Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 14
No. 1
February, 2020

US: Pro-Life Strong 47 Years After Legalization of Abortion on Demand

Forty-seven years after legal access to abortion throughout pregnancy was imposed on the United States by the Supreme Court, and after the loss of over 60 million preborn children, unprecedented pro-life wins are taking place on the federal, state and international levels to protect women and preborn children from the violence of abortion. There is agreement from both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates that efforts to protect life beginning at its most vulnerable stage-in the womb-are advancing at all levels of government.
President Trump and the Trump administration have made changes in policy to advance respect for the dignity of life beginning at conception both in the US and internationally raising the fears of pro-abortion activists, especially concerned at the loss of foreign assistance funds to organizations that promote or perform abortion as a method of family planning and work in population control and health fields.
March for Life
Thousands of pro-lifers marched in Washington, D.C. for the 47th annual March for Life this January under the theme "Life Empowers: Pro-Life is Pro-Woman". For the first time, they were joined by the sitting president of the United States. "Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House," said President Donald Trump, who told the crowd he was proud to stand with them. "Young people are the heart of the March for Life, and it's your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation. The pro-life movement is led by strong women, amazing faith leaders, and brave students that carry on the legacy of the pioneers before us," said President Trump.
The president's words reached Archbishop Emeritus Héctor Aguer of La Plata, Argentina, who praised President Trump for his appearance at the 2020 March for Life and for his "magnificent speech, a commitment, an extraordinary defense of life" in a video to Argentines in which he encouraged them to fight efforts to decriminalize abortion in Argentina and to march in defense of life.
President Trump in his State of the Union address reminded everyone that "every child is a miracle of life" after introducing 2 year-old Ellie who was born at just 21 weeks, 6 days and weighing less than a pound. He applauded new medical breakthroughs that are enabling babies born prematurely to survive and stated that the goal should be to ensure that "every baby has the best chance to thrive and grow just like Ellie" and requested Congress to "provide an additional $50 million to fund neo-natal research for America's youngest patients."
He also called upon Members of Congress "to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies" and said, "Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God!"
In his Proclamation on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, January 22, the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision, President Trump stated, "Every person - the born and unborn, the poor, the downcast, the disabled, the infirm, and the elderly - has inherent value." His commitment to the protection of life and his gratefulness to all those who defend the precious gift of life were highlighted in the Proclamation:
"As a Nation, we must remain steadfastly dedicated to the profound truth that all life is a gift from God, who endows every person with immeasurable worth and potential. Countless Americans are tireless defenders of life and champions for the vulnerable among us. We are grateful for those who support women experiencing unexpected pregnancies, those who provide healing to women who have had abortions, and those who welcome children into their homes through foster care and adoption. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we celebrate the wonderful gift of life and renew our resolve to build a culture where life is always revered."
In the closing words of the Proclamation, President Trump called upon Congress to join him in "protecting and defending the dignity of every human life, including those not yet born". 
The Trump Administration has been actively advancing life-affirming policies and initiatives including conscience protection laws and restricting domestic family planning funding to organizations that "perform, promote, refer for, or support abortion as a method of family planning."
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar recently reiterated that there is an "international right to life" but "no international right to abortion" in a private meeting with representatives of 35 like-minded countries. He acknowledged the relentless international abortion lobbying that operates in the halls of the United Nations and the WHO (World Health Organization) which seeks to normalize the terms 'sexual and reproductive health' and 'reproductive rights'.
He asked the diplomats in attendance, "What reproductive rights are they talking about? In this context, it is increasingly becoming clear that some U.N. agencies and countries want this to mean unfettered access to abortion, and we cannot let this threat go unanswered."
Secretary Azar stated that President Donald Trump "has been clear, at the U.N. and on the world stage: Health care exists to improve health and preserve human life - the universal goal we all share."
The president of the International Women's Health Coalition, one of the loudest pro-abortion activist groups which consistently criticizes pro-life actions by the administration, addressed the tremendous impact that the Trump administration is having. She said, "For better or worse, the US has an outsize impact on how the rest of the world addresses issues ranging from climate action and foreign aid to diplomacy and human rights." The organization promotes abortion as a so-called "human right".
US Congress
No changes to laws and policies on abortion have taken place in Congress, including efforts by a number of Democrats in the House to overturn the Hyde Amendment restricting Medicaid funding for abortion. A promise to veto any bill that reaches his desk that removes or weakens pro-life policy was issued by President Trump and has acted as a deterrent. The result is the continuation of pro-life policies maintained as "pro-life riders" to funding bills.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a recent hearing entitled "The Infant Patient: Ensuring Appropriate Medical Care for Children Born Alive" chaired by U.S. Senator Ben Sasse, who re-introduced the bipartisan Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.  
In his opening remarks, Sen. Sasse stated: "This hearing is about making sure that every newborn baby has a fighting chance - whether she's born in a labor and delivery ward or she's born in an abortion clinic...That's all it does. It makes sure that a baby that is born alive during a botched abortion would be given the same level of medical care that would be provided to any other baby at that same gestational stage. I think we need to underscore this because we're probably going to hear lots of things surrounding the hearing that are about other topics."
Witness testimonies are available on this site. Videos of senators and witnesses can be viewed here
PNCI notes that medical advances have now made it possible for some babies born at 22 weeks to survive providing they receive the right medical treatment and care. The British Association of Perinatal Medicine updated its guidance based on evidence of babies who survived premature birth at 22 weeks according to the BBC's "Babies born at 22 weeks 'can now survive'". 
House Pro-Life Caucus co-chair, Rep Chris Smith, addressed the March for Life with a message to "Be Encouraged". His remarks included, "Several pro-abortion legislative assaults on life were stopped in Congress last month by the skill, determination and commitment of pro-life lawmakers backed by the ironclad promise of a presidential veto".  
"We're making progress. Be encouraged I say again, be encouraged." Rep Smith also addressed the pro-life movement in an opinion editorial, "Violence and inhumanity of abortion requires that we speak outin which he explained the failure of the Democrat controlled House to allow votes on bills related to late-term abortion:
"Federal legislation cosponsored by more than 190 Members of Congress to rescue children born alive during later-term abortions has been denied even a vote in the House of Representatives." Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
"Federal legislation cosponsored by more than 170 members of Congress to protect unborn children from the pain and agony of dismemberment at 20 weeks gestation remains bottled up in the Judiciary Committee." Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Smith wrote, "The pro-life struggle is not only on the side of human rights, responsible medicine, compassion, justice and inclusion, but is on the right side of history as well." 
"Someday, future generations will look back on the United States and wonder how and why such a seemingly enlightened society, so blessed and endowed with education, advanced science, information, wealth and opportunity could have systematically enabled the death of millions of children."  
The March for Life - and the selfless pro-lifers who daily struggle for justice - will be remembered as an amazing outpouring of love and compassion for the "least of these" - a group of children who by reason of their age, sex, condition of dependency and disability cannot defend themselves." 
States a Battleground for Abortion Laws
2019 was an encouraging legislative year for pro-life policies. 59 pro-life protections were passed by states, including state bans on abortion, heartbeat laws, conscience protections, and late-term abortion bans, among others. Abortion clinics across the country have closed, sparking outrage from abortion activists, who have labeled 27 major U.S. cities as "abortion deserts", (lacking a clinic within 100 miles), and lament that 6 states have 1 remaining abortion clinic.
While a step in the right direction, several pro-life laws have been blocked by the courts and await judicial review. Further, abortion supporters remain strong and proponents are actively focusing on the state legislatures. Last year, several states passed legislation to further increase access to abortion, including laws permitting abortion up to the moment of birth.
One pro-abortion news report declared"There's no denying it-2019 was a bleak year for reproductive rights. Nine states passed bills restricting abortion access. Alabama voted to ban abortions almost entirely, with states like Georgia, Kentucky, and Ohio prohibiting abortions from taking place after the first six weeks. The federal government, meanwhile, gave millions in Title X family planning funding to anti-abortion clinics, spurred on by the president's use of strong anti-abortion rhetoric."
US Supreme Court
The Supreme Court will have its first hearing of an abortion case since President Trump appointed two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. In March, the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the June Medical Services v. Gee - a case that focuses on a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges for emergency cases. The Louisiana law was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Over 200 Members of Congress signed an amicus brief for the case. The 39 Senators and 168 House representatives requested the court to reconsider the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision in light that "it remains a radically unsettled precedent". The pro-life lawmakers write that the "right to abortion" is not workable and "the need for the Court to take up the issue of whether Roe and [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled."
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that an amicus brief was filed by pro-abortion members of Congress in which they urged the Supreme Court to uphold the current legal status of abortion and strike down state laws that seek to protect women and children from the violence of abortion. The brief stated, "The Supreme Court's long-standing precedents recognizing women's reproductive rights under the Constitution cannot be defied by states creating obstacles under false pretenses to push those rights out of reach."
"Anti-choice activists are doing everything they can to eliminate American women's ability to make their own healthcare decisions.  If the Supreme Court upholds Louisiana's Act 620, it will legitimize efforts to pass laws that create significant burdens for women seeking abortions even when those laws provide no medical benefit," said Senator Schumer.  
Planned Parenthood's Acting President Alexis McGill Johnson reacted to the upcoming case: "We're already living in a world where there are abortion deserts, where it's difficult to access. When you layer on this case, which, if it doesn't overturn Roe will have the impact of ... effectively gutting Roe, the work that we have to do is really push back," she said.
Johnson advised to expect "more of the same" in 2020: "We expect to see more of the targeted restrictions against abortion providers, limiting their ability to provide access to services or we will see more intense scrutiny and burdens put, placed ... on the person seeking the abortion."

Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues
Advancing global respect and dignity for life through law and policy.

In This Double Issue

US: Pro-Life Strong 47 Years after Legalization of Abortion on Demand
March for Life
President Trump and the Trump Administration
US Congress
States: A Battleground for Abortion Laws
US Supreme Court
Defending Life
Ireland: Pro-Life Lawmakers Re-elected
Focus on the United Nations
UN Women: Advancing Abortion in the Name of Equality 
International Pressure for Abortion
Ipas: Promoting Access to Abortion in Kenya and Nigeria
Doctors Without Borders Provides Online Abortion Instructions 
FIGO Advancing Abortion in Ten African Countries, Panama and Peru
European Funding for Abortion, Fears Over US Pro-Life Administration
SheDecides Recognizes MPs Promoting Abortion
Legislative News
Mexico: Abortion bill defeated in State of Hidalgo
EU: Workshop for European Parliament Staff Focuses on Strategies to Promote Reproductive Rights
EU: Nordic MEPs Send Trump Letter Protesting Mexico City Policy
India: Proposed Bill Will Expand Access to Abortion
Isle of Man: Parliament Kills Assisted Suicide Measure
Judicial News
Colombia: Challenge to Legal Abortion
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