FRC Blog

40 Days for Life Speech in Front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood

by Arina Grossu

March 1, 2017

Note: The following is Arina Grossu’s speech for the February 28, 2017 40 Days for Life vigil in front of D.C.’s Planned Parenthood. Arina Grossu is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

Good evening. Thank you for being here today. I wish we did not have to be here and I hope that one day soon we will no longer have to be when abortions are no longer committed. Let’s make abortion unthinkable. Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women and children, and Planned Parenthood, America’s number one abortion chain is also the abortion lobby’s number one perpetrator.

Planned Parenthood is in the business of lies. Here are some facts containing numbers from its own annual reports. Planned Parenthood commits 35 percent of U.S. abortions, close to 325,000 abortions annually. Planned Parenthood is a scandal-ridden organization that needs to be defunded. It was at the center of the controversy involving the sale and trafficking of baby body parts as revealed by the Center for Medical Progress videos. It has also been caught promoting abortion quotas, and it failed to report statutory rape at a number of its affiliates. It has shown support for race- and sex-selective abortions. It targets minority populations: 79 percent of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African-American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods.

While it advertises its non-abortion services, a closer look at its annual reports reveal a shocking reality. Abortion is on the rise, but their other services have dropped to over half in the past five years. From 2009 to 2014, cancer screening and prevention programs have consistently dropped by 63 percent. In those same years breast exams have consistently dropped by over half (56 percent). These do not include in-house mammograms because Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms, a fact that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards admitted in a September 2015 House Oversight Committee meeting, contradicting her 2011 claims that it did.

From 2009 to 2014, prenatal services have steadily dropped by more than half (57 percent). LiveAction’s January 2017 sting videos reveal that out of 97 Planned Parenthood facilities that they talked to, only five said they provided prenatal care. One abortion worker at the Merrillville, Ind. Planned Parenthood said, “No, we don’t do prenatal services. I mean, it’s called Planned Parenthood, I know it’s kind of deceiving.”

Another LiveAction January 2017 video revealed that of 68 Planned Parenthood facilities that were asked if they do an ultrasound in order to check the health of the baby, only three Planned Parenthood facilities said they did.

In 2014, if a pregnant woman walked into a Planned Parenthood facility, she was 160 times more likely to receive an abortion than an adoption referral.

So here we are standing in front of this $20 million state of the art mega-center that opened in September 2016 and is dedicated to child-killing. It is tragically located next to and across the street from Two Rivers Public Charter School. While children are being taught in those buildings, other children are being killed in Planned Parenthood’s building.

Here they do medication abortion up to about 9 weeks for $475 and surgical abortion up to 14 weeks for $525.

This Planned Parenthood, like other Planned Parenthoods and abortion facilities in each town and city, stands as an enemy against human dignity, an enemy against women and children, an enemy against human decency. Folks, we are looking at the gas chamber of our generation. It is a blight on our nation.

But you are here, and this gives me hope for the future. 40 Days for Life is a great opportunity to witness to vulnerable mothers and fathers and abortion workers the truth about human dignity and the lies of abortion.

Our presence matters. Not only does it matter, but it is crucial. Between 2004 and 2016, some 675 cities in 40 nations have conducted 40 Days for Life campaigns with measurable, lifesaving results.

Do you want to know what a difference prayer and witness makes? Through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils and community outreach, 40 Days for Life has inspired 725,000 volunteers. With God’s help, during 19 coordinated campaigns:

  • 12,668 babies were saved from abortion
  • 143 abortion workers were converted
  • 83 abortion centers were closed
  • More than 19,000 church congregations were activated and united for life.

Wow! Do you realize how powerful we are when we unite for life? Together we will bring about an end to abortion. From March 1 until April 9, our community will unite with many others from coast to coast—and internationally—for another major simultaneous pro-life mobilization.

It is a very exciting time to be in the pro-life movement right now. Did you know that there have been a torrent of pro-life laws in the U.S.? In the last five years alone, 334 laws have been passed, which account for 30 percent of all pro-life laws enacted since 1973.

In 2015 Planned Parenthood closed 33 centers in a total of 18 different states. Planned Parenthood currently operates around 625 centers in the United States. At its height in 1995, there were 938 Planned Parenthood facilities. Both the numbers of facilities and affiliates are at an all-time low.

We are also going to witness the defunding of Planned Parenthood. The over $500 million in annual taxpayer funds that currently goes to Planned Parenthood annually should be redirected to Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that actually provide comprehensive and true health care for women, men, and children. Abortion is not health care.

But we need your continued presence here—we need boots on the ground—and an active voice in contacting your members of Congress for the passage of pro-life bills.

Your physical, peaceful presence stands as a beacon of light in a very dark place. Whenever we stand at the foot of the abortion facility, at the precipice where unspeakable evil takes place, in whatever city we find ourselves, we are the conscience of the world, the last lifeline of support for a mother facing an unplanned pregnancy, and the first to embrace her if she goes through with an abortion. We are also there to help abortion workers leave this wretched business.

I encourage you to be part of this sacred task and sign up to pray and witness outside of this Planned Parenthood by going to 40daysforlife.com or just show up at any of its locations. You don’t have to say a word. You can come here to just pray and witness with your presence. Or if the Spirit so moves you in gentleness and love, to reach out to the mothers and fathers in unplanned pregnancies and abortion volunteers and workers and show them another way—the life-giving way. Your mere presence and witness speaks more than you can imagine.

One final word of encouragement. When you come here or any other abortion facility for peaceful witness, please remember that you are not alone. When you stand here, either by yourself or with a group, you are not alone. You are joining in solidarity with brothers and sisters in cities all around the world, helping to rescue other brothers and sisters from the grip of abortion. We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. God’s power and strength will carry us.

Ephesians 6 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

For more coverage of this event, see here.

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Big Abortion” Wants the Dangerous Pregnancy-Destroying Drug Mifepristone (RU-486) Sold in Local Pharmacies

by Chris Gacek

February 28, 2017

Dr. Thomas Price, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, please take note. Your U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will soon be cooperating (conspiring) with abortion activists to relax important health regulations so that America’s only approved abortion regimen can be sold by local drug stores. In fact, the process may well be underway as I write.

Big Abortion’s aggressive push for evermore abortion, despite great health concerns for the mother (not to mention the baby), appears to know few bounds. Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is incontrovertibly an embryo and fetal-destructive chemical. Mifepristone (also, Mifeprex®) blocks the chemical action of progesterone, the key hormone that drives pregnancy forward. Mifepristone is taken with a second drug, misoprostol (Cytotec), which causes uterine-emptying contractions when taken by a pregnant woman. This two-drug abortion regimen was first approved by the FDA in 2000.

There are many details related to the distribution of this regimen, but the key points to note are that access to the mifepristone itself is still pretty tightly controlled. The current 2016 regulations for the mifepristone regimen do not allow it to be sold in pharmacies. Rather, mifepristone may be distributed only by certified healthcare providers (originally, it had to be a physician). Such providers must have the ability to assess the duration of the pregnancy accurately, be able to diagnose ectopic pregnancies, be able to get the patient to surgical intervention in case of an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding, and, finally, must have read the prescribing information about the regimen. Clearly this sort of patient assessment cannot take place at pharmacies. The regimen may not be prescribed after the 70th day of pregnancy (LMP).

On February 23rd, a group of ten abortion activists calling themselves the “Mifeprex REMS Study Group,” most of whom are physicians, argued that the Mifeprex regulatory scheme is obsolete and that the regimen should be sold in pharmacies. This piece of abortion advocacy appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

REMS” is an FDA acronym that stands for “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.” The REMS for the Mifeprex regimen—the use requirements put in place to mitigate dangers to patients from a drug’s use—were already weakened by the Obama administration less than a year ago as it was going out the door. It was at that time that the FDA allowed for the amount of mifepristone in the regimen to be cut by two-thirds, and for the regimen’s use to be extended from 56 to 70 days when the failure rate at the earlier marker was already significant. Furthermore, a second office visit was also eliminated from the requirements—which was simply shocking given the complications that can occur, including incomplete abortion and ongoing pregnancy.

My colleague Arina Grossu and I also called on the FDA to release the study citations and data that was used to justify the 2016 changes. (See pp. 2-3 of “The FDA Adopts the Abortion Industry Standards for the Mifeprex® (RU-486) Abortion Regimen.”) To the best of our knowledge, the FDA still has not produced a list of citations for twenty-two studies used to justify the relaxation of the regimen’s requirements less than one year ago.

As our paper indicated, serious health complications from the Mifeprex regimen can arise. We know that from May 2000-2011, there have been 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies (suggesting inadequate screening), 339 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions, and 256 cases of infection (48 of which were considered severe).

Dr. Price’s team at HHS and FDA needs to stop any effort that Big Abortion is attempting to slip through the agency before the Trump team is in place. Major articles like this one in the NEJM do not appear by accident, so the chances are that an application to effect this change has already been filed or is about to be filed.

Furthermore, an independent medical and statistical review of the 2016 label change needs to be conducted for the purposes of determining whether that previous set of changes was politically and not scientifically motivated. As a gesture of good faith and transparency, FDA should release the most recent summary of Mifeprex regimen adverse events that it produces internally every quarter, so we can see the trend lines since the last data became available to the public.

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On School Bathrooms and Bullying

by Daniel Hart

February 27, 2017

In a White House press conference last Thursday, a reporter stated that “82 percent of transgender children report feeling unsafe at school.” She then asserted that by rolling back Obama’s May 2016 school transgender bathroom guidance, the Trump administration was leaving transgender children “open to being bullied at school.” She followed this up by saying: “Transgender children say that their experiences [of] not being able to use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using makes them vulnerable to bullying.”

Just to be clear: It is tragic to know that such a high percentage of students who identify as transgendered feel unsafe at school. It goes without saying that bullying must be fought by any and every reasonable means at educators’ disposal. Anti-bullying policies and laws that are currently in place in all 50 states play an important part in this. But even more important is the education of children at home, where parents need to instill in their kids Christ’s golden rule from Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” This underscores the Christian principle that every human being, no matter what sexual identity they present, is a precious creation of God that deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

With that being said, do single-sex bathroom policies contribute to an “unsafe” environment for students who identify as transgendered, as the reporter asserts? The Obama administration’s solution to this perceived problem was to require schools to implement the following policy for restrooms and locker rooms: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

It remains unclear how this policy would have achieved its goal of mitigating bullying. For example, if a biological male who identifies as a female felt uncomfortable going into the boy’s restroom because of the potential bullying he would receive from other boys, how could he reasonably expect to feel safer if he were instead to go into the girl’s restroom? In the latter situation, the girls already in the restroom may feel (at the very least) uncomfortable or possibly threatened, which would lead to a less safe situation for everyone involved. How is this in any way a desirable outcome?

A common-sense solution to this situation is for schools to provide a third gender-neutral bathroom option. This solution is endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists in a study entitled “Safe School Environments for Transgender Students.” In the study, students at a school near Chicago who identified as transgendered gave positive feedback on gender-neutral facilities: “Students revealed that having more gender-neutral facilities eliminated tardiness and having to go to an opposite area of the building to use the bathroom during classes. Students also said that the private locker room felt safer than having to share it with nontransgender students…”

To be clear, all schools were free to implement the bathroom policies that they deemed appropriate for the needs of their students, including gender-neutral options, before the Obama bathroom directive was handed down last year. There was never a need for this kind of “top-down” approach that infringes on the effectiveness of solving problems at the local level. By rolling back this misguided policy, the Trump administration is leaving states and school districts free to craft the policies that best protect their particular students’ needs.

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D.C.’s Inhuman Assisted Suicide Law Must Be Repealed

by Daniel Hart

February 22, 2017

With barely a murmur from the major news media, Washington, D.C. became just the sixth jurisdiction in America to legalize assisted suicide this past Saturday.

As discussed previously, assisted suicide is an abhorrent illustration of how far we have fallen as a culture, where death can now be chosen as if it were a legitimate choice among a variety of medical options.

It is therefore extremely disappointing, to say the least, that Congress did not use its constitutional authority to block the D.C. assisted suicide legislation from becoming law through a joint resolution of disapproval.

Congress can and must exert its constitutional authority to nullify this harmful and deeply flawed D.C. legislation, which undermines the dignity of human life, lacks commonsense safeguards against abuse, and endangers poor, sick, disabled, and elderly people.

Although the D.C. law has already taken effect, doctors will not be able to prescribe lethal drugs for several months, possibly not until October, while D.C. creates the administrative forms, oversight, and studies for assisted suicide under their law.

Congress’ latest spending bill funds the government until April 28 of this year. This gives Congress another chance to act to repeal the D.C. assisted suicide law by attaching a repeal provision to must-pass spending legislation, before patients begin to end their lives in our nation’s capital. We support Dr. Andy Harris (R-MD)’s efforts to that end.

Assisted suicide is an inhuman act, pure and simple. It short-circuits the universal experience of death that every human being deserves at the natural end of their life. Further, anyone who has sat at the bedside of a dying person will tell you that death gives new meaning and insight into our humanity.

One of the most beautiful recent illustrations of this was written for The New Yorker, of all places (a publication whose editorial board is almost certainly in favor of assisted suicide). Kathryn Schulz’s piece is a stunningly poetic and perceptive account of her experience of witnessing her father’s death. Here is an excerpt:

Even so, for a while longer, he endured—I mean his him-ness, his Isaac-ness, that inexplicable, assertive bit of self in each of us. A few days before his death, having ignored every request made of him by a constant stream of medical professionals (“Mr. Schulz, can you wiggle your toes?” “Mr. Schulz, can you squeeze my hand?”), my father chose to respond to one final command: Mr. Schulz, we learned, could still stick out his tongue. His last voluntary movement, which he retained almost until the end, was the ability to kiss my mother. Whenever she leaned in close to brush his lips, he puckered up and returned the same brief, adoring gesture that I had seen all my days. In front of my sister and me, at least, it was my parents’ hello and goodbye, their “Sweet dreams” and “I’m only teasing,” their “I’m sorry” and “You’re beautiful” and “I love you”—the basic punctuation mark of their common language, the sign and seal of fifty years of happiness.

One night, while that essence still persisted, we gathered around, my father’s loved ones, and filled his silence with talk. I had always regarded my family as close, so it was startling to realize how much closer we could get, how near we drew around his dying flame. The room we were in was a cube of white, lit up like the aisle of a grocery store, yet in my memory that night is as dark and vibrant as a Rembrandt painting. We talked only of love; there was nothing else to say. My father, mute but alert, looked from one face to the next as we spoke, eyes shining with tears. I had always dreaded seeing him cry, and rarely did, but for once I was grateful. It told me what I needed to know: for what may have been the last time in his life, and perhaps the most important, he understood.

It is easy for those who have never experienced the death of a loved one to say that people should have a “right to die.” When real-life accounts of death come to light, assisted suicide quickly becomes unthinkable. Here is one final excerpt:

Eventually, we decided that my father would not recover, and so, instead of continuing to try to stave off death, we unbarred the door and began to wait. To my surprise, I found it comforting to be with him during that time, to sit by his side and hold his hand and watch his chest rise and fall with a familiar little riffle of snore. It was not, as they say, unbearably sad; on the contrary, it was bearably sad—a tranquil, contemplative, lapping kind of sorrow. I thought, as it turns out mistakenly, that what I was doing during those days was making my peace with his death. I have learned since then that even one’s unresponsive and dying father is, in some extremely salient way, still alive.

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How did the Washington State Supreme Court Get Barronelle Stutzman’s Case So Wrong?

by Travis Weber

February 16, 2017

Today the Washington Supreme Court ruled against Barronelle Stutzman, a florist who for years happily served her customer and friend Rob Ingersoll (who she clearly knew identified as gay), but could not in good conscience assist him in celebrating his same-sex marriage because it involved her creative talents and energies in furthering an activity she believed to be wrong. 

In response to this desire to honor her conscience, the Washington State government organs of “justice” teamed up with the ACLU to sue her for purported violations of nondiscrimination laws, putting her personal assets and home at risk as a result. Barronelle never asked for this controversy, but it was brought to her doorstep by activists who simply couldn’t live and let live, and she has stood strong through it. 

In its ruling today, the Washington Supreme Court first exposed its bias by spending a page and a half detailing the emotional toll on the same-sex couple, while spending a total of one sentence acknowledging similar harm to Barronelle (Hint: that toll is much more than one line’s worth). In addition to this discrepancy, there are major problems with the ruling. I want to focus on three of them. 

1. The court got it wrong by concluding Barronelle engaged in discrimination 

The state high court clearly erred by rejecting Barronelle’s claim that she did not engage in sexual orientation discrimination but rather objected to a certain activity (participation in the same-sex wedding). In rejecting her argument, the court heavily relied on cases minimizing any status/conduct distinction (the idea being that limiting the behavior of a certain class is discriminating against that class—a “tax on wearing yarmulkes is a tax on Jews”). Minimizing that distinction is a big error in this case, however. What makes the tax on yarmulkes reprehensible is the fact that it really is a back-door way of targeting Jews. Barronelle is not trying to “sneak in” discrimination against LGBT people by declining to participate in their marriages. She’s happily served these same people for years!

The court recognized she had no problem with “selling bulk flowers and “raw materials,’” for use in a same-sex wedding, and acknowledged “she would be happy to do” that in this case. The court seemed to miss how this shows her actions do not turn on whether the customer identifies as LGBT or not, but rather upon the specific activity she is asked to participate in, noting at one point it believes “[t]his case is no more about access to flowers than civil rights cases in the 1960s were about access to sandwiches.” But the court already acknowledged Barronelle was not turning away customers because they identified as gay, as a sandwich counter would turn away any African-American who walked in. Barronelle only wanted to not be involved in their weddings. Is the court not willing to accept this? 

There actually is a status/conduct distinction that’s important to this case, and the Washington Supreme Court errs in minimizing it and relying on dissimilar situations and precedents. While the court acknowledges that cases highlighting the status/conduct distinction exist (see footnote 6 at the bottom of page 16 of the opinion), it does not discuss or address them. Barronelle honestly and simply has a conscience objection to facilitating certain marriages, and nothing else. Courts, activists, and everyone else involved in this discussion need to recognize this. 

2. The court hugely erred in rejecting Barronelle’s Free Speech claim 

Additionally, the Washington Supreme Court simply got it wrong in rejecting Barronelle’s Free Speech claim. Though beginning with soaring language probably meant to show its high regard for free speech, the court quickly puts a damper on the party, concluding her artistic creations are not “inherently expressive” protected speech. The court’s analysis has some gaping holes, however, as it heavily relies on Rumsfeld v. FAIR despite significant legal and factual differences with the present case. FAIR was an unconstitutional conditions case dealing with government funding—in the military, moreover—an area Congress has significant constitutional power to regulate. The Court in FAIR also noted the recruiting law does not force schools to accept members they did not desire, while nondiscrimination laws force complete compliance in admissions or service. FAIR is also distinguished because the case hinged on a funding conditions issue, while here, as in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Group of Boston, the primary issue is constitutional rights being pitted against nondiscrimination laws. 

The Washington Supreme Court gave inadequate attention to perhaps the most relevant case—Hurley—concluding it was “unavailing” to Barronelle simply because the Supreme Court in that case had recognized the parade organizing council was not a traditional public accommodation. But that was not the issue in Hurley; rather, it was whether there were constitutional rights in play that trumped any application of that state nondiscrimination law. On this point, the Hurley Court observed: “[w]hen the [public accommodations] law is applied to expressive activity in the way it was done here, its apparent object is simply to require speakers to modify the content of their expression to whatever extent beneficiaries of the law choose to alter it with messages of their own.” Thus, the Court concluded the application of the public accommodations law infringed on the parade organizers’ free speech, specifically the right to control the content of their message and be free from being compelled to speak a certain message. 

But the Washington Supreme Court skips all this analysis (indeed, the court mentions Hurley and Dale in Footnote 11 on the bottom of page 28, but sidesteps any discussion of how the federal constitutional rights in those cases trumped state law). The issue here is not, as the court believes, whether Barronelle’s business is the type that has “traditionally been subject” to nondiscrimination laws, but whether the First Amendment protects her as it did the parade organizer in Hurley. Barronelle’s expression should have been so protected, and the Washington Supreme Court erred in concluding it was not (oddly, it did so while spending several pages listing myriad examples of a variety of expressive activity which is protected—not all of which was more clearly “speech” than Barronelle’s activity). 

How it does this while at the same time quoting another Supreme Court case for the proposition that “[t]he government may not prohibit the dissemination of ideas that it disfavors, nor compel endorsement of ideas that it approves” is quite baffling. No same-sex marriage supporting florists are being threatened here. The state government is using the WLAD to go after those who disapprove of this “idea,” and the court goes along with this, while quoting a Supreme Court case which requires the opposite. 

The state high court concludes that the average observer of Barronelle’s action would not think it is meant to send any message and thus is not protected as “inherently expressive” activity. Yet one wonders how that same court would view the many who recently have protested President Trump in a variety of ways—most notably those refusing to design dresses for his family. I suspect they would most certainly believe that their actions were expressing a message. Would the Washington Supreme Court disagree with them if the issue arose as a legal question? 

3. The ruling validated concerns that same-sex marriage and SOGI laws will be used to suppress religious liberty 

First, in its analysis which concluded that Barronelle engaged in impermissible sexual orientation discrimination, the court cites the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The state court claimed that denying marriage licenses is equal to sexual orientation discrimination, a conclusion it now foists upon Barronelle in her religious liberty case. With more of these wedding-related religious liberty cases likely to come, this part of the ruling should be noted by those who said Obergefell would not be used against such dissenters, and would not affect religious liberty. Indeed, the Supreme Court itself said in Obergefell: “[f]inally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths … .” Apparently, that may not be true after all, if more courts and advocates adopt the reasoning of the Washington Supreme Court. 

Second, on the bottom of page 52, the court’s reasoning validates the concerns of those who have long been claiming that SOGI laws are incompatible with religious liberty. Even when it comes to the most heartwarming religious liberty claimant around (an elderly grandmother who served her LGBT-identifying friend for years but didn’t want to be involved in his wedding), her rights are no match for state SOGI laws—which, the state high court concludes, are backed by a compelling government interest accomplished through the least restrictive means. Those putting much faith in compromise solutions between religious liberty and SOGI advocates should reexamine their assumptions in light of this portion of the opinion. 

Despite this ruling, Barronelle may yet be able to obtain relief from the United States Supreme Court. Hopefully, that Court will take up her case and uphold her federal constitutional rights in the face of the Washington State government’s oppressive action and its state courts’ acquiescence in this injustice. In thinking about how the U.S. Supreme Court will treat this case, it is a reminder of how important it is to have Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is good on religious liberty, confirmed as a replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. 

Meanwhile, we must not let what has happened to Barronelle at the state level happen to others at the federal level. This ruling is all the more reason for President Trump to protect religious liberty through executive action. Please join our petition effort calling for such protections. 

 

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Don’t Be Misled By National Geographic and Katie Couric: Three Things to Know About “Gender Identity”

by Peter Sprigg

February 16, 2017

National Geographic—both the magazine and the cable TV channel—have taken the plunge into the warm, politically correct waters of “gender identity.”

First, the January 2017 issue of the magazine featured a set of cover stories on “The Shifting Landscape of Gender,” also dubbed the “Gender Revolution.” News of this “Special Issue” broke with the announcement that the cover model would be a child who identifies as “transgender”—a nine-year-old boy who claims to be a girl. It turns out, though, that the cover with the boy in pink was only for the “subscriber’s edition” of the magazine. Perhaps they realized that this image would not sell well at the newsstand. For that market, the cover featured a posed assortment of young people in trendy clothing styles, identified (in small print) as everything from “male” to “androgynous” to “bi-gender.”

Then this month, a new special premiered on the National Geographic Channel: “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric.” Full disclosure—I have watched most, but not all, of it. However, I have watched all of the video clips on the website for the show, and read most of the articles in the print edition of the magazine.

Here are three key facts to help the viewer or reader avoid being confused by National Geographic’s take on this “revolution.”

1)      “Transgender” has nothing to do with “intersex.”

This is actually made clear in a glossary found in the magazine. Adapted from a publication called The Teaching Transgender Toolkit by Eli R. Green of Widener University and Luca Maurer of Ithaca College, the glossary features this definition of “Intersex”:

A category that describes a person with a disorder of sexual development (DSD), a reproductive, genetic, genital, or hormonal configuration that results in a body that often can’t be easily categorized as male or female. Intersex is frequently confused with transgender, but the two are completely distinct [emphasis added]. A more familiar term, hermaphrodite, is considered outdated and offensive.

This fact could not be any clearer. Yet often, people speaking in defense of the transgender movement will say something like, “Well, some people are born with ambiguous genitalia,” in an effort to persuade the listener that some people are “born” transgender—but “the two are completely distinct.” Couric falls prey to this in the NatGeo special, devoting nearly the entire first half hour (of a two-hour special) to the subject of “intersex” individuals—and then moving seamlessly into a discussion of transgender persons without clearly explaining that “the two are completely distinct.” Writer Robin Marantz Henig makes a similar error in the magazine’s article on “Rethinking Gender.”

The fact is, the vast majority of “transgender” people—people who psychologically do not wish to identify with their biological sex at birth—are not “intersex.” Their biological sex characteristics are 100% normal and of only one sex—their “gender dysphoria” is entirely a psychological condition, not a biological one.

2)      Left to themselves, most children with gender non-conforming feelings and behavior will not grow up to be “transgender” adults.

The cultural trendiness of the transgender movement is leading increasing numbers of people to assume that if a boy declares at age 3, 4, or 5 that he wants to be a girl, he must “really” have a female gender identity and should immediately be given a new name, a new wardrobe, and new mandate that all teachers and peers must address him by feminine pronouns.

To suggest that gender non-conforming children are “going through a phase” is now considered offensive—yet many of them are in fact going through a phase. The magazine’s article on “Rethinking Gender” cites a 17-year-old biological female now called “Charlie” who

went through a process of trial and error similar to that described by other gender-questioning teens. First he [sic] tried “butch lesbian,” then “genderfluid,” before settling on his [sic] current identity, “nonbinary trans guy.”

In addition to this anecdote, the magazine includes “guidance” from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It includes this caution: “For some young children, identifying as another gender may be temporary; for others, it isn’t … There is no way to predict how children will identify later in life.”

The magazine article also cites an academic expert:

Eric Vilain, a geneticist and pediatrician who directs the UCLA Center for Gender-Based Biology, says that children express many desires and fantasies in passing. What if saying “I wish I were a girl” is a feeling just as fleeting as wishing to be an astronaut, a monkey, a bird? When we spoke by phone last spring, he told me that most studies investigating young children who express discomfort with their birth gender suggest they are more likely to turn out to be cisgender (aligned with their birth-assigned gender) than trans—and relative to the general population, more of these kids will eventually identify as gay or bisexual.

If a boy is doing things that are girl-like—he wants long hair, wants to try his mother’s shoes on, wants to wear a dress and play with dolls—then he’s saying to himself, ‘I’m doing girl things; therefore I must be a girl,’ ” Vilain said. But these preferences are gender expression, not gender identity. Vilain said he’d like parents to take a step back and remind the boy that he can do all sorts of things that girls do, but that doesn’t mean he is a girl.

It is ironic—and tragic—that in a society which is already extending much greater latitude to young people in terms of “gender expression” (breaking gender stereotypes in preferred activities, for example), we should be locking them into a permanently changed “gender identity” at an early age. I would hope that even those who support “transgender” identities could agree—this is a decision to be made in adulthood.

3)      There is no evidence that undergoing “gender transition” can be generally expected to improve someone’s long-term well-being.

This is perhaps the crucial issue. Some of us who are conservative may find a change in one’s public “gender identity” to that of the opposite biological sex to be morally problematic as a violation of natural law. But if there is clear scientific evidence proving that people who make such a change are physically and mentally healthier and enjoy a longer lifespan than people with gender dysphoria who do not publicly “transition” (or who seek therapy to help them feel comfortable with their biological sex), then that would provide an argument for supporting (or at least legally permitting) such “transitions.”

Such evidence, however, does not exist. There is certainly anecdotal evidence of individuals who will testify that they are happier after transitioning, receiving hormones, or undergoing gender reassignment surgery than they were before. But subjective testimonies of greater happiness in the short run are not the same as tangible evidence of greater physical and mental well-being in the long run.

For one thing, there are physical risks associated with transition-related medical procedures. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) has warned of some:

Estrogen has the potential to increase the risk of blood clotting, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and water retention. Anti-androgens such as spironolactone can produce dehydration, low blood pressure, and electrolyte disturbances. Testosterone, especially when given orally or in high doses, carries the risk of liver damage.

And:

Some trans women want physical feminization without having to wait for the effects of estrogen. They expect injectable silicone to give them “instant curves.” The silicone, often administered at “pumping parties” by non-medical persons, may migrate in the tissues and cause disfigurement years later. It is usually not medical grade, may contain many contaminants, and is often injected using a shared needle. Hepatitis may be spread through use of such needles.

The inherent risks of substance use and abuse may be even higher in transgender people:

Alcohol combined with sex hormone administration increases the risk of liver damage. Tobacco use is high among all trans persons, especially those who use tobacco to maintain weight loss. Risks of heart attack and stroke are increased in persons who smoke tobacco and take estrogen or testosterone.

The GLMA also acknowledges that “trans people are particularly prone to depression and anxiety”—although it attributes this to a lack of social acceptance. LGBT activists often argue that transgender people may become suicidal if not supported in their efforts to transition—yet GLMA admits, “Suicide is a risk, both prior to transition and afterward” (emphasis added).

In fact, one of the most dramatic findings on transgender health after transition was found in a rigorous study—conducted on every single person in Sweden (324 in total) who had surgical sex reassignment in that country between 1973 and 2003. It found, “Persons with transsexualism, after sex reassignment, have considerably higher risks for mortality, suicidal behaviour, and psychiatric morbidity than the general population.” In fact, it found the risk of suicide—after sex reassignment surgery—was 19 times higher than among the general population.

It is certainly important to have compassion for people who experience gender dysphoria. But it is hardly compassionate to encourage them to follow a course of action that not only requires denying biological realities, but also gives no realistic chance of improving their lives in the long run.

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Social Conservative Review - February 15, 2017

by Daniel Hart

February 15, 2017

Dear Friends,

Before his beautiful treatise of love in 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul gives a stern warning:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

In the current political and cultural climate, these words pose a particular challenge for believers. Marco Rubio recently characterized our times this way: “We are reaching a point in this republic where we are not going to be able to solve the simplest of issues because everyone is putting themselves in a corner where everyone hates everybody.” While there are many reasons why we have gotten to this place in our culture, I think an underlying cause can be traced back to what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians: when people with good intentions fail to act with love, whether it be in speech or in action, their efforts backfire. It’s not an exaggeration to say that a large percentage of news stories and commentary these days seem to be primarily concerned with scoring points against perceived enemies rather than to charitably inform, engage, and persuade. Both conservatives and liberals are guilty of this.

This is a failure to love. For believers, the temptation here can be to beat the opposition over the head with the Truth, and when that fails, to fight fire with more fire. After all, many argue, what else can be done when the other side refuses to even engage in a debate and instead resorts to name calling and straw man tantrums? This may be true, but believers must not succumb to tactics that society has deemed acceptable. Rather, we must present the Truth in charity and love. Hearts and minds are changed through patient forbearance, genuine empathy, and truthful proposals, as difficult and frustrating as this is to do.

With the knowledge that Christ, who is Truth Incarnate, will ultimately triumph, let us always argue and debate in charity and love. This will often mean that we will “lose” in the court of public opinion, and our pride will be humbled. But Christ experienced no less. Let us pray that everyone, believers and non-believers alike, whether they be in public office, public policy, or the media, will come to know this truth.

Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.

Sincerely,

Dan Hart
Managing Editor for Publications
Family Research Council

 

FRC Articles

Free pastors from the Johnson AmendmentTony Perkins

Shulkin Poised to Address Concerns at the VALt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin

Everything The Women’s March Movement Wants You To Believe About It Is A LieSarah Perry

Judge Gorsuch Is A Mainstream ConstitutionalistKen Blackwell

Marriage: The Abundant LifeDan Hart

UN: Religious Persecution of Rohingyas Reaches Horrific LevelsTravis Weber

What You May Not Know President Trump Said at the National Prayer BreakfastTravis Weber

 

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty in the Public Square

How to Think About Discrimination: Race, Sex, and SOGIRyan T. Anderson, Public Discourse

Homeschool Family Sues NYC After Being Subjected to 60-Day InvestigationSamuel Smith, The Christian Post

Tony Perkins Hails ‘Victory’ in $225K Settlement for Fired Pastor; Georgia Says He Wasn’t Fired for FaithLeonardo Blair, The Christian Post

International Religious Freedom

New UN LGBT Expert Doubles Down Against Religious FreedomStefano Gennarini, C-Fam

U.K.: Preacher jailed for sharing Bible teaching with homosexual teenClaire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

Asia Bibi: Putting Seven Years Imprisonment Into PerspectiveDavid Curry, The Christian Post

Rubio urges Trump to uphold religious freedom and human rights in China – China Aid

Military Religious Freedom

Navy’s ‘diversity road map’ lays foundation for multiethnic force protected against discrimination – Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times

 

Life

Abortion

How Women Can Help Abortion-Proof Their CommunitiesKat Talalas, The Federalist

More Pregnant Women Choose Life Over Abortion Than Ever Before – Macaiah Bilger, LifeNews

Abortion Widens the Gender Gap and Exploits WomenBrian E. Fisher, Public Discourse

Planned Parenthood offered incentives, ‘pizza parties’ for meeting quotasKate Scanlon, TheBlaze

Post-abortive woman: Seeing my aborted baby was “the worst moment of my life”Nancy Flanders, Live Action News

Fact Check: Abortion Is Not ‘The Most Safest Medical Procedure In America’ – Jay Hobbs, The Federalist

Adoption

Foster Care as the Way of ChristDarren Carlson, Desiring God

Firefighter adopts baby he delivered on emergency callZoe Romanowsky, Aleteia

Bioethics

Oregon bill would let doctors starve, dehydrate mentally ill patientsClaire Chretien, LifeSiteNews

House Committee Votes to Strike Down D.C. Law Legalizing Assisted Suicide Steve Ertelt, LifeNews

D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity’ Bill Could Cut Costs — and CompassionBrad Wenstrup and Phil Roe, National Review

New Mexico Assisted Suicide Bill Moves Toward Death on Demand – Wesley Smith, LifeNews

Obamacare

Why Delaying Obamacare Repeal Is Hurting the American PeopleSondra Clark, The Daily Signal

We Hear You: From Obamacare to Affordability and Choice for Consumers – Ken McIntyre, The Daily Signal


Family

Economics/Education

Workplace Flexibility for Moms and the Gender Gap – Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

These Small Business Owners Fret Over ‘Devastating’ Import Tax Pitched by House GOP Leaders – Josh Siegel, The Stream

Today’s Riot-Prone Mobs Are A Product Of America’s Cult-Like Education System – Stella Morabito, The Federalist

Good Money – Samuel Gregg, Public Discourse

State Lawmakers Need To Dramatically Increase School Choice Now Or America Is Over – Inez Feltscher, The Federalist

Identity Studies in Service of a Classical Education – Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., Public Discourse

Marriage

Debunking the Ball and Chain Myth of Marriage for MenBradford Wilcox and Nicholas H. Wolfinger, Family Studies

How Should a Christian View Marriage and Divorce?Amy Desai, Focus on the Family

6 Habits that will destroy your marriage, and how to avoid themAleteia

Faith/Character/Culture

When the One You Love Is WaywardDave Harvey & Paul Gilbert, The Gospel Coalition

Hero In Blue – William Doino, Jr., First Things

Human Sexuality

Cohabitation Contributes to Family Instability Across the GlobeLaurie DeRose, Family Studies

Six Essential Facts About Senate Bill 6 (Texas Privacy Act)Texas Values

The Data Suggests Unisex Bathrooms Are A Bonanza To Male PervertsPaul Dirks, The Federalist

Other Reasons to Wait Until MarriageBoundless

Transforming Hookup Culture: A Review of American HookupAmber Lapp, Family Studies

Human Trafficking

Sex Trafficking Spikes Around the Super Bowl, But It’s a Year-Round ScourgeMary Rose Somarriba, Verily

Human Trafficking and Slavery: How Flight Attendants are Saving Lives Miles in the AirNancy Flory, The Stream

Pornography

Why We All Need Millennials To Start Trying To Have More Sex – Hans Fiene, The Federalist

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Marriage: The Abundant Life

by Daniel Hart

February 10, 2017

It’s National Marriage Week, so it’s a good time to put in a good word for marriage: I got married last April, and my previously miserable life has been perfect ever since.

I’m kidding, of course, but what is true is that the nature of day to day life does change as a married man. When I was single, day to day decisions about life were usually about me: “What do I feel like eating?” “What do I want to do this weekend?” “What do I want to watch tonight?”

What’s different about marriage is that my day to day decisions are now primarily based on the question “What does my wife need?” rather than “What do I need?” In a sense, being married is a shift away from one’s self and toward another person. What I have found, paradoxically, is that this can be very freeing. Instead of constantly agonizing about what my true purpose in life is and what I should really be doing with my life (which I did incessantly when I was single), it is now very clear to me what I need to do every day: I need to love my wife. Everything that I now do (going to work, doing chores, going on errands, or even playing the guitar) is a means by which I can accomplish that goal.

In this sense, the married life is a full life. I don’t mean to say that those who are single are somehow living inferior, less fulfilled lives. I just mean that marriage, in essence, is a total and complete gift of self.  Within the vow of “forever”/ “unto death do us part” lies the freedom of giving one’s whole self, whole life, and whole future to another person. Indeed, my life feels more full than it did when I was single. I don’t think this is an accident. As Christ said in Mark 10: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” In a sense, then, marriage is a way of becoming more fully human because we are supernaturally joined to another person.

When I was single, I would often try to imagine what it would be like to be married. I would often try to imagine myself as a husband and think “How could I ever do that? I know nothing about how to be a good husband or father.” I would often think that in order to be married, I would need to change my personality and natural temperament in order to fit in to what an acceptable “husband” should be, otherwise I would completely fail at it. What I have found is that we can never really change who we are. Once you become a husband, you naturally make this new role your own. In other words, marriage isn’t about attaining a status, it’s about growing into a more loving human being. God has given us marriage as a means by which we can become more holy.

I say this in order to encourage anyone out there (men especially) to not be afraid of marriage. You don’t have to worry about being a perfect husband, there will never be a perfect time in your life to get married, and you will never find a woman who is perfect. If you think you have found the right woman (which should be prayerfully discerned), don’t be afraid to propose!

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Everything The Women’s March Movement Wants You To Believe About It Is A Lie

by Sarah Perry

February 9, 2017

In January, it was a march. In February, it’s become a movement: a developing, inelegant phenomenon quivering with the latent energy of a post-march high. The covers of Time and the New Yorker recently featured a certain cat-eared pink hat. Organizers have developed 10 action steps for the first 100 days.

At USA Today, author Heidi M. Przybyla argued that “The march’s biggest asset — that it was completely organic and grass-roots — is now its challenge going forward.” Nascent march group organizers in New Jersey are hoping their collective acts as a clearinghouse on reproductive rights, climate change, and a free press.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE

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UN: Religious Persecution of Rohingyas Reaches Horrific Levels

by Travis Weber

February 7, 2017

Many in the West may not know about it, but the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar has been occurring for some time at the hands of their own government, which wants them forced out of the country. A new report by the United Nations reviews recent developments and documents the cruelty to the group, which includes horrific killings of children and gang-rapes of women—often perpetrated by security forces.

While the facts on the ground are almost always more complex that what we can capture in reports and news stories, it is certainly true that religious persecution is a major element of what is occurring here. Religious freedom is a human right held by all, wherever they live and whatever they believe. All are entitled to be free to choose their faith and manifest it in their lives free from government interference, as articulated in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This goes for Muslims in Myanmar as much as it does for Christians in the Middle East.

Just because we don’t hear much about this situation in the Western press doesn’t make it any less horrible, or mean religious freedom violations are not occurring.

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