FRC Blog

In Afghanistan, Women Are Being Subjugated. In the West, They Are Being Erased.

by Arielle Del Turco

March 29, 2022

We are being treated like criminals just because we are girls. Afghanistan has turned into a jail for us.” This is how one Afghan girl describes life under the Taliban. Girls across the country had their hopes dashed last week when Taliban authorities reneged on their promise to allow girls’ secondary schools (above 6th grade) to reopen. The decision was so last minute that the students were not told until they arrived at school Wednesday morning and had to be sent home.

One girl tearfully recounted to her mother, “Mom, they didn’t let me enter my school. They’re saying girls aren’t allowed.” Instead of attending classes and progressing in their education, she and other Afghan girls will be expected to stay inside their homes and help with housework.

The pretext given by some Taliban officials is they were unable to plan for a school uniform dress code for teenage girls. This pathetic excuse is no doubt familiar to Afghans who previously lived under Taliban rule. When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan from 1996-2001, education for girls was similarly restricted. But in recent months, Taliban officials have tried to insist that they’ve changed over the last two decades. However, all pretense of modernization within the Taliban is now over; that is a deeply tragic reality for women and girls in Afghanistan who simply want to go to school and live normal lives.

While Afghan women and girls were grieving the loss of basic freedoms and opportunities because of their sex, a very different scene played out nearly 7,000 miles away in a U.S. Senate chamber. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, to define the word “woman.” Jackson responded, “No. I can’t…I’m not a biologist.” It struck many as odd that a well-educated and successful person—whom many hail as a pioneering black woman herself—was unable or refused even to define the word “woman.”

But this ambiguity on the nature of womanhood isn’t limited to a Supreme Court confirmation hearing; it’s taking our culture by storm. In recent weeks, we’ve seen biological males who self-identify as women kicking biological females off the podium in women’s sports and taking their slots in “woman of the year” designations.

Clarity on the sexes is needed now more than ever. But the truth is not that complicated. Writing in the National Review, Madeleine Kearns explains why no one needs a degree in biology to know what a woman is: “Sex is observable at birth, detectable long after death, and demonstrable in our chromosomes, gametes, and reproductive organs. We are reminded of our sex every time we go to the bathroom or look in a mirror. The sex of the vast majority of people is identifiable at a glance.”

The West’s erasure of women puts women and girls at physical risk in shared spaces like bathrooms and locker rooms and robs them of opportunities that policies like Title IX were supposed to protect. It also has the potential to undermine global momentum on women’s rights. What does it mean for international women’s rights advocacy if the West can no longer agree on a definition for “woman”?

While the West is embroiled in debate about gender identity ideology, the heart-wrenching and horrifying situations faced by many women around the world are being overlooked. Female North Korean defectors forcibly sent back to North Korea endure rape, torture, forced labor, and forced abortions in labor camps. Young Christian and Hindu girls in Pakistan are at risk of being forcibly converted and married to their Muslim kidnappers. Uyghur women are targets of China’s genocide, undergoing brutal mandatory sterilization, forced abortions, and arbitrary detainment.

Women have come a long way in gaining equal rights and protections in much of the world. Yet, the West does a disservice to those women still fighting for basic rights when it sidelines their plight in favor of trendy, dangerous, and incoherent gender identity ideology.

Women and girls around the world aren’t being helped by the West’s newfound confusion about the sexes. We shouldn’t be afraid to say what a woman is—a biological female—and defend the human dignity of women around the world. We must convey the value and goodness of women’s unique qualities—not ignore them, undermine them, and certainly not erase them.

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Why Does the Far Left Want More Women to Have Abortions?

by Mary Szoch , Joy Zavalick

March 28, 2022

The Texas Heartbeat Act, in its mission to protect babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable, has faced legal challenges and resistance from the abortion industry—and come out victorious. Along with saving thousands of lives, Texas has also provided a notable case study as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case with the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade. While pro-life advocates are ready to care for mothers and their babies in the event Roe is overturned, the far Left that used to call for abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare” is now busily working to ensure that more and more women undergo abortions.

The pro-“choice” façade of the past is finally slipping away as progressives become increasingly bold about their desire to increase the national abortion rate. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who has been outspoken about his goal to direct abortion tourism to his state, signed a new law to make abortion even cheaper for people on private insurance plans. Washington and Oregon also had dramatic reactions to Idaho’s Texas-style heartbeat protection, resisting the neighboring state’s move to protect the unborn.

A recent New York Times article sounded gleeful as it relied on shoddy evidence to report that Texas’ Heartbeat Act had not drastically lowered abortions in the state because women were still able to obtain chemical abortion pills or travel across state lines to undergo abortions. National Review’s Michael New refuted these suspiciously enthusiastic claims, explaining, “the reported out-of-state monthly increase of 1,250 abortions is only a fraction of the in-state decline of 3,200 abortions reported by the Texas State Health and Human Services Commission for September 2021.”

Agents on the far Left are determined to encourage women to undergo abortions, even if abortion is the logically less convenient and less safe option for them. Fund Texas Choice promotes abortion by “provid[ing] travel assistance to Texas residents whether your appointment is in Texas or if you have to travel out-of-state.” The group arranges and pays for hotel stays, bus tickets, flights, and gas for women undergoing abortions in cities where they are not residents—in other words, whatever it takes to make sure that women have abortions. Even private organizations such as Citigroup have also chosen to fund travel for their employees to encourage them to get abortions.

Why are progressives hellbent on pushing dangerous chemical abortions and spending thousands of dollars on travel over the simple solution of carrying a child to term and respecting his or her right to be born? Are they really so deluded as to believe that birth, which women are biologically designed to perform, is more traumatizing than invasive surgical procedures or dangerous chemical regimens? Are they simply mesmerized by the profit they stand to gain from vulnerable women when abortion is normalized? One thing is for certain, those who champion abortion have chosen to reject reality.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Americans know that every pregnant woman carries a unique, unrepeatable human being within her. It is only when a woman is considering an abortion that anyone denies the humanity of the child. As a visibly pregnant woman walks down the sidewalk or through the grocery store, it is not uncommon for men and women to stop to congratulate her on her baby. In fact, perhaps the only way to be more popular than a pregnant woman carrying a baby in her womb is to be a new mom carrying a baby in her arms. Person after person stops to say hello to the baby, play peek-a-boo, or ask, “Can you give me a smile?”

Today, progressives are tripping over themselves to increase “access” to abortion, but they should recognize there is a better route. As the world awaits a decision in Dobbs, churches, communities, and legislators are working to support moms, dads, and children in need. Instead of doing everything possible to ensure that moms believe their easiest and only option is abortion, it is time for the pro-abortion lobby to accept the truth that daily life affirms: abortion ends the life of a beautiful baby. We invite anyone who is or has previously been part of the pro-abortion lobby to join us. There are countless ways to help moms, dads, and babies in need. Encouraging more abortions is not one of them.

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Biden’s Supreme Court Nominee Refuses to Define the Word “Woman”

by David Closson

March 23, 2022

Did President Biden keep his promise to nominate a black woman to the U.S. Supreme Court? At first glance that seems like an absurd question. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is a black woman. However, yesterday’s interaction between Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Judge Jackson suggests Republicans might want to ask the president’s nominee some more pointed questions about her worldview as the third day of confirmation hearings gets underway today.

Supreme Court confirmation hearings can be heady affairs. Although the topics of judicial philosophy, legal principles, and how to interpret the Constitution are vitally important to the functioning of our legal system, most Americans do not often consider them. Stare decisis, unenumerated rights, and originalism are simply not part of most people’s daily conversations with their friends or family members. As a result, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s four-day-long hearing on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has likely proven dull for many people. 

However, likely lost among the hours of questioning in yesterday’s confirmation hearing was a fascinating exchange late last night between Judge Jackson and Sen. Blackburn. During her questioning, Blackburn asked the nominee to define the word “woman.”

Can you provide a definition of the word ‘woman’?” Blackburn asked. After a brief pause, Jackson answered, “No, I can’t.” Incredulous, Blackburn replied, “You can’t?” “Not in this context; I’m not a biologist,” the judge responded.

Initially, few news outlets reported on the exchange, and even most conservative court-watchers have focused on questioning by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) about Critical Race Theory and Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) contention that Judge Jackson has been too lenient when sentencing sex offenders. But the exchange between Blackburn and Jackson is a massive cultural moment and reflects how deeply gender identity ideology has taken root in our national subconscious. In short, those pushing gender identity ideology that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago have been so successful in promoting their views that it is now deemed too risky to define a woman as an adult biological female. 

The promotion and acceptance of transgender ideology have accelerated the rampant gender confusion in our nation, and the events of the past few weeks underscore just how successful LGBTQ activists have been in converting the news media, Big Tech, the business community, and now, apparently, the judicial community, to their cause. Just within the past few weeks, we’ve seen a biological male crowned an NCAA champion in women’s swimming and USA Today declare Rachael Levine, a biological male serving in the Biden administration, as one of the newspaper’s “Women of the Year.” 

But even though there have been several stories in the news lately featuring those who identify as transgender, it is remarkable that someone nominated to the nation’s highest court is unwilling to define the word “woman.” It raises the question of how Americans can trust someone to faithfully interpret the U.S. Constitution and apply the nation’s laws who lacks the courage to simply state biological facts. Nevertheless, here we are.

It would be ludicrous to think that Judge Jackson does not know what a woman is. Judge Jackson is a two-time Ivy League graduate. She has served on the federal judiciary for nearly a decade and has been seated on the nation’s second-most important court for almost a year. Without a doubt, Judge Jackson is highly intelligent. But her unwillingness to answer Sen. Blackburn’s question is a foreboding sign that gender identity ideology not only holds tremendous sway in the Democratic Party but has also taken hold in parts of the legal profession. Deference to partisan politics has no place in the judiciary.

President Biden promised to nominate a black woman to the nation’s highest court, and Judge Jackson meets both of those criteria. But the judge’s own refusal to define the word “woman” during her confirmation hearing is disturbing because it suggests an accommodation to a postmodern worldview unable to assert basic truths about human embodiment. Judge Jackson is a woman, and it shouldn’t be controversial to state this fact. Even those who may not agree with Judge Jackson’s judicial philosophy can acknowledge that Jackson’s nomination is historic and that many African American women are especially excited about her appointment. But the fact that the nominee herself cannot confidently answer a straightforward question that contradicts the far Left’s radical gender identity ideology is a sad and revealing commentary on the times. 

You don’t need to be a veterinarian to define what a cat is, a mechanic to define what a car is, a florist to define what a flower is, or a biologist to define what a woman is. But increasingly, you do need courage and a willingness to contradict the misguided zeitgeist of the age. On this point, Judge Jackson failed miserably yesterday. Ultimately, if Judge Jackson cannot define what a woman is, it is troubling to think of how she will interpret and apply the nation’s laws. One can only hope she will find some courage if confirmed by the Senate to the Supreme Court.

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Pro-Abortion States Are Desperately Moving to Codify a “Right” to Abortion

by Chantel Hoyt

March 23, 2022

With the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization quickly approaching, legislators in pro-abortion states are bracing themselves for the possibility that Roe v. Wade’s reign over state abortion laws might finally come to an end, returning to the states the ability to regulate abortion as they see fit and more fully protect unborn life.

Not surprisingly, it is the states with the most pro-abortion laws that are leading the effort to enshrine “abortion rights” language in their state codes or constitutions. Colorado is swiftly moving HB22-1279, the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA), through the legislature, which would not only insert a “fundamental right” to abortion in state statute, but also explicitly deny unborn children any rights under the state (this includes all unborn children, regardless of gestational age).

Maryland (HB 1171) and Vermont (PR 5) are attempting to enshrine a right to abortion in their state constitutions, ensuring that, through future changes in the legislature and governorship, this “right” will remain in the constitution and be difficult to remove. If either of these states are successful, they will become the first to secure a “right to abortion” in their state constitution. If Maryland’s bill passes the Senate, it will go before voters in the state’s November 2022 election. After passing the legislature in February, Vermont’s Proposition 5 is already set to be on the ballot this November.

Additionally, pro-abortion activists in the state of Michigan have launched the Michigan Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative as an effort to get a constitutional amendment ensuring a right to abortion on voter’s ballots this November. Similar to the language of Maryland’s proposed amendment, it establishes a “fundamental right to reproductive freedom,” which shall not be “denied, burdened, or infringed unless justified by a compelling state interest achieved by the least restrictive means.” This amendment would supersede a pre-Roe abortion ban, enacted in 1931, which has been unenforceable due to Roe. In order to get on the ballot, this measure needs to gain 425,059 signatures (equal to 10 percent of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election). It remains to be seen whether this measure will be on the ballot this year for Michigan voters.

These laws stand to be alarmingly far-reaching, invalidating what few pro-life laws these states have and cementing their current practice of actively funding abortion. Colorado, Maryland, and Vermont’s amendments would guarantee abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, going far beyond Roe’s precedent of guaranteeing abortion to the point of viability (Michigan’s amendment allows abortion up to the point of viability). Each one of these laws would not only allow but defend abortions sought solely due to the race, sex, or disability of the unborn child.

 In Colorado, some legislators and constituents are cautioning that the RHEA, as currently written, would prevent the state from enforcing its parental notification law for minors seeking abortions. Maryland Right to Life has pointed out that the state’s proposed constitutional amendment would force physicians to carry out abortions against their consciences and religious convictions. After all, if something is a “fundamental right,” can it rightly be denied without the government stepping in to intervene?

Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, and Vermont are each seeking to become abortion destinations in the aftermath of Roe, where women from pro-life states can travel and abortionists can kill their unborn children. As troubling as this is, thankfully, even more states are poised to do just the opposite. Twenty-two states have laws (whether enacted before Roe and never repealed or designed to go into effect in the event Roe is overturned) to protect the unborn at conception or at the point his or her heartbeat can be detected (usually around 6-8 weeks), and others are currently moving to enact legislation to protect more unborn babies. Let these states stand out as a contrast to the states working so hard to maintain their cultures of death. The battle surely rages on, but there is hope in the midst of the darkness.

If you are a pro-lifer living in one of these pro-abortion states, please be encouraged. In Psalm 4:12, David reminds himself of God’s justice and care for the helpless, saying, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and will execute justice for the needy.”

If you live in Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, or Vermont, contact your legislators voicing your opposition and vote NO if one of these measures is on your ballot this November. Your voice matters!

For Marylanders, click here to send a message to your state Senators, telling them to oppose HB 1171!

For Coloradans, click here to send a message to your state Senator, telling them to oppose HB22-1279!

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Transgenderism Has a Science Problem

by Jennifer Bauwens, Ph.D.

March 22, 2022

Laws protecting children from harmful gender transition procedures are supported by basic scientific facts. Yet such laws are routinely opposed by cultural, corporate, and political figures, who claim they are the ones in alignment with science. The White House recently called efforts in Texas to protect children from gender transition an “attack on loving parents who seek medical care” that is “dangerous to the health” of these children. Is this really true?

Sadly, when it comes to this issue, ideology is driving science more than science is driving itself. Statements like that of the White House avoid the facts about gender transition for children and instead employ a communications campaign fraught with hyperbole, misinformation, and inadequate research that is more emblematic of a bait-and-switch tactic rather than the gold standard of scientific inquiry. What are we to think of all this?

In the midst of the confusion, it’s appropriate to recall a few basic facts about the scientific method:

1. The scientific method is just one way of learning about the world around us. It is not an infallible approach to knowledge, and there are always errors associated with any study. The question, then, is not whether error is present, but how loosely do we hold the findings because of the amount of error in the study.

2. Confidence is gained in the study’s outcome when error has been reduced. One way error is easily identified is by looking at how the study was designed. This means assessing the methods (e.g., web-survey, experimental study), how the sample was gathered (do the people in the study have the same characteristics as those the researchers are trying to apply the findings to), the financial associations of the researchers, and any vested interests the researchers have in a certain outcome.

3. A particular finding is also strengthened when multiple studies draw the same conclusion. It is normal for a research agenda to start with a wide scope and ask a question such as, “What are the experiences of youth who identify as transgender?” As this information solidifies, the research questions narrow, and the methods typically become more rigorous and directive. For example, the methods and question might move to the commonly known clinical trial phase and ask, “What interventions reduce gender dysphoria?”

4. As a research agenda grows, knowledge on a subject matter strengthens. In this way, a fuller picture might emerge, giving insight into the conditions that create an outcome. In this case, it’s clear that the transgender-identifying population has higher rates of childhood trauma, mental health distress, and increased suicidality. When there is clear knowledge about the factors that create a ripe environment for an outcome, it would be remiss to leave those concepts out of research study without a very clear logic for doing so.

With these basic research concepts in mind, there’s no escaping a need to be critical of the transgender literature. Transgender studies have been used to make big claims about the effects of medicalized interventions, but these studies lack solid empirical evidence to back up the assertions that these practices are efficacious. It is critical to keep in mind that these procedures are some of the most intrusive physiological practices used to address any psychological condition listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5; and soon 5-TR) and should demand the most rigorous scientific backing rather than the least. Here are four key things we should be aware of regarding the current transgender literature:

1. First, transgender literature is in its infancy stage of a research agenda. The types of research methods and questions asked in the peer-review literature reveal that these studies are only at the exploratory phase. This means that the approaches used to investigate the experiences of the transgender population cannot establish a causal relationship between claims that are made, such as the claim that the use of cross-sex hormones will reduce suicidal thoughts. The research methods, alone, prohibit such a claim from being made.

2. Much of the research scaffolding the idea that “transgender procedures save lives” is based on web/survey data, which captures people’s opinions from one moment in time. These data points do not account for suicidal thoughts or mental distress over time or long-term. By design, these studies cannot establish that hormones/surgery are responsible for a reduction in negative mental health outcomes. The methods themselves give us this answer, regardless of how many advocacy, medical, academic, or professional groups say it’s true.

3. The transgender literature has recycled some of the same web survey data from participants who were enlisted from the social media platforms Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad method approach for an exploratory study, in the initial phase of a research agenda, it is unconscionable that this level of inquiry would be explicated to a recommendation for removing healthy organs, particularly for children.

4. This body of literature asserts a causal link between gender affirmative medical care and mental health outcomes. This conclusion is erroneous because the research methods don’t allow for it and the variables known to affect the transgender-identifying population and suicide rates in general have been omitted from the investigations. That is, no study to date can claim that gender affirmative medical care clearly reduces:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Suicide attempts
  • Gender dysphoria

Would you have any of your vital organs, such as a kidney, removed because a few studies by advocates for kidney removals launched web surveys and found that some people felt less mental distress at the idea of an organ removal or because some people accessed services to remove their healthy kidney?

At this point, we must ask: Where are the research methods to establish the conclusion that access to transgender medical interventions bolsters mental health? There are none. But we still hear from our highest political offices that these practices “save lives.” Such a claim is both dangerous and patently false, and it is based on a body of data that is immature, to say the least. 

**To read more about how the science around transgenderism and other issues is being politicized, see these publications:

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Celebrating Life on World Down Syndrome Day

by Joy Zavalick , Kurt Kondrich

March 21, 2022

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, and West Virginia has kicked off the celebration with a new life-saving protection for the unborn. In a race against the clock on the last day of the 2022 session, the state legislature passed SB 468, known as the Unborn Child with Down Syndrome Protection and Education Act. The popular bill passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 81-17 and the Senate by a vote of 27-5. By passing SB 468, which is slated to go into effect on July 1, the state of West Virginia is reminding the nation of the precious gift that those with Down syndrome are to the world.

On Monday, Chloe Kondrich joined Gov. Jim Justice (R) at the West Virginia state capitol to witness the signing of SB 468 into law. For weeks, Chloe had been meeting with members of the West Virginia state congress to advocate for SB 468. Chloe, an 18-year-old advocate for life who has Down syndrome, successfully lobbied for Chloe’s Law in Pennsylvania at the age of 11 to ensure that parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome are made aware of the resources available to help their child thrive. There is extensive evidence that families of those with Down syndrome recognize the blessing that their loved one is; the bigger challenge is helping the rest of the world to affirm it.

Unfortunately, ignorance and fearmongering directed towards pregnant mothers lead to immense loss of life for babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. In the United States, an estimated 67 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. Paradoxically, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS), which claims to be “the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome,” includes the possibility of “termination” as one of its top three reasons why a mother should undergo prenatal testing to determine if her child has Down syndrome.

Unfortunately, despite the many advocates fighting to protect the lives and human dignity of those with Down syndrome, some persist in maintaining discriminatory attitudes. On March 3, World Birth Defects Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) included Down syndrome in its list of the top “most common severe birth defects.” The WHO faced immense backlash on social media from voices around the world passionately disputing the idea that their loved ones with Down syndrome were “defective.” Chloe Kondrich’s simple response, which was accompanied by a photo of her advocating for life at the West Virginia capitol, spoke volumes: “I am Chloe Emmanuel Kondrich, and I am NOT a ‘severe birth defect.’”

The West Virginia law is not only a commonsense measure to prevent discrimination against babies with Down syndrome, but it also protects any child whose mother seeks an abortion on the basis of a prenatal diagnosis of a disability. The law combats the ableist tendencies of the abortion industry, which capitalizes on parents’ fears and convinces them that they are not equipped to raise a child with a disability.

A prenatal diagnosis should never strip a child of their right to life. This year, the theme of World Down Syndrome Day is “inclusion.” According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this looks like “full and effective participation and inclusion in society.” True advocates for those with Down syndrome are people like Chloe who are fighting to empower families with resources and education to achieve this goal of inclusion rather than dismissing an entire population as a “birth defect” that ought to be simply “terminated.”

On World Down Syndrome Day, let us reject the ableist killing of babies who receive a prenatal diagnosis. Let us celebrate the inherent value of all human life, beginning in the womb. As West Virginia takes a step forward in protecting its unborn citizens from discrimination, the rest of the nation ought to follow.

Kurt Kondrich is a pro-life advocate who after the birth of his beautiful daughter Chloe in 2003 has devoted his life to ending the prenatal genocide against babies with Down syndrome.

Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.

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Bipartisan Florida Bill Strengthens Fatherhood and Mentorship Programs

by Dan Hart

March 21, 2022

Even in our hypersensitive age, where having the wrong political views can get you fired from your job, it still appears that certain facts of life are so fundamental that liberals and conservatives can occasionally agree on them.

Such was the case in Florida during the first week of March, where HB 7065, a bipartisan bill that, among other things, increases funding for fatherhood and mentorship programs, was passed unanimously in the Florida Senate (38-0) and sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R) desk. Due to the initiative and leadership of Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R), the bill had previously passed the House with another unanimous vote of 117-0.

Despite some on the Left who openly question whether fathers “are necessary,” it’s great to see such a unified front in Florida when it comes to acknowledging the massive problem of absent fathers and the formulation of concrete policies to help right the ship. As the introduction to the bill noted, the astonishing reality in America is that one out of four children grow up without a father. The negative consequences of this grim reality are so far reaching that it can be difficult to quantify, but the bill’s introduction gives a good summary of them:

Children raised in father-absent homes are more likely, on average, to abuse drugs and alcohol, show signs of antisocial and delinquent behavior, and drop out of high school. Such children are also more likely to experience poverty, teen pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, behavioral problems, and death in infancy.

To help get more absent fathers back into their children’s lives, HB 7065 allocates almost $70 million “to help fathers find a job, satisfy child support obligations, transition from being in jail, and [get] parenting education.” The bill would also “provide grants to community-based not-for-profit organizations to offer certain mentorship programs.” As we have written about previously, mentoring youngsters, teens, and young adults who grew up without fathers is a profoundly positive experience not only for those being mentored but also for the mentors themselves.

When we consider the fact that a bill like HB 7065 got unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, it proves that certain universal truths resonate with everyone and transcend political parties. When Democrats and Republicans can come together to unanimously pass a bill that acknowledges the importance of fatherhood, it should give us hope for the future. Perhaps bills like these can be springboards for future bipartisan-supported legislation that focuses on strengthening marriages and families—the foundational cornerstone of civilization.

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The Passage of the FAIR Act is a Blow to Religious Freedom

by Family Research Council

March 18, 2022

The “Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act” (known as the FAIR Act) may not sound like a bill that Family Research Council would have much interest in, but few bills in Congress these days can be taken at face value. As with multiple other bills that the Left has put forward over the last few years, the FAIR Act, which the U.S. House of Representatives passed almost along party lines on Thursday, includes language elevating “sexual orientation and gender identity” to “protected class status.” 

Progressive proponents of the FAIR Act claim that it “prohibit[s] corporations from forcing working people and consumers into pre-dispute forced arbitration agreements and class action waivers.” But the reality is that the bill defines the term “civil rights dispute” as a dispute arising from an alleged violation of any federal, state, or local law that prohibits discrimination and takes the unnecessarily limiting step of saying that not all such laws apply. The bill elevates the laws that prohibit only certain types of discrimination, including alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

As we have written about extensively, the Left erroneously equates sexual orientation and gender identity with immutable characteristics such as race, age, and national origin. It then elevates SOGI as a matter of “civil rights.” In the context of arbitration, as in the FAIR Act, elevating SOGI categories to protected classes status could have a detrimental effect on faith-based organizations that use arbitration clauses.

We have seen the repeated litigious attacks on Jack Phillips and other wedding vendors, Catholic Charities and faith-based adoption and foster care providers, and others. Just last year, florist Barronelle Stutzman was forced to close her business and settle a lawsuit after an eight-year court battle over being compelled to create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding against her conscience.

Legislation like the FAIR Act unjustly picks winners and losers among discrimination allegations by unfairly, and dangerously, elevating sexual orientation and gender identity to protected class status. Going forward, FRC will urge the Senate to reject the FAIR Act and will continue to educate lawmakers and the public about how proposed SOGI laws violate religious freedom.

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Despite War, Progressive Priorities Remain Unchanged

by Joseph Backholm

March 18, 2022

Emergency situations often have the effect of rearranging our priorities. When horrible things happen—even if they happen in faraway places and don’t personally affect us—they can remind us of what is most important. Weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, it does not appear that the Left is spending much time engaging in self-reflection.

Modern progressivism is built on the belief that psychological safety is a fundamental right. As a result, it has sought to leverage the power of the government to protect people from ideas, people, or situations that would make them unhappy or uncomfortable. This is why, in the minds of many progressives, the possibility of people being called the “wrong” pronouns, for example, merits government intervention in the form of restrictive speech codes.

Ironically, the result of these ideological commitments is that the most prosperous, comfortable, and privileged people in human history are also some of the most ungrateful. One might think a war outbreak would provide some helpful—if not sobering—perspective. Families being torn apart could even make us grateful for our lesser problems, and images of real violence might motivate us to permanently abandon the silly suggestion that peaceful speech that expresses an unwanted or unpopular opinion is violence.

Sadly, this does not appear to be the case.

Only hours after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the head of British Intelligence took to Twitter to say, “With the tragedy and destruction unfolding so distressingly in Ukraine, we should remember the values and hard won freedoms that distinguish us from Putin, none more than LGBT+ rights.” It seems strange to be thinking about progressive gender ideology hours after a war breaks out. But evidently, virtue signaling was at the top of the to-do list for Britain’s top spy. Perhaps he was concerned the visibility of real victims might diminish the victim status of others?

That’s exactly what should happen.

A few days later, President Biden used the State of the Union to make sure people knew he had not forgotten the importance of identity politics. He lamented the “onslaught” of “anti-transgender” laws, referring to legislation in many states that would prevent the chemical and surgical castration of children who experience gender dysphoria.

Two days later, Vice President Kamala Harris likewise took a moment to show her support for the Equality Act, tweeting, “Let’s send the Equality Act to President Biden’s desk. We must increase protections for LGBTQ+ Americans across the country. The onslaught of state bills targeting transgender Americans and their families is wrong.” The Equality Act would, among other things, make sure men are allowed to participate in programs and opportunities previously reserved for women; anyone who dissents from these policies would be ineligible for government contracts or education funding.  

About the same time, CBS News ran a story expressing sadness that “Transgender acceptance in Ukraine is not widespread” and shared the concerns that a Ukrainian man who identifies as a woman would not be able to leave the country because men are being asked to stay and fight. For progressives in the media and those serving in Western governments, the point is clear: They will not let a war distract them from what they deem to be more important matters.

Still, the sexual revolution is not the only cause the war in Ukraine threatens to distract from. Their environmental agenda remain top of mind as well.

John Kerry, the former senator and secretary of state who currently serves as President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, expressed his hopes that Russia, despite their invasion of Ukraine, would “stay on track” with their commitments to combating climate change. Likewise, The Atlantic ran an article lamenting the environmental damage that would result from a nuclear war. 

These priorities are not merely academic. In fact, concerns over environmental impact appear to be driving the Biden administration’s reluctance to stop purchasing Russian energy. Officials don’t want to increase domestic production now for the same reasons they reduced domestic production in the first place. They believe reducing emissions is worth the cost, even if it is a human cost. As a result, they would rather send money to Russia during their invasion of Ukraine than abandon their emissions goals.

This tells us a lot about their worldview. Progressives aren’t going to let a war disrupt their efforts to help men pretend that they are women because they see the issues as similarly important. Likewise, they aren’t going to stop sending Russia money if it means increasing energy production because they see reducing carbon as a way of saving a life.

The universal condemnation of the Russian invasion shows us that there is still some moral common ground in the United States, but the Left’s continued prioritization of their policy agenda, even in the midst of a war, is revealing. If war does not inspire self-reflection, nothing will.

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Heartbeats Protect the Unborn in Idaho

by Connor Semelsberger, MPP , Joy Zavalick

March 17, 2022

On Monday, Idaho passed SB 1309, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.” This makes Idaho the second state to pass a likely enforceable law protecting unborn children after a heartbeat has been detected, as early as three or four weeks after conception. The bill beautifully states that a baby’s heartbeat “signals rhythmically and without pause the presence of a precious and unique life, one that is independent and distinct from the mother’s and one that is also worthy of our utmost protection.”

In Texas, where the nation’s first successfully-enforced Heartbeat Act went into effect in September, the law has saved an estimated 100 babies each day and caused abortions in the state to drop by 60 percent. Overall, the Texas Heartbeat Act is estimated to have saved close to 20,000 babies since going into effect over six months ago. The United States lost 629,898 precious unborn babies to abortion in 2019 alone; now, thanks to the legislative action of pro-life states such as Texas and Idaho, more and more lives are being saved from joining that tragic annual statistic. In these states, the sound of their own heartbeat is all the self-defense against abortionists that unborn babies need.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s upcoming decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could overturn the legal precedent of Roe v. Wade and return jurisdiction over abortion legislation to the states, making it possible for states to protect their unborn citizens from the evils of abortion. Currently, the legal framework of Roe prevents states from enforcing pre-viability protections for the unborn; Texas and Idaho have been forced to pass laws placing enforcement in the hands of private citizens rather than the state in order to protect unborn life while the precedent of Roe still applies. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 26 states are certain or likely to protect the unborn with either currently unenforceable laws that will go into effect in the event that Roe is overturned or by passing similar legislation once it is overturned.

Overturning Roe will make it possible for states to pass laws protecting unborn life without the threat of a Supreme Court challenge or being forced to incorporate the private enforcement mechanisms utilized by Texas and now Idaho. This means the state could enforce their life-protecting laws and provide an even more thorough defense for the unborn.

The Idaho bill follows the unique enforcement mechanism of the Texas law with one clear difference. While the Texas law allows any citizen to bring legal action against anyone who carried out an abortion in Texas, the Idaho law allows only the woman on whom the abortion is being carried out, as well as the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle of an unborn child, to bring legal action against the abortionist who kills their unborn relative. The bill makes a specific exception that if a child is conceived in rape, the rapist forfeits the fatherly legal right to sue the abortionist. The empowerment of the unborn child’s family to seek justice is especially poignant when considering the helplessness and grief that many family members feel when a loved one undergoes an abortion. Providing a pathway to legal justice for families is beneficial in more ways than one.

Idaho’s victory for the unborn follows Texas’ most recent triumph over legal disputes against its Heartbeat Act. Last week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the law against the abortion industry’s latest challenge, ensuring that abortion groups cannot sue to end the law because it relies on private citizens rather than state agents for its enforcement.

SB 1309 now heads to the desk of Republican Governor Brad Little for his signature. This bill actually amends an existing heartbeat protection law that the governor signed last April. That law nearly went into effect last year after successful court rulings on the Texas Heartbeat Act. However, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law and the addition of some necessary language, this new Idaho bill is poised to go into effect 30 days after the governor’s signature.

Idaho also has a law that would protect unborn life from conception set to supersede this heartbeat law and go into effect whenever Roe v. Wade is overturned. As the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the potential to return abortion legislation jurisdiction to the states could be within reach. Passing this heartbeat protection shows that the people of Idaho want to protect unborn life now and are looking forward to the day when they can finally protect unborn life from conception.

Idaho, nicknamed the “Gem State” for its abundance of mineral resources, has taken an enormous step toward protecting its most precious natural resource: children. Texas and Idaho have demonstrated their commitment to saving the unborn from abortion to the greatest extent possible under the existing framework of Roe. Will the other 12 states with existing heartbeat protection laws that are not currently enforceable follow suit?

For more information about state abortion laws, see: frc.org/prolifemaps

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