Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 12
No. 1
February, 2018
 
Defending life
1,193 State Restrictions on Abortion Since Roe v Wade
In the 45 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, state legislatures have moved to protect women and unborn children from the violence of abortion by enacting 1,193 restrictions on abortion according to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute. It theorizes that "58% of American women of reproductive age lived in a state considered either hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights in 2017. Only 30% of women lived in a state supportive of abortion rights."
 
Guttmacher reports that the  last seven years account for 34% of the restrictions enacted by states since 1973. Its analysis of state restrictions identifies 29 states that have adopted enough abortion restrictions to be "considered either hostile (6 states) or extremely hostile (23 states) to abortion rights, with Iowa and West Virginia entering the hostile group for the first time."
 
States are ranked on 10 major types of abortion restrictions: parental involvement before a minor's abortion; mandated pre abortion counseling; waiting period after abortion counseling at a clinic; mandating an ultrasound before an abortion; banning Medicaid funding of abortion except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest; restricting abortion coverage in private health plans; imposing restrictions on medication abortion; requiring 'onerous' regulations on abortion facilities; imposing an unconstitutional ban on abortion before viability or limits on abortion after viability; and "enacting a preemptive ban on abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned".
 
According to the rankings, a state is considered "supportive of abortion rights if it has no more than one of these restrictions, a middle-ground state if it has 2-3, a hostile state if it has 4-5 and an extremely hostile state if it has 6-10."
US: Protection for the Unborn on the March in Washington
Tens of thousands of pro-lifers from around the country gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 45th annual March for Life. The theme of this year's march, "Love Saves Lives", emphasized that choosing life is a loving, empowering, and self-sacrificial option, even if it is not always the easiest. The theme reflected the heart of the pro-life movement which has always been to provide love and support to women and their children, offering alternatives to abortion that respect and values the lives of both mother and baby.
 
The March featured the first video address ever by a president as President Donald Trump addressed a smaller group in the Rose Garden and was broadcast live via satellite to the March. The president's remarks including the following:
 
"Today, tens of thousands of families, students, and patriots - and, really, just great citizens - gather here in our nation's capital.  You come from many backgrounds, many places.  But you all come for one beautiful cause: to build a society where life is celebrated, protected, and cherished.
 
The March for Life is a movement born out of love.  You love your families, you love your neighbors, you love our nation, and you love every child, born and unborn, because you believe that every life is sacred, that every child is a precious gift from God. 
 
 We know that life is the greatest miracle of all.  We see it in the eyes of every new mother who cradles that wonderful, innocent, and glorious newborn child in her loving arms.
 
I want to thank every person here today and all across our country who works with such big hearts and tireless devotion to make sure that parents have the care and support they need to choose life.  Because of you, tens of thousands of Americans have been born and reached their full, God-given potential - because of you."
 
President Trump also proclaimed January 22, 2018 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day.
 
A large delegation of pro-life Members of Congress was present on the stage at the March for Life which featured inspirational and encouraging speeches from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Rep Chris Smith, co-chair of the Pro-Life Caucus.
 
Read more here.
Chile: Return of Pro-Life President Piñera
Past pro-life president Sebastian Piñera was elected to serve a new term beginning in March 2018 following the term of pro-abortion President Michele Bachelet who oversaw the legalization of abortion in Chile. Piñera, who in the past has been recognized for his pro-life stand, has vowed that the "state will always be pro-life". It is expected that Piñera will impede implementation of Chile's August 2017 legalization of abortion for three exceptions but without majority party support in Congress or the Senate, his Chile Vamos (Let's Go Chile) coalition will not be able to overturn the new law.
 
Pro-abortion organizations fear that under Piñera restrictions or additional requirements for abortion might be enacted. Human Rights Watch has said that it expects Piñera will "attempt to push an anti-abortion rights agenda". Its regional director stated, "The law requires information and training of healthcare providers, and positive measures to ensure the access of women to the procedure, considering the large number of conscientious objectors that we will have in public and private hospitals, it is probable that current plans to put those measures in place will be suspended under the new government."
 
Cabinet choices recently announced reveal the filling of two key positions with advocates for the right to life of unborn children. Isabel Plá, the new minister for women and gender equality, and the new health minister, Emilio Santelices, were both vocal opponents of the legalization of abortion.
International pressure for abortion
US: State Legislators Pro-Abortion Network Formed
A new network of U.S. state legislators has formed to push back against restrictions on abortion. The Reproductive Leadership Council was formed by the State Innovation Exchange (SiX)to address what it calls a "patchwork landscape of abortion access across the country". 200 state legislators from 40 states joined the network committing to "leading on reproductive rights, health, and justice by promoting a bold, unapologetic stance in favor of abortion rights and embracing the role state lawmakers play in protecting and advancing those rights." The list of legislators can be found here.
US: Democratic Party Pushing Out Pro-Life Party Members
Only six Democrats in the House joined Republicans in passing the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act. Rep. Dan Lipinski, Democrat co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, has been targeted for defeat in his party's primary election by fellow Democrats because of his pro-life position. In a rare move, liberal Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez recently endorsed Rep Lipinski's primary challenger in the upcoming election. This is the latest move in a trend to conform the Democratic party to one that only represents the liberal pro-abortion point of view. However, a recent Marist poll shows that 25 percent of Democrats identify as pro-life and 61 percent of Democrats would like to limit abortion to the first trimester. It appears that Rep. Dan Lipinski is not the one out of touch with the views of Democrat voters.
Ireland: Referendum for Repeal of Eighth Amendment Set for May
Ireland, which has long protected the lives of both mothers and unborn children and has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates in the world, will vote on whether or not it will abandon its pro-life protection of the unborn. The government announced it will hold a referendum on the country's pro-life eighth amendment this May. The eighth amendment to Ireland's constitution protects equally the mother's and the child's right to life.
 
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced the vote which will ask citizens to choose to retain the amendment or repeal the amendment and give parliament the responsibility of legislating on the legalization of abortion. Varadkar, who leads the center-right Fine Gael party, said that he will campaign to change Irish law to allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, abandoning his pro-life position.
 
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also announced that he had changed his mind following the report by the Oireachtas committee and will now support legislation legalizing abortion in Ireland. Fianna Fáil's members in parliament were described as "stunned" by his unexpected declaration.
 
Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin, head of the Irish bishops' bioethics committee, responded, "If society accepts that one human being has the right to end the life of another, then it is no longer possible to claim the right to life as a fundamental human right for anybody."
 
He warned in a pastoral letter about giving the government a "blank check" to impose any abortion regime it wanted:  "Promises made before the referendum would not in any sense be binding.  What the Committee is asking is that citizens would give the government a blank check.  I have never been comfortable writing blank checks."
 
Bishop Doran also expressed concern that according to some of the proposals, abortion would be provided through primary care physicians and family doctors, "This would radically change the ethos of medicine, which was always about healing the sick and preventing disease. Abortion has nothing to do with healthcare."
 
The bishop explained in detail the changes the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment outlined in its report which include:
 
-abortion up to twelve weeks, with no restriction as to reason;
 
-abortion right up to the time of birth, if doctors believe the baby is likely to die before birth or shortly afterwards;
 
-abortion on the grounds of risk to the life or health of the woman, with health defined in such a way as to include mental health.
 
He cautioned, "These proposals are significantly more liberal than the current law in Britain, where slightly more than one in five unborn children are aborted every year. In Britain, all abortion is theoretically on the grounds of health, but the extension of the health ground to include risk to the mental health of the mother provides, in practice, for abortion on demand."
YouTube and How to Use Pills for Illegal Abortion
Following removal of a few videos instructing women on how to use abortion-inducing drugs from YouTube, abortion activists are currently targeting the website in a campaign to keep the videos available. Women on Web, notorious for helping women commit illegal abortion with abortion drugs, has taken the lead declaring:
 "By censoring information on safe abortion, YouTube may contribute to morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortion. By removing the video channels, YouTube violates the right to freedom of information under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Human Rights Convention. Women on Waves and Women on Web have filed a complaint with YouTube and will consider legal steps if YouTube does not put the information back online."
One video that was censored by YouTube was in Argentina, 'how to have an abortion,' http://comohacerseunaborto.com. The radical feminist organization responsible for the video stated, "Considering that YouTube shut down the videos of Women on Web and Women on Waves two days earlier, we are of the view that what happened was not a coincidence. We publicly denounce YouTube for a policy of censorship of feminist struggles. We hope YouTube will reverse this decision, as it did with the Women on Web and Women on Waves videos after media coverage."
The NGOs have devised a YouTube campaign: 
"...what is happening is not anti-abortion censorship by YouTube, but rather that local anti-abortion groups may be making complaints to YouTube and asking for a specific video to be taken down. So YouTube takes it down. Then the group who made the video asks YouTube to reinstate it, and mostly it seems, YouTube reinstates it.
We still don't know whether YouTube themselves don't want to publish specific videos because they are about abortion. But there are so many videos posted on YouTube about abortion that it would seem unlikely they have an anti-abortion policy. Perhaps they have rules about not selling medicines in videos, for example medical abortion pills, so we need to know what those rules are.
We could write a letter to YouTube (and perhaps Facebook and Twitter too) saying some of our members/colleagues have had videos/posts on safe abortion taken down, which we are concerned about, and although most of them have been restored after the group concerned contacts them, we would like to ask:
1) what type of complaints they have received that have led them to take a video down
2) whether the complaints came from groups that may be anti-abortion
3) did they think the video broke any of their rules, and if so, which rules
4) who takes these decisions, is it the same office internationally, or at regional/national offices, and
5) whether they would be willing to contact the video owner before taking a video down.
Focus on the United Nations
Working to turn a generation pro-abortion through CSE
A set of radical guidelines for comprehensive sex education (CSE) has been launched by the UNESCO along with UNAIDS, UNFPA, UN Women and World Health Organization (WHO) as part of Education 2030 Agenda to help countries achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."
 
International technical guidance on sexuality education seeks to influence youth in countries around the world--tomorrow's leaders--on all issues under the broad banner of 'sexual and reproductive health and rights'. While a majority of countries today have varying levels of restrictions on abortion, the underlying radical ideology espoused in the Guidelines seeks to turn tomorrow's leaders to the pro-abortion mentality, and more, by the time the SDGs are achieved in 2030.
 
The Guidelines are presented as "judgement-free" but in reality only represent one view and one judgment that often is in conflict with national laws and religious and cultural values. 
Access to abortion is presented as a right for young women and girls through use of standard pro-abortion arguments with no mention that many believe abortion is a violent act that destroys a unique human being or that legal abortion can cause physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual complications for women.
 
To overcome the core belief in the sanctity of life, the Guidelines recommend that those teaching CSE depict religious and cultural values as mere "factors" that evolve over time: "Social, cultural and religious factors influence what is considered acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviour in society, and these factors evolve over time."
 
Pro-abortion activists at the UN and pro-abortion organizations are applauding the Guidelines. Pro-abortion fund She Decides expressed its support for the Guidelines giving credence to the concern that the Guidelines seek to teach a radical pro-abortion view stating:"Comprehensive sexuality education is integral to ensuring SheDecides, and we hope these guidelines are embraced and implemented internationally."
 

Legislative News
US: House passes Born Alive Abortion Survivor's Protection Act
Moments before the March for Life began in Washington, the House of Representatives passed the Born Alive Abortion Survivor's Protection Act, H.R. 4712 to protect the lives of babies who survive an abortion. The bill, which passed by a vote of 241-183, will strengthen current law-- the 2002 Born Alive Infants Protection Act-- by requiring health care practitioners "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age" and "ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital."  
 
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy explained: "This bill states simply that if a baby is born after a failed abortion attempt, he or she should be given the same medical care as a baby born any other way. In line with our longstanding commitment to empower women, mothers will never be held criminally accountable. However, doctors who fail to provide medical care to newborns will be held criminally accountable. There is absolutely no ambiguity here. This is about protecting babies who are born and alive, and nobody should be against that."
US: Majority in Senate Want to Ban Late Term Abortion
A majority in the U.S. Senate supported a procedural vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to ban abortion after the fifth month of pregnancy. The United States has one of the most extreme abortion policies in the world joining China, North Korea, Canada, the Netherlands, Singapore and Vietnam in permitting elective abortions after 20 weeks. The vote of 51-46 expressed support for the legislation and for stopping a filibuster on the legislation but was not enough to overcome the required 60 votes. The bill, passed by the House in October, 2017, had bipartisan support with Senate Democrats Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania voting in favor of banning on abortions at the point when unborn babies can feel pain. Two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine opposed the ban.
 
Sponsor of the bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), stated after defeat of the bill that he has not given up the fight for protection of the unborn and believed that the debate helped to win hearts and minds.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the failure of the Senate to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act "appalling". In an official statement he said,
"The U.S. Senate's failure to adopt the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibiting abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization, is appalling. Abortions performed in the second half of pregnancy usually involve brutally dismembering a defenseless unborn child, while also posing serious dangers to his or her mother. The Senate's rejection of this common-sense legislation is radically out of step with most Americans. Opinion polls consistently show that a strong majority of the public opposes late-term abortions-including those who self-identify as 'pro-choice'."
Poland: Parliament stops pro-abortion push and advances pro-life protections
The Polish parliament voted down legislation to legalize abortion, rejecting a proposal to make abortion available on demand for the first twelve weeks of gestation. Current law prohibits abortion with exceptions for cases of rape or incest, life or health of the mother, or fetal disability within the first trimester. The parliament also voted to refer a bill to ban certain abortions to a parliamentary committee for further consideration. The "stop abortion" bill, a citizens' initiative bill, would ban abortions on unborn babies diagnosed with a congenital disorder. Introducing the legislation, MP Kaja Godek with Life and Family Foundation told MPs that "We have come to parliament today because we don't want hospitals turning into abattoirs". The bill, which awaits further action by the committee, is supported by the conservative ruling party and President President Andrzej Duda.
UK: Second reading of conscience protection bill
The UK House of Lords held the second reading of a bill to protect the conscience rights of medical personnel. Introduced by Baroness O'Loan, the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill would guarantee that health care professionals could not be discriminated against for choosing not to participate in abortion procedures and the removal of life-sustaining treatment. While current law, the Abortion Act of 1967, does include conscience rights, recent reports indicate that in practice, pro-life doctors and nurses face discrimination if they refuse to participate in life-ending procedures. The bill now awaits committee action.
Executive News
US: New federal office created to protect conscience rights
The Trump Administration has created a new federal office on "Conscience and Religious Freedom", supporting medical personnel who oppose specific procedures on religious grounds. The new office will be part of the Deparment of Health and Human Service's Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan explained, "The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free, and OCR's new division will help make that vision a reality." 

The new division seeks to ensure that no person is forced to participate in an abortion, euthanasia, or similar procedure that compromises their belief. Pro-life groups celebrated the move, with Americans United for Life's chief legal officer Steven Aden calling it "a strong step forward for pro-life community and for all people."
Judicial News
US: Tennessee Court Rules Abortion is Not a Constitutional Right
Tennessee's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to uphold a pro-life constitutional amendment. The case centered around a state vote on a measure amending Tennessee's state constitution. The amendment, which states, "Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion," was passed with 53 percent of the vote in November 2014. Abortion supporters filed the case arguing that per state law, only those voters who voted for the Governor could vote on the referendum. 

The 6th Circuit Court ruled that no voter rights were hindered. "It appears that every Tennessee voter was free to vote his or her conscience on the amendment and for governor," said the ruling. "This is a great victory for the people of Tennessee whose compassion and concern for the protection of human life is vindicated again today," said Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life.
India: Courts Give Contradictory Rulings on Late-Term Abortions
The Bombay High Court has ruled that a mother can abort her 29 week old unborn baby because he has a disability. This is the second case in the past year where an Indian court has approved an abortion based on the unborn baby's prenatal diagnosis. Current law in India bans abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions for rape/incest or fetal anomalies. The mother's lawyer argued that the mental trauma associated with the pregnancy was a threat to her life and health, raising concern that the case could set a precedent for future cases.
 
In contrast, a Gujarat high court ruled that a 14 year-old pregnant through rape cannot abort her 32 week unborn baby. The judges, calling it the 'toughest decision', called for the government to establish clear guidelines on late-term abortion. "Though the medical community is still debating the ethics of late-term abortions, it is important for India to have the discussion and for the government to draw up clear guidelines for all unwanted pregnancies beyond 20 weeks. Cases cannot be left entirely up to the discretion of the doctors whose opinions may not be based on medicine alone," ruled the court.

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

In this issue

 
Defending life
1,193 State Restrictions on Abortion since Roe v Wade
US: Protection for the Unborn on the March in Washington
Chile: Return of Pro-Life President Piñera
 
International Pressure for Abortion
State legislators network
US: Democratic party pushing out pro-life party members
Ireland: Referendum for Repeal of Eighth Amendment Set for May
YouTube and How to Use Pills for Illegal Abortion
 
United Nations
Working to Turn a Generation Pro-Abortion through CSE
 
Legislative News
US: House passes Born Alive Abortion Survivor's Protection Act
Majority in US Senate Want to Ban Late Term Abortion
Poland: Parliament stops push for more abortion and advances further pro-life protections
UK: Second reading of conscience protection bill
 
Executive News
US: New Federal office created to protect conscience rights
 
Judicial News
US: Tennessee Court rules abortion is not a constitutional right
India: Courts give contradictory rulings on late-term abortions

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