Parliamentary Network E-News

Volume 17
No. 1
February, 2023
Focus on the United States

VP Harris’s Medication Scare Tactic as Decision on Mifepristone Nears

Vice President Kamala Harris is resorting to the scare tactic that the Texas court decision on access to mifepristone for abortion will affect the availability of other medications as well. She met at the White House with representatives of leading pro-abortion legal, medical and activist organizations to strategize over what the White House called threats to medication abortion in anticipation of the decision from the Northern District Court of Texas in the case of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The case seeks to overturn the FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone for use in RU486 abortion. 
AHM is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom which underscores the significance of the case stating: “If the judge issues an injunction, the current protocol for medication abortion will be prohibited nationwide, even in states where abortion is legal and protected by state law or constitutional amendment.”  Planned Parenthood Action agrees stating, “If the Texas case is decided in favor of AHM, mifepristone could be taken off the market in all 50 states.”  
In addressing the group, Harris took the issue far beyond access to mifepristone for abortion to create the fear that a decision against mifepristone will affect access to other medications saying that the pro-abortion meeting was about fighting for the rights of Americans “to have access to the medication that they need.” She said that the case “is not just an attack on women’s fundamental freedoms; it is an attack on the very foundation of our public health system”. 
Harris said that those who object to the FDA process used to approve mifepristone “ought to look in their own medicine cabinets to figure out where they’re prepared to say that those medications that they need to alleviate suffering and to prolong the quality of life should no longer be available to them. Because that is what we are talking about.” 
The White House statement about the meeting declared that participants “discussed how challenges to the FDA’s authority to determine the safety drugs could undermine public confidence in the continued availability of other approved medications.”
In their challenge to the FDA, the healthcare professionals of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine charge that the FDA “failed America’s women and girls” because it approved mifepristone via an “accelerated” process, a process typically reserved for serious or life-threatening illnesses.  
ADF summarizes the caseBy illegally approving chemical abortion drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to abide by its legal obligations to protect the health, safety, and welfare of girls and women. The FDA never studied the safety of the drugs under the labeled conditions of use, ignored the potential impacts of the hormone-blocking regimen on the developing bodies of adolescent girls, disregarded the substantial evidence that chemical abortion drugs cause more complications than surgical abortions, and eliminated necessary safeguards for pregnant girls and women who undergo this dangerous drug regimen. 
Following the Texas ruling, the case is expected to go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Biden’s New Order Will Advance Abortion in the Name of Equity

President Biden signed a new Executive Order Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government that requires government agencies to build and resource “Agency Equity Teams” to implement the equity mandate. The order announces that it is “in line with the President’s commitment to advancing gender equity and equality at home and abroad” which established the White House Gender Policy Council within the Executive Office.
One of the mandates for the Gender Policy Council is to “increase access to comprehensive health care, address health disparities, and promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.” The Director of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein highlighted the Council’s work to advance abortion during a press briefing with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Klein explained that the current main focus of the office is its fight against “anti-choice legislation” in Congress. She criticized House Republicans for proposing three separate national abortion bans and additional bills to restrict access to abortion. 
The second focus of the office she explained was the two executive actions Biden had previously undertaken to advance access to abortion and the memorandum he issued allowing the dispensing of abortion-inducing drugs by pharmacies despite state bans. Klein said about the state laws, “These efforts are extremely critical and especially critical in the face of Republican officials denying the science, threatening pharmacies, and fighting access to safe, FDA-approved medication. And I’ll remind you that medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States.”
Klein also told reporters that her Gender Office along with Vice President Harris are working closely with state pro-abortion leaders who they bring them together so that “they can share information about both how to pass proactive state legislation to protect reproductive rights and also to fight back defensively against the extreme legislation that they’re seeing in states.” She said that “the fight goes on because there are 100 bills already filed in the 2023 legislative session that are anti-choice. And so we will continue to work with state legislators, governors, mayors to — and state attorneys general to help them in that fight.”

House Under Republican Leadership Passes Pro-Life Legislation

The House of Representatives under Republican leadership showed its pro-life support. First, it passed a resolution condemning violence against pregnancy care centers. Sponsored by Rep Mike Johnson, the resolution condemns acts of violence or destruction against pro-life organizations and churches that have occurred since last May and calls on the Department of Justice to investigate.
Last fall, FBI Director Christopher Wray acknowledged that pro-life groups have been the target of most abortion-related violence: “Since the Dobbs decision, probably in the neighborhood of 70 percent of our abortion-related violence cases or threats are cases of violence or threats against… pro-life organizations,” Wray told a Senate committee. 
The House also passed a bill to ban infanticide and protect babies who survive abortions. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act requires medical personnel to treat a baby that survives an abortion with the same medical care a baby born alive at the same gestational age would receive. “All children should have the right to receive lifesaving care, especially those who survive an abortion,” said bill sponsor Rep Ann Wagner.
House Pro-Life Caucus Co-chair Rep Chris Smith said, “This is humane, pro-child, human rights legislation.”
The bill was approved by the House by a vote of 220-210 and is similar to legislation former Speaker Nancy Pelosi blocked 80 times when the House was under Democratic leadership. 

Biden’s Words and Actions Confirm He is the Abortion President

President Biden’s State of the Union address expressed his extreme support for abortion on demand throughout pregnancy by opposing state laws protecting unborn children and their mothers from the violence of abortion, opposing any national bans on abortion and stating his support of a “right” to abortion. His remarks included, “Congress must restore the right that was taken away in Roe v. Wade — and protect Roe v. Wade. Give every woman the constitutional right…The Vice President and I are doing everything to protect access to reproductive healthcare and safeguard patient safety. But already, more than a dozen states are enforcing extreme abortion bans…Make no mistake about it: If Congress passes a national ban, I will veto it.”
In contradiction to his unwavering support for abortion, Biden recognized the divine nature of human creation stating “…every one of us, is created equal in the image of God” while he enables the deaths of uniquely created human beings in the womb who are denied their equal right to life.
Biden invoked God’s name 10 times during his more than an hour-long speech and said that the U.S. “stands as a beacon to the world”. Regrettably, Biden would have the U.S. be a beacon for the death of unborn children until the moment of birth in the U.S. and around the world as he and his administration seek to overrule state laws on abortion, establish a federal right to end the lives of children in the womb and promote abortion around the world.
Read more here.

Bishops Respond to Biden; Affirm Opposition to Abortion Funding

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reiterated its opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion following President Biden’s false statement to a reporter. The reporter attempted to question Biden by stating: “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions.”  Biden retorted: “No they are not all doing that. Nor is the Pope doing that.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, corrected Biden explaining that the bishops’ conference is united in opposition to funding abortion. He released the statement—President of U.S. Bishops Conference on Bishops’ United Position Against the Evil of Abortion—that reiterated the bishops’ and Pope Francis’ opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion.
The statement affirmed that human life is sacred and “God calls us to defend and nurture life from the moment a new human being is conceived.” The bishop stated that the Catholic Church has been clear and consistent in this teaching and that the Catholic bishops of the United States “are united in our commitment to life and will continue to work as one body in Christ to make abortion unthinkable.”
“Taxpayer funding of abortion would force people of good conscience to participate in this grave evil against their will. It would contradict our right to live in accord with the tenets of our faith. Our nation is better than that”, said Bishop Broglio. He added that he prays our hearts would be opened “to respond to mothers in need with love and support rather than the violence of abortion.”
Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, sent a letter to House (Rep Chris Smith, H.R.7) and Senate (Senator Roger Wicker S.62) sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act” in support of the legislation.
Read more here.

US: Pro Abortion Senators Tell Biden They Want Abortion Funded Globally

12 pro-abortion senators led by Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to President Biden urging him to take new steps to ensure that domestic and foreign policy reflect his commitment to abortion and to defend access to abortion in the midst of divided control of Congress and passage of state laws restricting abortion.
The Senators complained to Biden, “After decades of activism by anti-abortion extremists, the Dobbs decision emboldened anti-abortion politicians to further their attacks on reproductive rights…House Republicans made it their first order of business in the new Congress to attack abortion rights and have already passed multiple anti-abortion measures since assuming the majority. Antiabortion politicians at the state level continue to enact new abortion restrictions and bans… And anti-abortion extremists have filed numerous lawsuits to strip access even further…”
They presented eleven new steps that they want the Biden administration to undertake including to increase “funding for domestic and global sexual and reproductive health services in the President’s 2024 Budget” which they insist should not include the abortion funding restrictions in the Hyde Amendment affecting domestic abortion funding or the Helms Amendment affecting U.S. global abortion funding. 

Democrat Governors to Facilitate the Death of Unborn Children

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that 20 Democrat governors had formed a governor-led Reproductive Freedom Alliance “to protect and expand abortion access in their states” due to the passage and enactment of pro-life laws in other states and rulings by judges.
The Democrat governors joining Newsom are: Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, Delaware Governor John Carney, Hawai’i Governor Josh Green, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Maine Governor Janet Mills, Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, Rhode Island Governor Daniel McKee, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.
While the Alliance is described as bipartisan, no Republican governor is a member.
Major funding for the Alliance is provided by the California Wellness Foundation and the Rosenberg Foundation. Tim Silard, president of Rosenberg Foundation said, “Defending reproductive freedom is a racial justice issue. The foundation is committed to reimagining policies and systems to win fundamental rights, protections, and opportunities for Black, brown, and immigrant communities. We are proud to join with Governor Newsom and our colleagues in philanthropy in the fight to protect reproductive rights and access in California and across the country.”
International Pressure for Abortion

EP Report Calls for Abortion in the Name of Human Rights and Democracy

The European Union’s Parliament (EP) adopted a report— Human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter - annual report 2022—that calls for access to abortion around the world and within Member States of the EU in the name of human rights and democracy.
It cites the Dobbs decision as an impetus for its action: “…whereas, the Supreme Court of the US decided on 24 June 2022 to overturn the Roe v Wade ruling, putting an end to the federal constitutional right to abortion in the US, allowing states to ban abortion at any point during pregnancy and opening up the possibility of complete bans on abortion; whereas since then, a growing number of states in the US and worldwide have decided to ban or limit the right to abortion."
The EP seeks to force all EU states to allow abortion on demand and is attempting to enshrine abortion in the European Charter of Human Rights. The report states that the EP: “Reminds states of their obligation to guarantee access to comprehensive SRHR services, including … safe and legal abortion…calls for legal rights and protections to be further strengthened and for the removal of barriers to access SRHR globally; reiterates its call to include the right to safe and legal abortion in the Charter.”
In addition, it “calls for the EU and its Member States to fully support and promote SRHR, including access to abortion, in multilateral and bilateral relations…” and calls the passage of pro-life laws and policies “regrettable backsliding in women’s access to safe and legal abortion in some Member States”. It states that access “to SRHR, including safe and legal abortion, is a fundamental right” and laws that criminalize abortion are a form of gender-based violence.
It condemns the decision of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal in 2020 that disallowed abortion for fatal fetal abnormality and the decision of the Hungarian Government to implement an informed consent law that requires that women hear the heartbeat of their unborn baby before an abortion.
The EP also called for support for nongovernmental organizations around the world working to advance abortion.
In opposition to the report, MEP Miriam Lexmann (PPE) stated that she could not support the report because it “contains a call to include the right to abortion in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which I consider unacceptable. This move puts the very principle of human rights in complete opposition to its very essence, as it threatens the protection of human life and the basic human right, which is the right to life. Such fragmentation of the universally applicable system of human rights threatens the main instrument on the basis of which we protect human rights.”

East African Legislative Assembly: New Push for SRHR Bill

A new effort is underway by pro-abortion activists to advance a radical pro-abortion bill in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that would impose abortion on the Member States. The previous EAC Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Bill had been withdrawn following objections from members of the East Africa Community, which have varying laws on abortion, due to its promotion of abortion and “sexual and reproductive health and rights" (SRHR).
The new effort for Bill is being led by organizations in the region. UNFPA liked this tweet: @wgnrr_africa “Reproductive rights are often threatened by restrictive laws and policies, lack of access to healthcare services, social stigma and discrimination which can be protected by decision makers and create a more just and equitable, healthy and fulfilling life for all.” #passeacsrhbill 
The bill would establish a regional framework to hold Member States accountable to each other for implementation of the Bill including being required to harmonize national health policies and regulations on abortion and other issues. Country progress reports would be required with possible lawsuits at the East Africa Court of Justice (EACJ) if partner countries are dissatisfied with a country’s progress.
The new impetus for the abortion bill coincides with a visit by seven parliamentarians from European donor countries (Austria, Finland, Ireland and UK) who recently visited Tanzania and Zanzibar under the leadership of the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights. The delegation’s meetings included with members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) “to discuss pressing regional SRHR issues” as well as with national lawmakers.

IPPF to Rebrand and Become “Angrier than ever before”

International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is seeking to rebrand itself in a way that according to IPPF Board Chair Kate Gilmore will present it as “bolder, braver and angrier than ever before”. The global rebranding is to coincide with its 70th anniversary and its new 2028 Strategy that includes a focus on securing funding: “In 2023 and beyond, we will continue our work to demand that governments, donors and international organisations invest in SRHR services everywhere – in stable settings, in conflict-prone areas, for refugees, internally-displaced persons and in all communities.”
IPPF is fearful that the overturning of Roe v. Wade “reverberates globally” and is falsely portraying the global pro-life movement as “anti-women, anti-gender, anti-LGBTQI+ conservative and religious, white supremacist extremists are putting the human right to healthcare, equality, bodily autonomy and ultimately, freedom, at stake.” 
IPPF has committed to work to overturn pro-life laws claiming that by 2028 “more countries will have liberalised abortion care and eliminated barriers to implementation.”

OAS: IACHR Calls Abortion a “Human Right”; Critical of Dobbs

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) presented its assessment what on it deemed as progress and setbacks in the region during 2022 “in the exercise of the reproductive rights of women, girls, adolescents, and all pregnant persons.” It called on States to refrain from policies and laws against abortion which it described as “going backward in recognizing and protecting these rights”. Pro-life laws and policies are described as resulting from “historical and structural discrimination”.

The Commission criticized the Dobbs decision while it applauded legislative and judicial actions that decriminalize abortion.
Legislative News

Malawi: Pro-Life Legislators Block Abortion Bill

Pro-life legislators in Malawi have blocked a bill that would legalize abortion. The pregnancy termination bill has been before the Malawi Parliament for the last two years but not voted on, due largely in part to efforts by pro-life Catholic legislators and Fr. Alpheus Zikomankhani with Pro-Life Malawi, an affiliate of the global organization Human Life International. Pro-life legislators stood up and said they would boycott the session if the abortion bill were to be considered. John Martin, Executive Vice President of Human Life International, celebrated the blocked legislation: “More than a dozen years ago we were fighting massive anti-life programs in Malawi, when the Malawi National Assembly ratified the Maputo Protocol and the president acceded to it, despite the fact that Malawi was not represented in the Health Ministers Meeting in Maputo that crafted the document that declared abortion to be a woman’s ‘human right.’”

Switzerland: Committee Votes to Keep Abortion in Criminal Code

The Swiss National Council's Legal Affairs Commission has rejected an initiative to remove abortion from the penal code. The proposed policy, "So that abortion is first considered a health issue and no longer a criminal matter," failed to be adopted by a vote 14 to 11. Abortion advocates had been lobbying the government to decriminalize abortion and in January presented the parliament with a petition entitled “My health- My choice!” urging it to do so.   

Malta: Parliament Approves Bill Expanding Abortion Access

Malta’s parliament has approved a bill to expand access to abortion in the pro-life country. The new legislation would permit abortion in cases where the mother’s life or health are at risk where previously, it was banned in all cases. Prime Minister Robert Abela claims the new language will not legalize abortion, however, pro-life opponents know this is a back door way to do so. Last month, over 10,000 citizens marched to protest the proposed bill. The legislation was approved in a second vote by a vote of 42-34 and is now in the committee stage for amendments before it receives a third vote. President George Vella has said he will resign if the parliament approves the bill with its current language.

Malta: Parliament Approves Bill Expanding Abortion Access
Malta’s parliament has approved a bill to expand access to abortion in the pro-life country. The new legislation would permit abortion in cases where the mother’s life or health are at risk where previously, it was banned in all cases. Prime Minister Robert Abela claims the new language will not legalize abortion, however, pro-life opponents know this is a back door way to do so. Last month, over 10,000 citizens marched to protest the proposed bill. The legislation was approved in a second vote by a vote of 42-34 and is now in the committee stage for amendments before it receives a third vote. President George Vella has said he will resign if the parliament approves the bill with its current language.

France: Lawmakers Vote to Protect Abortion in Constitution

The French Senate has approved legislation to protect abortion in the country’s constitution. The bill, passed by a vote of 166-152, states that: “The law determines the conditions under which a woman's freedom to terminate her pregnancy is exercised”. The National Assembly also passed a bill to make abortion a constitutional right in late 2022. However, the Senate version replaces the word “right” with “freedom to terminate”. The legislation now must be reconciled between the two versions, and then approved by a referendum before being adopted.

UK: House of Lords Prohibits Prayer Around Abortion Clinics

The House of Lords approved buffer zones around abortion facilities that will make it a criminal offense to “influence” a person seeking abortion services. Specifically, a person who “interferes with any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services in that buffer zone' could be liable for a fine, conviction, or imprisonment.” In effect, the law will make quiet prayer a ‘thought crime’.
Several peers in the House of Lords objected to the provision. Lord Weir of Ballyholme, Lord Jackson of Peterborough, Lord Cormack and Baroness Fox of Buckley said the language violated the right to free speech. Right to Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson criticized the legislation, saying it will make it illegal to be pro-life. Further, she noted it will open the door to court interpretation: “In all likelihood, this poorly thought-through piece of legislation will be passed by the House of Commons and result in a series of court cases because it is not clear, in a case of silent prayer for example, whether an individual is breaking the law or not.”

Spain: Parliament Gives 16 Year Olds Abortions Without Parental Consent

Spain’s lower house of parliament has passed legislation to make abortion available to minors over the age of 16 without a parent’s consent. The bill would also permit women suffering with menstrual cramps to have paid time off work, the first European country to do so. The legislation, which passed by a vote of 190-154, now goes to the upper house for approval.  
Executive News

Germany: Family Minister Pushes to Decriminalize Abortion

Germany’s Family Minister, Lisa Paus, is calling for the removal of abortion from the country’s criminal code, claiming it stigmatizes women seeking abortion. The German government coalition is set to create a special commission to investigate possible options. Paus also said she wants “to end sidewalk harassment of pregnant women", raising concerns that pro-life groups will lose their freedom to peacefully protest outside abortion facilities. Pro-life members of parliament criticized the initiative. “Even the unborn child has a constitutionally protected right to life,” said Dorothee Bär, deputy parliamentary group leader of the Christian Social Union. 
Judicial News

Portugal: Court Rejects Law to Legalize Euthanasia

Portugal’s Constitutional Court has again rejected a law to legalize euthanasia. The Court was reviewing a law the parliament had recently passed that would permit a person "in a situation of great intensity suffering, with definitive injury of extreme gravity or serious and incurable disease" to seek assisted suicide. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa then sent the bill to the Constitutional Court to determine if the new language complies with the legal requirements. The Court found that the legislation was “imprecise” and said it had an “intolerable vagueness” as it failed to adequately define the “suffering of great intensity” that would warrant euthanasia.
This is the third attempt to change the country’s law. Last year, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa sent the bill to the Constitutional Court for review and then vetoed it. Proponents are now calling for the matter to be decided by a national referendum. The Portuguese Bishops’ Conference strongly opposes the legislation, calling it a “serious threat to humanity.”

Spain: Court Rejects Pro-Life Challenge to Abortion Law

Spain’s constitutional court has rejected a pro-life challenge to the country’s law permitting abortion for the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Over ten years ago, the conservative Popular Party (PP) contested the abortion law, arguing it was unconstitutional. The abortion law, passed in 2010, legalized abortion on demand for the first 14 weeks gestation, and up to 22 weeks in cases of the health of the mother or fetal anomaly. The court, with a left leaning majority, ruled the case had “not obtained the support” of the court.

UK: Courts Dismiss Charges Against Peaceful Pro-Life Protesters

Pro-lifers’ rights to peacefully protest have been upheld in recent court cases. Father Sean Gough, a Catholic priest in England, was arrested and charged with violating a censorship zone for holding a sign saying “praying for free speech” near a closed abortion facility. He was also charged for having a bumper sticker on his car, parked nearby, that says “unborn lives matter”.  In a similar case, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested in late 2022 for silently praying outside an abortion clinic that was deemed to be in a censorship zone. Despite not holding any sign and remaining silent, Vaughan-Spruce was charged with four counts of violating a Public Space Protection Order.  The prosecutor dropped the charges and told the court that both cases were deemed not to meet the “full code test”- assessing whether the case is in the public interest and they lacked sufficient evidence.

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

In this issue

VP Harris’s Medication Scare Tactic as Decision on Mifepristone Nears  
Biden’s New Order Will Advance Abortion in the Name of Equity
House Under Republican Leadership Passes Pro-Life Legislation
Bishops Respond to Biden; Affirm Opposition to Abortion Funding
Pro Abortion Senators Tell Biden They Want Abortion Funded Globally
Democrat Governors Unite to Facilitate the Death of Unborn Children
International Pressure for Abortion
East African Legislative Assembly: New Push for SRHR Bill
OAS: IACHR Calls Abortion a “Human Right”, Critical of Dobbs
IPPF to Rebrand and Become “Angrier than ever before”
Legislative News
Malawi: Pro-Life Legislators Block Abortion Bill
Switzerland: Committee Votes to Keep Abortion in Criminal Code 
Malta: Parliament Approves Bill Expanding Abortion Access in Second Reading
France: Lawmakers Vote to Make Abortion a Constitutional Right
UK: House of Lords Approve Buffer Zones, Prohibit Prayer Around Abortion Clinics
Spain: Parliament Gives 16 Year Olds Abortions Without Parental Consent
Executive News
Germany: Family Minister Pushes to Decriminalize Abortion
Judicial News
Portugal: Court Rejects Law to Legalize Euthanasia
Spain: Court Rejects Pro-Life Challenge to Abortion Law 
UK: Courts Dismiss Charges for Peaceful Pro-Life Protests
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