mississppi Solicitor General Scott Stewart summarized the issue well when he gave his argument before the justices:

"Consider this case: The Mississippi law here prohibits abortions after 15 weeks. The law includes robust exceptions for a woman's life and health. It leaves months to obtain an abortion. Yet, the courts below struck the law down. It didn't matter that the law apply -- that the law applies when an unborn child is undeniably human, when risks to women surge, and when the common abortion procedure is brutal. The lower courts held that because the law prohibits abortions before viability, it is unconstitutional no matter what.

Roe and Casey's core holding, according to those courts, is that the people can protect an unborn girl's life when she just barely can survive outside the womb but not any earlier when she needs a little more help. That is the world under Roe and Casey.

That is not the world the Constitution promises. The Constitution places its trust in the people. On hard issue after hard issue, the people make this country work. Abortion is a hard issue. It demands the best from all of us, not a judgment by just a few of us. When an issue affects everyone and when the Constitution does not take sides on it, it belongs to the people."

The conservative majority, should they choose to overrule the precedents set by Roe and Casey, have several options of how to do so. They could

  1. simply move the viability standard from one subjective age to another (such as 15 weeks),
  2. return to an "undue burden" standard by which a set of rules would define when states have the right to protect the lives of unborn babies through legislation, or
  3. rule that the Constitution does not take a stance on abortion and return the issue to the states. This would give states the power to limit abortion however they choose.
When Justice Sotomayor challenged Stewart to explain why the current viability line is not workable, he responded that the standard does "is not tethered to anything in the Constitution, in history, or tradition. It's a quintessentially legislative line. A legislature could think that viability makes sense as... a place to draw the line, but it's quite reasonable for a legislature to draw the line elsewhere."

Several Justices and arguments pointed out that setting an arbitrary age or returning to an undue burden standard could create problems for the court in the future.

Justice Kagan asked a question of Stewart that highlighted a problem that could be created if the court were to return to an undue burden standard,
"...if basically the viability line was discarded and undue burden became the standard overall, a standard that according to you is an unclear one, what that would leave the Court with going forward.

You know, I'm just sort of thinking about the great variety of different -- of regulations that states could pass, so whether one is 15 weeks and one is 12 weeks and one is 9 weeks or variation across a wide variety of other dimensions. What would that look like coming to the Court?"

Stewart's response agrees that an undue burden standard could be problematic, but emphasizes that is part of the reason why Mississippi is recommending that the Supreme Court overturn Roe and Casey wholesale. 

"...part of why we've counseled to overrule full scale is that that's the only way to get rid of a number of the problems that I think Your Honor's alluding to.

And that's that when you have the undue burden standard, it's -- it's a very hard standard to apply. It's not objective. The Court looks to the record in each case and what's going on. I mean, the Court in Casey itself said, under this record, this is not an undue burden. You -- you couldn't say necessarily for certain that a certain number of weeks one place would be an undue burden but would be okay another place. But, again, that is the world we have under Casey. So, if the Court upholds this law under the undue burden standard, it would be carrying forward with those features, which I -- and I hope I've answered your question, but I think that's one of the very strong reasons to just go all the way and overrule Roe and Casey, Your Honor."

Several statements by Chief Justice Roberts, however, implied an interest in simply moving the line at which abortion can be regulated from 24 weeks to 15.

“...if you think that the issue is one of choice, that women should have a choice to terminate their pregnancy, that supposes that there is a point at which they've had the fair choice, opportunity to [choose], and why would 15 weeks be an inappropriate line? Because viability, it seems to me, doesn't have anything to do with choice. But, if it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?”

“...I'd like to focus on the 15-week ban because that's not a dramatic departure from viability. It is the standard that the vast majority of other countries have. When you get to the viability standard, we share that standard with the People's Republic of China and North Korea.”

While moving the standard would provide a great benefit to the unborn, it would not make the issue go away. To truly protect the lives of the unborn, pro-life advocates would much prefer that the courts send this issue back to the states. If they do so, states can enforce legislation that values and protects their lives.

In our next Dobbs post, the IFRL will take a look at some of the medical statements made by pro-abortion justices and legal counsel.

December 6, 2021

Dobbs v. Jackson: Liberty and the 14th Amendment

During the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization oral arguments on Dec 1, several major ideas that will influence the judges' decision became clear. The IFRL is releasing a series of posts detailing those concepts so that pro-life advocates can know what is informing the court's upcoming decision in a case that has the potential to change the future of abortion laws in the United States.

Liberty and the 14th Amendment

Justice Clarence Thomas's exchange with US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who argued on the pro-abortion side of the issue, cut to the crux of the constitutionality argument.

“I understand we are talking about abortion here,” Thomas said. “But what is confusing is that we — if we were talking about the Second Amendment, I know exactly what we are talking about. If we’re talking about the Fourth Amendment, I know what we’re talking about because it’s written. It is there. What specifically is the right here that we are talking about?”

“The right is grounded in the liberty component of the 14th Amendment, Justice Thomas,” Prelogar responded. She argued that the right exists in an interpretation of the 14th Amendment's liberty component. The 14th amendment reads that "...the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

Because unborn children are often not considered "persons" under the law, the pro-abortion interpretation is that this clause protects a woman from being "compelled" by the state to carry an "unwanted pregnancy" to term. The unborn child in this case would not be given similar rights to liberty or due process due to their legal status.

Julie Rikelman, representing the Center for Reproductive Rights, confirmed this with her own arguments before the court. "...Casey and Roe were correct," she stated. "For a state to take control of a woman's body and demand that she go through pregnancy and childbirth with all the physical risks and life-altering consequences that brings is a fundamental deprivation of her liberty. Preserving a woman's right to make this decision until viability... protects her liberty while logically balancing the other interests at stake."

Thomas also asked Rikelman where the constitutional right to abortion is found, and she similarly referenced liberty and the 14th Amendment.

This reasoning, of course, does not take into account the right of an unborn child not to be killed. Justice Kavanaugh correctly pointed out in one of his questions that the rights of both a mother and her unborn child cannot be respected at the same time during an abortion. "...you can't accommodate both interests. You have to pick. That's the fundamental problem. And one interest has to prevail over the other at any given point in time, and that's why this is so challenging."

In our next post, the IFRL will highlight the court's discussion over the viability standard.

December 3, 2021

Dobbs v. Jackson: Stare Decisis

During the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization oral arguments on Dec 1, several major ideas that will influence the judges' decision became clear. The IFRL will be releasing a series of posts detailing those concepts so that pro-life advocates can know what is informing the court's upcoming decision in a case that has the potential to change the future of abortion laws in the United States.

Stare Decisis

Pro-abortion Justices and the challengers to Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban argued their position from the point of view that abortion precedent should stand under the principle of stare decisis. This principle means “to stand by things already decided.” The actual constitutionality of abortion was not a major topic of discussion.

One statement by Justice Sonia Sotomayor is an example of this. "The right of the woman to choose, the right to control her own body, has been fairly set since Casey and never challenged. You want us to reject that line of viability and adopt something different," she said. "Thirty (justices) since Casey have reaffirmed the basic viability line. Four have said no, two of them members of this court. But 15 have said yes, of varying political backgrounds."

Justice Stephen Breyer also argued that it was not correct for the court to reexamine its precedent, saying, "To overrule under fire, in the absence of the most compelling reason, to reexamine a watershed decision, would subvert the court's legitimacy beyond any serious question."

Justice Samuel Alito, on the other hand, challenged the idea that abortion precedent can't be touched by the court. He questioned US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who argued on the pro-abortion side of the issue, by using the example of Brown v. Board of Education. That decision overruled the Plessy v. Fergusson precedent of "separate but equal."

After Prelogar initially did not give a direct answer, Alito said,

"I still don’t have your answer clearly. Can a decision be overruled simply because it was erroneously wrong, even if nothing has changed between the time of that decision and the time when the Court is called upon to consider whether it should be overruled? Yes or no? Can you give me a yes or no answer on that?"

Prelogar did eventually concede that she believed it was correct for the court to overrule its precedent in that case, but she added many qualifiers to her answer.

Justice Kavanaugh also challenged Prelogar, and argued that the Constitution does not make any statements on abortion whatsoever.

"The Constitution is neither pro-life nor pro-choice on abortion. If we think that the prior precedents are seriously wrong, why don't we return to neutrality?" Kavanaugh asked. "Why should this court be the arbiter rather than Congress?"

"There'll be different answers in Mississippi in New York, different answers and Alabama than California because they're two different interests at stake and the people in those states might value those interests somewhat differently."

Prelogar responded that abortion is a "fundamental right" and that without it women would be unable to "participate fully and equally in society." She described abortion as a "central component of women's liberty." With this as her basis, she argued that the states did not have the right to protect the lives of the unborn through abortion restrictions.

Liberty does not give one human being the right to end the life another completely innocent human being. Prelogar's statements stretch the concept of liberty past their reasonable limits, and suggest that women are incapable of participating equally in society if they don't end the lives of their unborn children through abortion. Her description of Supreme Court precedent clearly shows why pro-life advocates so strongly oppose it. In our next post, we will examine the "liberty" to which Prelogar is referring more closely.

December 2, 2021

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women's Health

On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the highly anticipated case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. In this case, the court will decide whether states have a compelling interest to protect the lives of unborn babies prior to viability. The court will begin deliberating on a decision that could change the future of abortion law in America.

The case was initiated by a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks gestation. That law has been blocked by the courts, but it is being used to challenge the Supreme Court's abortion precedent.


“The Supreme Court oral arguments today were very encouraging. It is apparent from the questions that a majority of the Court is seriously considering at least rejecting the viability line that currently prohibits prohibitions on abortion prior to viability,” said James Bopp, Jr., National Right to Life Committee’s (NRLC) General Counsel, and author of NRLC’s amicus brief in the case.

“But the key question seems to be how far the Court is willing to go, either a decision that just rejects the viability line, permitting states to argue that prohibitions on abortion prior to viability are justified by sufficiently compelling state interests or if they will issue a broader decision which explicitly either totally or partially overrules Roe and/or Casey. There appears to be several Justices whose questions seemed to favor one path or the other, who would constitute a majority,” said Bopp.

“It is important to remember that either ruling would be a tremendous victory for the pro-life movement, vastly expanding our ability to protect innocent unborn life,” Bopp concluded.

Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer suggested that the current standard, viability, has served as a workable and fair standard for when states can begin to limit abortions. The other justices expressed that this standard does not make sense. Even Chief Justice Roberts, according to New York Times writer Adam Liptak, “repeatedly questioned whether the viability line was crucial, saying that Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of the majority opinion in Roe, had called the line arbitrary in his private papers.”

National Right to Life President Carol Tobias spoke at a press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court, saying , “Viability is an ever-changing standard and, therefore, unworkable as the timeline or framework for abortion. For many years, babies were thought to be viable at 28 weeks. Now, babies are generally considered to be viable at 24 weeks, but babies have survived at 21 weeks! Viability is not a characteristic of the baby but of how advanced our technology has become.”

Tobias continued, “Mississippi seeks to protect from abortion unborn babies after 15 weeks. By that age, preborn children are fully formed. They have heartbeats, fingers and toes, and functioning organs. By eight weeks gestation, brain waves can be recorded. Life has surely begun, and the state has the right, indeed—the duty—to protect it.”

National Right to Life's Dave Andrusko wrote about five major takeaways from Wednesday's oral arguments. Click here to read those.

December 1, 2021

Study Shows Increased Risk of ER Visit After Chemical Abortion

A new study shows that increased access to abortion pills could be the cause of increased abortion-related emergency room visits.

The study, released by the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) and published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Services Research and Managerial Epidemiology, used Medicaid claims data to analyze the 423,000 confirmed abortions and 121,283 confirmed subsequent visits to the emergency room. The study included emergencies that occurred within 30 days of abortion by women over 13 years old who had at least one identifiable pregnancy between 1999 and 2015.

The data shows that abortion-related emergency room visits increased over 5000% between 2002 and 2015. In that same period, chemical abortions (abortions completed via the abortion pill) increased from 4.4% to 34.1% of all abortions.

Key findings from the CLI study include:

  • Women who had chemical abortions were 53% more likely to visit the ER for an abortion-related reason. They were 22% more likely to visit the ER for any reason.
  • For every 100 abortions, the study found 35 abortion-related ER visits. The rate of ER visits for surgical abortions increased by 315% from 2002-2015, while the rate for chemical abortions increased by 507%.
  • Women who have a chemical abortion, and then have a second abortion of any time within 12 months were more than twice as likely to end up in the ER.
  • Over 60% of abortion-related ER visits after chemical abortions in 2015 were miscoded by hospital staff as miscarriages. Whether intentional or mistaken, this could put those patients at increase risk or hide the dangers of chemical abortions.
The FDA will decide on Dec. 16 whether to end REMS safeguards that regulate the distribution of abortion pills. If the Biden FDA chooses to allow widespread mail distribution of this DYI abortion method, that could create a public health risk for women throughout the US.

November 30, 2021

Oral Arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization to be Heard this Week

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization on Wednesday, Dec. 1. The Court will consider whether states have a compelling interest in protecting the right to life prior to viability.

This case stems from a 2018 Mississippi law that protects babies from abortion after they reach a gestational age of 15 weeks. Lower courts have blocked this law from being enforced, but Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch will have the opportunity to argue on its behalf. Fitch plans to argue against the current Supreme Court framework surrounding legal abortions. 

In a statement released after the Supreme Court set Dec. 1 as the date for oral arguments, Fitch wrote,

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to present our case directly to the Justices this December. The Court has acknowledged that states have the authority to promote legitimate interests, including protecting women’s health and defending life; but its abortion precedents have denied the people and their elected leaders the ability to fully do so.  In fact, the Roe decision shackles states to a view of facts that is decades old, such that while science, medicine, technology, and culture have all rapidly progressed since 1973, duly enacted laws on abortion are unable to keep up. With Dobbs, the Supreme Court can return decision-making about abortion policy to the elected leaders and allow the people to empower women and promote life.”

If you would like to watch a live stream of oral arguments on Wednesday, you can do so at the Mississippi Attorney General's website here.

November 29, 2021

CDC Report Shows Abortion Rate Increase

A report released last week by the CDC suggests that abortion is on the rise in the United States.

The CDC released a report on Nov. 24, 2021 showing that the number of abortions increased by 2% from 2018 to 2019. Furthermore, the report says that "Approximately 18% of all pregnancies in the United States end in induced abortion."

The report lists a number of factors that contribute to the abortion rate. Among them are state regulations, parental involvement laws, and legal restrictions on abortion businesses.

Frustratingly, the data available to the CDC lacks information from three states. Among those states is California, which is a pro-abortion state and is also the most populated state in the country. The other states that choose not to report abortion statistics to the CDC are Maryland and New Hampshire. Because it is not mandated by the federal government to provide abortion statistics, the information provided to the CDC by the 47 reporting states could easily undershoot the true abortion rate.

November 26, 2021

Tennessee to Pay Legal Fees for Abortion Businesses Temporarily Closed During 2020

Tennessee has agreed to a settlement with abortion businesses in the state to pay their legal costs for suing over Gov. Bill Lee's executive order that banned non-essential medical procedures for a period of time in 2020. The order was designed to preserve personal protective equipment for hospitals during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennessee will pay $249,000 to abortion businesses to cover their legal costs. The prosecuting parties to be awarded taxpayer dollars include "Bristol Regional Women’s Center, CHOICES, the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, and Dr. Kimberly Looney — an OB/GYN affiliated with Planned Parenthood" according to Live Action.

The abortionists argued that ending the lives of innocent unborn humans is essential, and the legal system, unfortunately, agreed with them. A Nashville judge blocked the order from applying to abortion, and the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Tennessee's request to hear the case.

40 Days For Life Reports 20,000 Baby Saved Since 2007

pro-life advocates at a 40 Days for Life Vigil in Chicago
On November 19, the 40 Days for Life organization announced that it reached the milestone of 20,000 babies saved through its pro-life campaigns.

40 Days for life holds multiple campaigns each year, during which pro-life advocates work to save the lives of unborn babies through prayer, fasting, and sidewalk counseling. On Nov. 24, the 40 Days for Life website showed that campaigns have saved 20,368 lives since they began in 2007. Additionally, 114 abortion centers had closed and 229 abortion workers have quit their jobs during the 40 Days for Life campaigns.


40 Days for Life President and CEO Shawn Carney commented on the accomplishment, saying, “We’re winning. […] We’re winning because Planned Parenthood in the last decade has closed 36% of their locations. We’ve seen over the last 25 years half of all abortion facilities close and go out of business.”

November 25, 2021

Be Thankful for Life!

Happy Thanksgiving from the

Illinois Federation for Right to Life!



 

November 24, 2021

OB-GYNs Launch New Initiative to Increase Number of Doctors who Provide APR

In an effort to increase the number of doctors who provide Abortion Pill Reversal (APR) to women who regret starting chemical abortions, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists is launching a new initiative.

The pro-life doctors have launched a new webpage and video to help answer questions that medical professionals might have about APR. Titled, "Give Your Patients a Second Chance at Life," the webpage also includes links for medical professionals to join the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, which helps connect women who regret taking the first abortion pill to doctors who can provide APR. To this end, the Abortion Pill Rescue Network runs a 24/7 helpline staffed by trained nurses.

APR works by counteracting the effects of the first pill in the abortion pill regimen. If a woman has only taken the first pill, but regrets doing so, APR can save the life of her child. This is because the first pill, mifepristone, simply blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone. This hormone helps facilitate the flow of oxygen and nutrients from a mother's body to her child's. Essentially, mifepristone kills unborn children by starving and suffocating them. When a doctor administers APR, the pregnant mother will take additional progesterone. This can counteract the effects of mifepristone and restore the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the child.

ABC Poll Shows Support for Roe v. Wade

A poll published by the Washington Post and ABC News last Tuesday claims that 60% of Americans support Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court declared in its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that abortion is a constitutional right. The Supreme Court doubled down on this with its Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision in 1992, and courts throughout the country have referred to these decisions as precedent for decades.

The same poll claims that 65% of Americans believe the Supreme Court should overturn the Texas Heartbeat Act.

Dr. Micheal New, a Research Associate of Political Science and Social Research at the Catholic University of America, argued that the poll, while showing that there is a lot of work yet to be done by pro-life advocates, arguably shows that pro-lifers have gained some ground in the culture war.

“This poll shows that 60 percent of respondents think the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade,” New wrote on Twitter. “Of the three [ABC/Washington Post] polls taken in the past 13 months — this represents the lowest level of support for the Roe v. Wade decision. Historically, Roe v. Wade has polled better than 60%. [Sixteen] surveys taken by [Quinnipiac] found support for Roe v. Wade averaged 64%. [Five] recent [Kaiser Family Foundation] surveys found support for Roe v. Wade averaged 67%. However, this [ABC/Washington Post] poll found only 60% support.”

November 23, 2021

Biden FDA Commissioner Nominee Has a Record of Expanding Abortion

Biden FDA Commissioner Nominee Robert Califf
photo credit: Christopher Michel / Flickr
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced that he is nominating Robert Califf to serve as the head of the FDA. 

Califf held this role in 2016 when he extended the legal use of abortion pills to include unborn babies up to 10 weeks old. Califf directed the FDA to make several changes to FDA regulations that restricted the use of the abortion pill regimen.

These restrictions were put in place to protect women from health risks posed by abortion pills. Under President Biden's administration, the FDA has allowed the distribution of abortion pills through the mail and announced that it intends to review safety regulations limiting its use.

Califf's changes in 2016 ended the requirement that abortion pill manufacturer DANCO report any medical complications other than the death of the mother.

November 22, 2021

House Passes "Build Back Better" Bill without Hyde Amendment

Democrats in the House of Representatives passed President Biden's "Build Back Better" reconciliation bill on Friday morning. The bill was passed without the Hyde Amendment, and it includes specific provisions to expand taxpayer funding of abortion.

The final vote was 220 to 213. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill.

The Build Back Better Act would:
  • mandate that the Affordable Care Act fund abortion in all 50 states
  • fund abortions through reinsurance payments and cost-sharing funding
  • further subsidize Obamacare exchange plans that cover abortion on-demand
  • give billions of dollars to public health grants without applying the Hyde amendment
National Right to Life President Carol Tobias commented on the bill's passage. “Abortion is not healthcare and, until this Congress, the Hyde Amendment enjoyed 45 years of bipartisan support,” Tobias said. The Hyde Amendment is widely recognized as having a significant impact on the number of abortions in the United States saving an estimated 2.4 million American lives. Yet, today, the Hyde Amendment is being targeted at every turn by pro-abortion Democrats.”

The Build Back Better Act will next be brought to the Senate for a vote.

November 19, 2021

State Department Includes Abortion in Human Rights Report

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
This month, the US State Department included abortion rights in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

The report includes sections detailing the "reproductive rights" in every country that is a member of the UN. When State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced the change, he told reporters, “We reaffirm our full commitment to promote and protect the sexual and reproductive health of all individuals, recognizing the essential and transformative role they play in gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment around the world.”

"Reproductive Rights" in this report includes the supposed "human right" to abortion. The ability to legally abort an unborn baby does not constitute a "human right." It is quite the opposite. Such "rights" deprive innocent humans of their lives, and they suggest that children are obstacles blocking women from being successful in life.

The Biden administration's State Department plans to judge UN members in its future annual reports.

Click here to read more.

American Life League Founder Paul Brown Dies at 83

Paul Brown with his wife, Judie Brown
On November 4, American Life League (ALL) founder Paul Brown passed away at the age of 83.

Paul and his wife Judie, the current ALL president, co-founded ALL in 1979 with the help of other pro-life activists. ALL is the oldest Catholic pro-life education organization in the US. It aims to protect all innocent human beings, including the unborn, the elderly, and the infirm. ALL does this by “providing TRUTH-based educational materials and opportunities, inspiring and equipping generations to act for GOD and LIFE, and protecting and caring for the most vulnerable among us — the defenseless, the hurting, the lost, and the despairing.”

ALL executive director Jim Sedlak issued a statement after Brown's passing. “Husband, father, grandfather, and pro-life hero, Paul Brown passed away on November 4, 2021, with his family by his side,” Sedlak wrote. “[Brown] was the man with the vision… the driving force providing the oxygen that makes American Life League’s work possible. He was the ultimate advocate for babies.”

In her own tribute, Judie wrote, “His wisdom and talents were one of a kind, and if it had not been for his investment in our work, I honestly do not think American Life League would have survived and grown,” she said. “This is why I agree with the wonderful pro-life gentleman who wrote, ‘The babies will be waiting with open arms for you, Paul, and they will never stop singing your praises.'”

Paul is survived his wife, three children, and 12 grandchildren.

November 18, 2021

Biden Pauses Employer Vaccine Mandate After Court Order

photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
In response to a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Biden administration is (at least temporarily) backing down from its COVID vaccine mandate for businesses.

Per Biden's directive, the US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) drafted a rule that would “require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.” That rule was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 4, 2022.

Groups of affected employees, a variety of businesses, and twenty-six states have filed lawsuits against the mandate. On Nov. 12, a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily blocked the OSHA rule, stating that the mandate contained “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” The court also rejected an appeal by the Biden administration to lift the temporary stay. In that decision, the court found that the mandate “grossly exceeds OSHA’s statutory authority.”

Many pro-life advocates take issue with the Biden administration's attempt to force individuals to take COVID-19 vaccines as a condition of employment. This is because all currently available COVID-19 vaccines were developed and/or produced through the use of stem cell lines harvested from aborted babies. The Fifth Circuit's rulings so far are a good sign for pro-life advocates who value religious freedom and oppose the abortion-related aspects of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Fifth Circuit ordered OSHA to “take no steps to implement or enforce” the OSHA rule “until further court order.” OSHA has updated its website to state that it "has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement" for the time being.

As long as the court blocks Biden's rule, OSHA cannot force businesses to impose vaccine mandates on their employees. Businesses could still potentially impose their own mandates without the federal government's involvement, however.

November 17, 2021

Baby Breaks Record as Most Premature Baby to Survive Birth

Curtis Zy-Keith Means on the day he was born
Curtis Zy-Keith Means, who was born in July 2020, was recently recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most premature baby ever to survive birth. Curtis was prematurely born at the gestational age of 21 weeks and one day, but he survived the ordeal with the help of medical care.

Michelle Butler, who was carrying twins, unexpectedly went into premature labor one day. She was rushed into emergency surgery at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama on July 4. When they were born, Curtis and his sister C'Asya had only been developing in their mother's womb for 21 weeks and one day. That is one day fewer than the youngest surviving preemie.

Unfortunately, Curtis's sister did not survive. However, this is not for lack of effort from doctors, who attempted to provide her babies with care. In cases of extreme premature birth, doctors often don't attempt to provide potentially lifesaving care to babies. As attending physician Dr. Brian Sims told KATV, “We typically advise for compassionate care in situations of such extremely preterm births. This allows the parents to hold their babies and cherish what little time they may have together.”

Some US hospitals have simply refused to treat preemies at the request of parents, but that was not the case in this situation. When Dr. Sims told Butler that her babies would not survive, Butler asked that the hospital give her babies a chance. They did, and now Curtis has passed his first birthday.

"He started writing his own story the day he was born," Dr. Sims told KATV. "That story will be read and studied by many and, hopefully, will help improve care of premature infants around the world."

Click here to read more.

November 16, 2021

Man Charged with Manslaughter for Attacking a Nurse and Killing her Preborn Baby

Joseph Wuerz
photo credit: Seminole County Sherrif's Department
After a nurse was assaulted by a patient in a Florida hospital, the patient is being charged with manslaughter for the death of her preborn baby.

Medscape reported that Marcie Marc was attacked on October 30 by 53-year-old Joseph Wuerz, who had a history of domestic violence. She was administering medication to a screaming patient when he entered the room. Marc told police that Wuerz shoved her against the wall and attempted to kick her. After hospital employees separated her from the attacker, she went to receive medical treatment. Unfortunately, her healthy child was killed in the attack.

Wuerz was jailed and charged with “manslaughter for injuring a mother and killing an unborn child; aggravated battery of a pregnant woman; and aggravated battery of a medical worker.”

Only 38 of the 50 states have fetal homicide laws to provide justice when an unborn child is killed. Those states do include both Florida and Illinois.

LiveAction has reported on testimony from Planned Parenthood arguing against such laws, however. Fetal homicide laws create the logical connection that unborn babies are human beings that deserve legal protection.

Tennessee Waiting-Period Law To Remain in Effect

After a long legal battle, a Tennessee waiting-period law is finally free of legal challenges and will remain in effect. The law requires abortion-minded women to wait at least 48 hours after visiting an abortion clinic before making the permanent decision to end the life of an unborn child.

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery issued a statement last Friday after the deadline to challenge the Sixth Circuit's decision to the Supreme Court passed.

“This law was on the books for five years before the district court enjoined it. The Sixth Circuit took the unusual step of having the full court review the district court decision and that of its own panel. We are grateful that the Court recognized the validity of a law passed by the people’s representatives and did not substitute its own judgment for the policy decision made by the legislature and the Governor,” said AG Slatery.

The appellate court used statistics from 2015-2020 to refute the argument that the waiting period law presented significant and unconstitutional hurdles to abortion access.

“It is one thing to predict that the sky will fall tomorrow,” the ruling states. “It’s quite another thing to maintain that the sky fell five years ago for women seeking abortions when the numbers tell us otherwise.”

November 15, 2021

Sen. Dick Durbin Complains about being Denied Communion for Abortion Support

In an interview with America Magazine, US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) complained about the fact that his home Catholic diocese him communion due to his public support for abortion.

Durbin has been denied communion in his home Diocese of Springfield since 2004. Durbin told America Magazine’s Jim McDermott, “I found another Catholic venue, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and a church where they were willing to let me in and allowed my wife to join me. So it’s become my new faith home.”

Durbin went on to argue that the Catholic church is hypocritical for taking softer stances against those who take conservative stances on issues such as immigration and capital punishment.

The Catholic doctrine on human life categorizes abortion as a "moral evil," and says that complicity in abortion "constitutes a grave offense." The Catholic doctrine even "attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life."

Former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput argues that the Catholic Church has good reasons not to give communion to those who outwardly oppose its teachings. He said that doing so would be “creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional … Reception of Communion is not a right but a gift and privilege; and on the subject of ‘rights,’ the believing community has a priority right to the integrity of its belief and practice.”

November 12, 2021

DC Police Drop Charges Against Pro-Lifers for Chalking Sidewalk in 2020

Over one year after arresting two pro-life activists for chalking a public sidewalk, DC police have dropped charges.

Warner DePriest and Erica Caoraletti were arrested for writing the message “Black Preborn Lives Matter” in chalk on the sidewalk outside of a Planned Parenthood. They were at a rally organized by Students for Life of America (SFLA), at which they had originally planned to paint their message on the street.

DC Mayor Bowser had opened the streets of DC to protest by commissioning a mural reading "Black Lives Matter" on 16th Street. The next day, the words "Defund the Police" were painted next to the mural, but no charges were pressed.

SFLA then received a permit to hold a rally, and informed city officials that they would paint a message on the street. “We were told verbally that we would not be prevented from painting and what kind of paint to buy,” SFLA spokesperson Kristi Hamrick wrote to the Washington Times.

Police appeared at the rally, told the group that they did not have a permit to paint on the street, and arrested DePriest and Caoraletti for writing with chalk on the sidewalk.

SFLA president Kristan Hawkins wrote in a statement that she “is celebrating today, as finally two students are cleared of any penalties for the unlikely ‘crime’ of trying to chalk BLACK PREBORN LIVES MATTER in the nation’s capital. At a moment in time when across the country people were talking about issues impacting the Black community, Students for Life and the Frederick Douglass Foundation joined together to speak for the preborn, only to be told that our speech was not welcome and was even criminal.”

Alaska Judge Temporarily Blocks Law Preventing Non-Doctors from Committing Abortions

An Alaskan Superior Court Judge issued a temporary injunction against a law that prohibits non-doctors from committing abortions.

Superior Court Judge Josie Garton's injunction allows nurses and assistants to write prescriptions for abortion pills. Garton's injunction sides with Planned Parenthood, which originally filed a lawsuit against the Alaska law in 2019.

The US Food and Drug Administration similarly limited the distribution of abortion pills through a set of regulations known as REMS until the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. REMS requirements prevented abortion pills from being made available over the internet or at retail pharmacies. Now, the Biden administration has expressed a desire to end REMS permanently.

Garton's order will prevent the law from being enforced at least until the case is decided at trial next July.

November 11, 2021

Indiana Abortion Complications Reporting Law Goes into Effect

photo credit: J. Stephen Conn / Flickr
After a three-year-long legal battle, an Indiana law requiring abortion businesses to report complications went into effect on Oct. 27.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the "Complications Statute" on August 2, thereby allowing the law to go into effect three years after it passed in 2018. The law requires doctors to report complications arising from abortions. Doctors who fail to report complications could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, spend 180 days in jail, and pay a $1,000 fine.

“This complications reporting requirement is long overdue,” said Mike Fichter, president and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “It is extremely telling that abortion businesses fought to shield these complications from being reported. Now that these reporting requirements go into effect, any abortion business refusing to comply must be denied a license renewal according to the new licensing law passed in the 2021 Indiana legislature.”

Fichter said that Indiana Right to Life will confirm with the Indiana Department of Health that abortion businesses comply with the law.

“Full compliance with the complications reporting law must be one of the many areas subject to thorough state inspections of every licensed abortion business,” said Fichter. “Complications reporting is the law, not a suggestion.”

Click here to read more.

Biden Admin's "National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality" to Promote Abortion

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr
The Biden administration has released its new strategy to promote abortion nationwide. According to the administration, the "National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality" is a “government-wide responsibility that that cuts across the work of the Biden-Harris Administration in both domestic and foreign affairs.” The administration says that it will be implemented by "every White House office and executive agency."

The plan will require executive agencies to “promote access to sexual and reproductive health and rights both at home and abroad,” and its language likens abortion to civil rights movements such as the abolition of slavery.

“From the Emancipation Proclamation, to the passage of the 19th Amendment, to the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, to the fight for reproductive rights and marriage equality — and countless movements and victories before and since — America has been strengthened through the years by our tireless pursuit of greater equity for all,” the plan reads.

Among other things, the strategy says that the administration will push to end the Hyde Amendment, expand Title X funding of abortion, fund UN organizations that promote abortion globally, and codify a federal right to abortion.

November 10, 2021

Pritzker Signs Bill Stripping Conscience Rights from Illinoisans

On Monday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed SB 1169 into law. This bill amends the Healthcare Right of Conscience Act so that Illinoisans can no longer use the law to receive exemptions from their employers' COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

SB 1169 amends the Healthcare Right of Conscience Act in such a way that none of the protections it provides can apply to measure designed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. As a result, employers could potentially discriminate against those who object to COVID-19 vaccines. Individuals could be fired or excluded from consideration for schools or jobs.

Many pro-life advocates object to vaccine mandates and apply for conscientious exemptions. This is because all currently available COVID-19 vaccines were developed and/or produced with the use of stem cell lines harvested from aborted babies.

The amendment is set to come into effect on June 1, 2022.

November 9, 2021

US Gives $5 Million for UN to Distribute Abortion Supplies Worldwide

On Nov. 1, the US State Department announced that it will give an inaugural $5 million to the United States Population Fund. The UNFPA uses contributions from donors to distribute maternal health supplies, which by their definition includes drugs and equipment designed to end the lives of the unborn.

By using UNFPA Supplies as a third party to distribute abortion-inducing items, the Biden administration is avoiding conflict with the 1973 Helms Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act. That law prohibits the use of government funds to distribute abortion-inducing items.

No prior administration in US history has funded UNFPA Supplies. This is largely due to the organization's support for abortion, its connection with China's population-controlling policies, and the UN's desire to push pro-life countries to legalize abortion.

Among other things, the UNFPA is known to distribute portable abortion devices called manual vacuum aspirator kits, and the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and MSI Reproductive Health (formerly Marie Stopes International) are two of the organizations that receive materials from UNFPA.

Click here to read more.

Federal Court Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate for Businesses

A three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction on Nov. 6 to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees.

The mandate specifically troubles pro-life workers who take issue with the fact that all currently available COVID-19 vaccines were developed and/or produced with the use of stem cell lines harvested from aborted babies.

The Biden mandate, which was set to take effect on Jan. 4, would require employers to “develop, implement, and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy” or have their workers “undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work in lieu of vaccination.”

The temporary injunction was made after a group of businesses and the states of Texas, Utah, Mississippi filed lawsuits against the Biden administration. All of these parties argued that they would be negatively affected by the mandate, and the judges were inclined to agree with them.

The Fifth Circuit wrote in its decision that the petitioners' arguments, “give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.” Arguments in the case have been expedited to begin this week. The petitioners have motioned for the court to issue a permanent injunction against the mandate.

November 8, 2021

Build Back Better Reconciliation Bill would Expand Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

The multi-trillion dollar "Build Back Better" (BBB) reconciliation spending bill (HR 5376) being considered by federal legislators would create several avenues through which taxpayer dollars would fund elective abortion.

The BBB bill includes several provisions that are not regulated by the Hyde Amendment, which has been a bipartisan addition to every federal appropriations bill for decades. Because of this, federal tax dollars allocated under the bill will be able to subsidize elective abortion. This spending could come from entities such as the Department of Health and Human Services and programs such as Medicaid.

The BBB reconciliation bill would mandate that states cover abortion under Obamacare plans. The 2010 Obamacare law allowed states to pass laws banning abortion coverage in their state exchanges, and 25 states currently passed such laws. If the BBB bill is passed, many of these state laws will be overridden.

Additionally, the BBB bill would increase subsidies for Obamacare through 2025. This means that Obamacare plans will have more taxpayer funding available to them that can be used to subsidize elective abortions.

Finally, the BBB bill would allow billions of dollars to be allocated through "public health grants." These funds could be used to fund abortion training and research or used to enable abortion-expansive policies.

Judge's Injunction Blocks Biden from Firing Employees with Pending Religious Exemptions

On Oct. 29th, a district judge in Washington D.C. issued a temporary injunction preventing plaintiffs in the case from being fired for not complying with the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate while they have pending religious exemptions.

Many pro-life advocates have applied for religious exemptions from the Biden mandate. This is because all currently available COVID-19 vaccines were developed and/or produced using lines of stem cells harvested from aborted babies.

Bill Clinton appointed District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued the restraining order after civilian and military plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Biden vaccine mandate. “None of the civilian employee plaintiffs will be subject to discipline while his or her request for a religious exception is pending,” Kollar-Kotelly wrote in the order.

Her ruling continued, stating that, “active duty military plaintiffs, whose religious exception requests have been denied, will not be disciplined or separated during the pendency of their appeals.” She further noted that the Biden administration has provided “no guarantee of what will happen … if their exemption requests are denied.”

The plaintiffs' attorney Michael Yoder praised the judge's decision, saying, we are one step closer to putting the Biden administration back in its place by limiting government to its enumerated powers. It’s time citizens and courts said no to tyranny. The Constitution does not need to be rewritten, it needs to be reread.”

Click here to read more.

November 5, 2021

European Abortionist Sends Abortion Pills from India to Texas Women

Netherland abortionist Rebecca Gomperts has vowed to continue sending abortion pills to the United States to circumvent pro-life US laws.

Gomperts founded the organizations Women on Waves and Aid Access to distribute abortion pills in places where abortion is restricted or prohibited. According to Live Action, Gomperts has used drones to drop abortion pills in Poland and attempted to use a Dutch ship to bring abortion to Guatemala. In the latter instance, she was turned away by the Guatemalan army, which pointed out that her only purpose in the country was to violate its constitution.

Gomperts and Aid Access are now focused on distributing abortion pills in Texas by having them mailed from India.

“We have nine U.S. providers who are licensed and serving 18 states, and then, if you’re in any of the other states, then Dr. Gomperts is the provider for the other states,” Christie Pitney of Aid Access told KHOU, a Houston-based television station. “We have a unique opportunity with Dr. Gomperts being in Europe that we’re able to provide telehealth abortion to all 50 states.”

“Being outside in Europe, kind of puts her in this nice gray area where she’s still able to provide that care,” Pitney continued. “It’s essential healthcare that everyone should have access to and so we’re going to continue to provide that care.”

Click here to read more.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Texas Heartbeat Act Case

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in two cases challenging Texas's Heartbeat Act. The Heartbeat Act allows individuals to file lawsuits against those who participate in the abortion of unborn babies with detectable heartbeats (children of 6 weeks gestation or older). Those cases are Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson and United States v. Texas.

Neither of these cases challenges the constitutionality of a law prohibiting the abortion of children whose heartbeats are detectable. Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson is a challenge to the law's unique enforcement method. In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court is only considering whether the Biden administration even has the legal standing the sue Texas in federal court.

Whole Women's Health and the Biden administration argued that the Texas law violates the "right" to abortion established under Roe v. Wade, while Texas Solicitor General Judd E. Stone argued that neither party had the legal standing to sue the state. He argued that Texas judges, court clerks, and other officials are not responsible for enforcing the law. He argued that because the Heartbeat Act is enforced by the individuals who file lawsuits, the state of Texas is not the appropriate defendant for these challenges.

The court is more likely to address the "right" to abortion more directly when Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization is heard next month. In that case, abortion businesses are challenging a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks gestation. Mississippi's Attorney General is framing the case as a direct challenge to the Supreme Court Precedent established in cases such as Roe v. Wade.

Click here to read more.

November 4, 2021

District Court Issues Restraining Order Against Illinois Hospital Firing Employees over Vaccine Mandate

Last Friday, US District Judge John Kness issued a temporary restraining order against NorthShore University HealthSystem. The organization will be (at least temporarily) blocked from firing 14 employees who have been denied religious exemptions from a COVID shot mandate.

The employees have filed religious exemptions due to the connection that all currently available COVID-19 vaccines have with abortion. The vaccines were all developed and/or produced using a line of stem cells harvested from aborted babies.

NorthShore operates hospitals in Evanston, Highland Park, Glenview, Arlington Heights, Skokie, and Chicago.

The court set November 16 as the date for a preliminary injunction hearing. Liberty Counsel, who is serving as legal counsel for the 14 employees, says that it will file a brief with the court to provide legal relief for the entire class of healthcare workers.

During the fall veto session, the Illinois General Assembly passed an amendment to the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act that would take away the conscience rights currently being exercised by the employees in this case. If that legislation becomes effective, it may become much more difficult for Illinoisans to defend their conscience rights as they relate to COVID-19 shot mandates.

Catholic Nurse Wins Lawsuit Against Illinois County that Fired her for Refusing to Support Abortion

Sandra Rojas
photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom
Catholic pediatric nurse Sandra Rojas, who was fired from the Winnebago County Health Department for refusing to refer women for abortions, won her wrongful termination suit against the county last Thursday.

The 17th Judicial Circuit Court ruled that it was unlawful for the Winnebago County Health Department to fire her in 2015. Judge Eugene Doherty wrote in his opinion that “The Court has concluded that the Health Department could have reasonably accommodated [Rojas’] objections without removing her from her job,” and therefore, “The Health Department improperly discriminated against Plaintiff by refusing to accommodate her objections of conscience…”

Rojas had worked as a pediatric nurse for the county for 18 years before 2015. During that year, a new policy was instituted which compelled nurses to refer women for abortions and help them obtain abortion pills. According to Rojas's Catholic beliefs, abortion is considered a sin, and she cannot cooperate with it.

“No American should be forced to refer for abortions or assist patients in accessing abortifacients – least of all medical workers who entered the profession to follow their faith and save lives, not take them,” stated Alliance Defending Freedom lead Noel counsel Sterett. “The court’s decision is a win for all health care professionals throughout Illinois. Healthcare professionals should not be required to violate their conscience to keep their jobs.”

The 17th Circuit used the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act as the basis for its decision. Democratic lawmakers recently voted to amend this law to prevent pro-lifers from using it to receive exemptions from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. All currently available COVID vaccines were developed and/or produced with the use of STEM cell lines harvested from aborted babies. While the amendment would not affect a ruling like this, it shows a willingness by pro-abortion politicians to infringe upon the conscience rights of pro-life advocates. Pro-lifers need to watch out and work to prevent religious freedoms like the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act from eroding.

November 3, 2021

March for Life Announces 2022 Theme: "Equality Begins in the Womb"

The March for Life organization announced last week that the 2022 March for Life theme will be "Equality Begins in the Womb."

March for Life issued a press release on October 27 to announce the new theme. The theme emphasizes the fact that human beings can face harsh discrimination before even being born. While in the womb, they aren't guaranteed the basic right to life. March for Life hopes to rally people to fight for that basic human right.

“From our nation’s birth, our founders recognized the dignity inherent to all people, making each one of us equal in our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” wrote Jeanne Mancini, President of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. “Because of this, Americans have fought for centuries to advance equality for every person, regardless of race, sex, or disability status. It has taken centuries, but discrimination is now acknowledged as unacceptable just about everywhere in America. Everywhere, that is, except in the womb.”

Click here to read more.

7th Circuit Denies Planned Parenthood Request to Rehear Complications Reporting Law

Last Thursday, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by Planned Parenthood for the full court to rehear its challenge to an Indiana law requiring abortion businesses to report complications.

Planned Parenthood argued that the reporting law is "unconstitutionally vague," but the court disagreed. By refusing to rehear the case before the full court, the court upheld a decision it made in August, which overturned a permanent injunction blocking the reporting law's enforcement.

The Indiana law, which was passed in 2018, lists 25 types of complications that should be reported to the state if they occur. When the 7th Circuit originally upheld the statute in August, the opinion of the three-judge panel stated, “It is understandable by persons of ordinary intelligence and not subject to arbitrary enforcement.”

Click here to read more.