Author archives: Lela Mayfield

Decriminalization of Prostitution: Anything but Empowering to Women

by Natasha Tax

January 5, 2016

Amnesty International recently made a declaration to support the full decriminalization of prostitution. This should concern everyone who believes in human dignity and the rights of women.

Amnesty International’s support for the “decriminalization of all aspects of sex work” comes with the intention to “advocate for the human rights of sex workers.” [1] While they have claimed that this movement is in the best interest of prostitutes, decriminalizing prostitution is not only a bad solution to the “sex work” industry, it would lead to more violence, abuse, and ill-health for the vulnerable women who fall into this dangerous industry.

It is important to understand why Amnesty International is supporting this radical proposition in the first place. Often, law enforcement punishes women who engage in prostitution, instead of the pimps and those who pay for sex. However, decriminalizing prostitution will make it even more difficult to enable women to break away from the deadly cycle of reliance upon and abuse by the men who use them.

 Human trafficking is already an international epidemic; annually, there are almost 21 million victims worldwide.[2] We already know that developed countries with legalized prostitution, like Germany and Australia, have seen an increase in human trafficking, as the demand for prostitutes and sex slaves—including children—has increased.[3] Common sense and social science tell us that decriminalizing prostitution would only exacerbate this problem.

Much of the dialogue in this debate is about empowering women, a specious, even absurd claim. Some feminist voices claim that women have a “right to prostitution[4].” The author of one article even claims that a woman’s right to prostitution should be the legal equivalent to her right to work in a factory.[5] While working in a factory has the potential to be harmful, the act of providing sex for payment is inherently harmful, as well as intrinsically dehumanizing. The truth is that “safe” prostitution is impossible. The very act of indiscriminate sex based on financial transaction is the blatant and dangerous commodification of women. According to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, “80% of women in street prostitution had been threatened with a weapon at least once,” and “more than 50% of the women reported experiencing violence from sexual buyers.” [6] Any other industry whose workers had a 50% chance of being abused at any given time would be considered a disaster, not a necessary evil that just has to be accepted.

While Amnesty International claims that its goal is to make the nearly $100 billion sex trade industry[7] “safer” for women, decriminalizing it is certainly not the solution. Amnesty International’s proposal is inherently defeatist. Decriminalizing prostitution would be the systemic acknowledgement that many women have no recourse for supporting themselves but to sell their own bodies; this is a toxic pessimism that no civilized society should accept. The only safe sex industry is one that punishes pimps and sex buyers, and provides resources for its victims to recover. Amnesty International’s proposition to decriminalize sex work is boldly anti-woman. The pro-woman approach is to protect them from an industry that seeks to use and abuse them.  Women deserve better than prostitution.

 

Natasha Tax is currently attending Temple University and was a former Family Research Council intern.



[1]  Murphy, Catherine. “Amnesty International.” Sex Workers’ Rights Are Human Rights. Amnesty International, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

[2] “New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 Million Victims.” New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 Million Victims. International Labor Organization, 1 June 2012. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[3]O’Brian, Cheryl. “An Analysis on Global Sex Trafficking.” Indiana Journal of Political Science. Purdue University, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[4] Fisanick, Christina. “Women Have the Right to Be Prostitutes.” Opposing Viewpoints. Greenhaven Press, 2008. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[5] Bell, Kelly. “A Feminist Article on How Sex Work Can Benefit Women.” Student Pulse. Pulse, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[6]  Thompson, Lisa. “Prostitution “The Zone” of Raw Male Physical and Sexual Violence.” National Center on Sexual Exploitation. National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

[7] “Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labor—International Labor Organization, 2014.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, 20 June 2014. Web. 2 Nov. 2015.

 

World Congress of Families: The Pro-Family Movement is in Good Hands

by Natasha Tax

November 17, 2015

Since the 1990’s, The annual World Congress of Families has been bringing together thousands of people who come from all over the world, practice a diversity of religions, and speak a multitude of languages. Despite their differences, each participant has one important belief in common: the natural family is essential to society. These world congresses, which could be described as the Olympics of the family, have for decades been uniting scholars, activists, statesmen, and religious leaders to discuss critical issues relevant to the family. The most recent World Congress of Families, held in late October, was significantly more vibrant and aspirational than those held previously.

The reason for this optimistic change is the addition of 250 Emerging Youth Leaders in the Pro-Family Movement. Several years ago, the planning committee for the 9th World Congress of Families decided that they wanted to engage young people who are passionate about pro-family values, so they established a scholarship program for young people to compete for the opportunity to attend the congress. The Emerging Leaders selected to participate come from 40 countries, and are all working in their respective communities to encourage respect for marriage, life, and the family.

From testifying at the UN, to running their town’s pro-life organization, to beginning conservative activism on their college campuses, to counteracting the media’s liberal bias (among other notable endeavors), these scholars are doing work from small towns to national governments to support the family. At this year’s congress, many of these young people—who often feel as though they are alone in their values—were humbled and encouraged to meet other activists like themselves from around the world.

The World Congress of Families only lasted a week, but it was a watershed event for the Emerging Leaders, who are just beginning their careers. The contacts they made and experts they engaged with left a lasting impression which further motivated them to stand for the family. Throughout the week, each scholar worked on a project initiating an organization, website, or campaign that encourages the family. Within the next few weeks, the best project will receive funding and support from World Congress leaders so that the creator’s dream can come to fruition. Many believe the false notion that young people have abandoned conservative family values, but the passionate and vocal Emerging Youth Leaders who gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah this past month are a strong indication that the future of the pro-family movement is in good hands.

A Surprising, Pro-Life Lesson from Dr. Seuss

by Katelin Myers

October 30, 2015

A person’s a person, no matter how small!”

Many children grow up reading Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who, the classic story of a brave elephant who works to protect the tiny people of Whoville from destruction. At the end of the tale, the Whos are saved because Horton believes he has a duty to protect those who can’t protect themselves. Horton famously states, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” Though Dr. Seuss may not have intended it, this story teaches a timeless lesson on the value of life, no matter how small it is.

It is interesting that such a simple and eloquent pro-life statement was spoken by a fictional elephant. If only some Members of Congress would think like Horton and see the value inherent in all lives. If only they would see that a child is a child no matter how small and that we all have a duty to protect life from those who wish to take it away.

There was a time when the abortion industry thrived on the lie that life does not begin at conception, and therefore an abortion does not kill a child. However, science caught up and debunked this claim, so next the industry took refuge in the belief that unborn children do not feel pain, which has now also been disproven. Now, with their foundation crumbling beneath them, the abortion lobby has elected to ignore the life matter altogether and focus on women’s rights (or, as was the case during a recent Planned Parenthood hearing, the need for gun control, better sex education, and various other off-topic subjects).

According to Planned Parenthood supporters at the hearing, the investigation into the abortion giant’s alleged illegal activities is nothing more than a campaign against the “right of a woman to choose what to do with her own body.” Based on this false characterization of the effort to bring the truth to light, Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong – that is, if you don’t count selling body parts for profit (which is illegal according to 42 U.S. Code § 274e), the daily butchering of innocent babies, failing to report on victims of rape or incest, endangering and permanently injuring their patients, and continuously profiting off government funding, just to name a few examples of the harm this organization does.

Just to be clear, I believe in and support women’s rights—the right to vote, to bear arms, freedom of speech, and all those rights specifically laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Killing an unborn child via abortion is not a human right, but the right to life is. We must also recognize the predatory nature of the abortion industry: Women experiencing great difficulty are exploited by those purveying the death of an unborn little one for profit.

Moreover, if pro-abortion activists want women’s rights protected, shouldn’t that protection extend to women in the womb? Thousands of voiceless girls have lost their lives as others have spoken for them, but thankfully, there are women who choose to hear and protect the vulnerable ones they carry. Brianna was one of these voiceless girls.

When Brianna was in her mother’s womb, she was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a defect in which the developing abdominal wall does not close and thus allows internal organs—in Brianna’s case, her small intestine—to develop outside the body. Her mother’s doctor advised her to have an abortion, saying it would be “kinder to terminate” the child than for Brianna to live a physically challenging life. By God’s grace, Brianna’s mother believed her child was a “person, no matter how small” and chose to carry and deliver her child. Though the pregnancy and recovery was difficult, Brianna is a healthy, thriving eighteen year old woman today.

So what about Brianna? Did she, as a woman, get a say in whether she should be allowed to live or not? Unfortunately, in our nation, a person is only a person when she can survive outside the womb. If only we could remember that God made all people in His image and that they deserve to be protected, since “a person’s a person, no matter how small!”

Katelin Myers is currently an intern at Family Research Council and a senior studying Pre-Law at Liberty University. She was formerly the assistant program director at Greater Grace World Outreach and has spent time abroad in Asia and South America.

Senator Lee Response to NY Times Editorial on the First Amendment

by Mandi Ancalle

September 23, 2015

Earlier this month, the New York Times published an editorial regarding the First Amendment Defense Act (“FADA,” H.R. 2802 / S. 1598), alleging “G.O.P. anti-gay bigotry threatens [the] First Amendment.” However, FADA is neither bigoted nor a threat to the First Amendment.

In fact, the editorial contains a number of misrepresentations and outright lies about the original bill that was introduced and fails to address the new language Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Raul Labrador (R-ID) are pushing. Senator Lee’s letter to the Editor briefly responded to the inflammatory Times editorial.

In his letter, Senator Lee highlights that we “must come to these debates with tolerance and modesty.” Senator Lee also clarifies that the reason he is pushing for passage of FADA is that he is “concerned about what the solicitor general told the Supreme Court: that after Obergefell, the decision that legalized same-sex marriage, faith-based institutions providing valuable public services could lose their nonprofit status because of their now-heterodox beliefs about marriage. Without new protections provided by FADA, hospitals could lose Medicaid funding, and K-12 institutions could have their nonprofit status revoked.” Essentially, the impetus behind the First Amendment Defense Act is a fear of federal government persecution of believers, not outrage over gay rights.

In fact, Senator Lee clarifies that FADA would not “negate federal anti-discrimination measures protecting gays and lesbians. To the contrary, the bill does not alter any civil rights protections, state or federal.” The bill simply says the federal government may not penalize, through tax policy or the grant and contracting processes, those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling. The bill does not attempt to overturn the ruling, and, in fact, explicitly prevents a denial of federal benefits authorized under the Court’s new marriage definition. FADA is not an endorsement of discrimination—logically, a bill that explicitly prevents discrimination does not thereby also provide a “legal justification to discriminate.”

The Times editorial presumes that same-sex couples must not only be allowed to be married, which the Court has ruled, but also that the government must force everyone to affirm that view. This view distorts a live and let live approach on the question of marriage, and makes clear the liberal left does not simply want to secure rights for people who identify as homosexual, but wants to punish those who disagree with the Supreme Court’s inclusion of same-sex couples in its new definition of marriage. Senators and Representatives should support and co-sponsor FADA to ensure people who believe in a natural view of marriage are not pushed into the periphery of society.

Never Forget

by Joshua Denton

September 11, 2015

Today marks the 14th anniversary since the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001.

The attacks of that painful day marked the greatest single loss of life of rescue personnel in American history. It also was the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil.

This past summer I had the chance to visit for the first time the original site of the Twin Towers.  According to its website, the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.

Bronze panels inscribed with the names of every single person lost in the attacks are a somber testament surrounding the reflecting pools.

I also had the privilege of visiting the 9/11 Museum. It is both awe-inspiring and graphic.  On that day, strangers became friends, helping those who were suffering. On that day rescue workers climbed to their deaths helping occupants of the buildings descend to the hope of life below.

Many displays are very emotional, but one that really struck me was the display of the cross erected at Ground Zero. As the world watched how America would react in this time of unspeakable grief, we bonded together with each other. Literally at the foot of the Cross, which was formed miraculously out of the steel beams of the collapsed buildings.  It remains as it was then,  a symbol of hope and a reminder of Him who sacrificed for all for us.  And it reminds us of those brave men and women who gave their lives on 9/11 so others might live.

The rubbish took a total of eight months to clear, after which the rebuilding process began.

In 2014, the One World Trade Center was completed, becoming the tallest building in the United States with more than 100 stories. 

Today, we remember those whose lives were taken on that fateful day 14 years ago. We will never forget.

An Insufficient Accommodation

by Lindsey Keiser

August 3, 2015

Can an accommodation be accompanied by a requirement that essentially negates the accommodation and still be seen as sufficient?

To answer this question, we can use a simple example, which arises in the context of employment.

When you ask for a day off – and that day off is granted – you do not expect to be required to come in on your day off in order to tell your boss you won’t be there for the day. That would negate the grant of the day off.

The same is true when religious organizations ask for an accommodation from the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act and the government offers an accommodation which does not fully meet the requests of these organizations regarding protection of their religious beliefs. Such an “accommodation” does not eliminate the burden on the religious organizations, yet courts have been approving the government’s “accommodation” as sufficient. Continuing the string of judicial denials of religious organizations’ requests, the Tenth Circuit recently denied an appeal from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged (Little Sisters) finding that, with the “accommodation” offered by the government, there was no substantial burden on the group’s religious beliefs.

Religious organizations like Little Sisters, Priests for Life, and Notre Dame sincerely believe that life begins at conception so they object to providing abortive contraception as part of their employee health insurance plans. As a result of their sincere belief, these non-profits have asked for an accommodation under the HHS Mandate citing the protections of the First Amendment and the bar on the government substantially burdening the free exercise of religion. The religious non-profits have asked to not be required to participate in any aspect of the provision of abortive contraception.

Requiring these organizations to provide abortive contraception in contravention of their beliefs would be a substantial burden which HHS has recognized and for which HHS has created an accommodation. The current accommodation allows religious non-profits to voice their objection to providing abortive contraception by filling out a form or directly notifying HHS. After HHS receives notice of the objection, the insurance company offers and provides the abortive contraception to the employees.

The question remains, however, whether this “accommodation” is actually sufficient.

Yes, the organizations only have to fill out a form or notify HHS of their religious objection, but the mechanism of notification is not the problem. The problem is that the accommodation doesn’t change the end result. Abortive contraception is still being provided as a result of the fact that the organization provides health care for its employees.

As some dissenting judges in the Priests for Life stated, “Where the government imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise and labels it an accommodation, that burden is surely as distressing to adherents as it would be if imposed without such a designation.”

The answer to whether there is a substantial burden even with the current accommodation is tied to our understanding of an accommodation. When we look at the example in the graphic above, it is fairly clear that the agreement made by the boss does not adequately meet the employee’s request for a day off. Similarly, we should ask whether the current accommodation adequately meets the requests of religious organizations to not have to provide abortive contraception – or, as the Little Sisters have pointed out, to “take actions that directly cause others to provide them, or otherwise appear to participate in the government’s delivery scheme.”

The answer is no, the accommodation does not sufficiently meet the requests of these religious organizations and therefore, places a substantial burden on their religious exercise. The form or notification to HHS is an insufficient accommodation because the opting-out by the religious organizations is the direct cause of the receipt of coverage. The dissenting judges in the Priests for Life pointed out, “the harm plaintiffs complain of … is from their inability to conform their own actions and inactions to their religious beliefs without facing massive penalties from the government” (emphasis added by the dissenting judges). This harm does not disappear because their relationship to the provision of the abortive contraception becomes a little more attenuated.

Just as a day off from work which requires you to come into work is not really a day off, an insufficient accommodation is no accommodation at all.

Valley of the Shadow of Death

by Jamie Dangers

July 17, 2015

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”

Recently, I listened, sickened, as Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services cavalierly discussed their harvesting and selling of babies’ organs. She ate and drank casually while describing which parts of the babies’ bodies would be crushed by the forceps and which would not, depending on which organ(s) needed to be kept intact in order to be sold. In great detail, she spoke of how babies would be manipulated into the breech position with ultrasound guidance in order to allow certain organs to be removed more easily. The method she described is suspiciously similar to partial birth abortion. Without shame, she stated that while there is a partial birth abortion ban, “Laws are up to interpretation. So if I say on day one I do not intend to do this, what ultimately happens doesn’t matter.”

Is this really what we have come to? In America, are we literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death? It certainly feels that way.

I know abortion is not always an easy choice that mothers make. I know sometimes girls and women are there out of desperation. I know sometimes they are pressured into it. I know sometimes they feel like they have no way out. I know sometimes they feel like they have nothing to offer their child in life. And I am so very sorry.

Can we take a step back for a minute? Let’s look at the leaders of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and its affiliates. How did they become so callous as to condone the ripping apart of babies and the selling of their hearts, lungs, livers, and muscles, behind closed doors, in violation of law, not to mention violation of basic human ethics? Surely this latest news is enough to finally convince us that PPFA leadership is not passionate about the empowerment of all women and safe reproductive health. They don’t care about compassion. Why? Because they are changing abortion procedures, not to help the women, but to most successfully harvest organs. But goodness, they sure are passionate about keeping the door wide open on “choice,” because without it, how would they make money? They will do anything and everything, vile and horrific, for profit.

They have been so thoroughly deceived and their consciences so seared that they are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, digging that valley even deeper, and they don’t even acknowledge it. They try to make it appealing and honorable. They try to dress up the horror with words like “research” and “consent” and “high-quality health care.” But no one can put a pretty bow on the dismembered bodies littering this valley floor and make it all ok somehow.

In what world do we discuss the nuances of exactly how much money was spent on which organ and whether it was a donation or reimbursement or payment, in order to make it seem less awful?

This is a culture of death that we cannot afford to ignore. It is our culture. We are right in the middle of it, paying for it with our tax dollars, willingly or unwillingly.

A culture of death is a completely logical culture for anyone who doesn’t value life. While we should be nauseated by the grotesque practices of abortionists behind closed doors, it occurs to me that I should not have been shocked. To them, babies are devoid of human dignity and value, so why not make a profit off of their organs? It’s all about the bottom line anyway. They call it fetal tissue. The truth is, those parts are real organs from unborn children. Organ donors are commendable, but abortionists who profit from the organs of babies who cannot give their consent are deplorable.

Sometimes I wish I could run out of this valley, or at least close my eyes and hold my nose to pretend this doesn’t exist. But the fact is, this is where we are. It’s time to decide what to do. Ignoring it, downplaying it, sterilizing it will only result in allowing death to spread. We cannot ignore this. We cannot pretend it isn’t that bad, or that it will go away. It is that bad, and it won’t go away unless we do something about it.

We must fight with love and compassion but also with incredible resolve. This is a deep and dark valley, yes, but love, truth, and compassion can transform it.  Death can be overcome with life, darkness with light. We can raise this valley and clear it of shadows, allowing light to once again shine on it and purify this blood-stained ground.

We are still in this valley of the shadow of death. But let’s not be wearied or discouraged into accepting it as it is. Let’s be the generation that transforms it. Let’s build a culture that celebrates life!

Guttmacher’s Proposition: Taxpayer-Funded Condoms and Vasectomies

by Sean Maguire

July 16, 2015

In the latest issue of the Guttmacher Policy Review, the Guttmacher Institute (formerly the research arm of Planned Parenthood), proposes some changes to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) they feel are necessary to accomplish the goals of that law.

             Obamacare contains many provisions we have only found out about since Congress passed it. The most famous (or infamous) of these is the mandate, administered by the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) department, that requires coverage of 18 forms of contraception, including drugs and devices that can kill embryos.  These are to be funded by taxpayer dollars and included in plans provided by businesses and organizations despite any moral objections they might have.

            Guttmacher is not satisfied with this arrangement. No, it’s not upset that the American people are being forced to pay for potentially embryocidal drugs and devices.  Guttmacher is upset because the HHS mandate hasn’t gone far enough. They are pushing for the mandate to include male sterilization and condoms, all funded by taxpayer money.

            Instead of recognizing the failure of Obamacare to accomplish real healthcare access for the American people, Guttmacher is calling for an expansion of coverage morally unacceptable to tens of millions of taxpayers. They are calling for the implementation of regulations which will mandate insurance coverage of condoms and vasectomies for everyone.

            Guttmacher wants tax dollars to be spent on condoms and vasectomies so that sexual license will not be impeded by a lack of funding or fear of the logical outcome of sexual intimacy: babies. While Guttmacher says it wants the federal government to stay out of the bedroom, they simultaneously demand federal funding of the activities therein.

            It is not the job of the American taxpayer to fund others’ sexual practices, and they should not be forced to do so.

One Hundred Forty-Four Years of Marriage

by Cordell Asbenson

June 24, 2015

Dr. Randy Olson recently released data (reported in the Washington Post) examining the rise and fall of marriages and divorces over the last 144 years. Using data from the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Dr. Olson compares the number of marriages and divorces per 1,000 people year by year. By analyzing these data–instead of the total number of marriages and divorces –Dr. Olson was able accurately to compare the rate of marriages and divorces over the past 144 years despite fluctuations in the population numbers.

The results of the data are disheartening, but expected.  It shows that the number of marriages in the United States has fallen consistently since the 1980s. What is more, the number of marriages has dropped to 6.8 per 1000 people, the lowest it has been since 1867, even lower than during the Great Depression.

Despite the fact that fewer people are getting married, intact marriages are as important now as they have ever been. To learn more about the importance of marriage for individuals, the economy, and society as a whole, visit the Marriage and Religion Research website: http://marri.us/home

Are Americans Having More Babies?

by Cordell Asbenson

June 19, 2015

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released its 2014 preliminary report on births in the United States. It predicts that, for the first time in seven years, the number of births will rise, increasing the average number of births per mother to roughly 1.9% . If accurate, this increase in births has exciting implications, particularly with regard to the economy.

However, the preliminary report has to be viewed with prudent reservation. In the CDC’s 2013 preliminary report on births, the total number of births was projected to rise above the 2012 total. Yet the final report ended up showing an overall decrease in births due to an over-calculation in the preliminary report of more than 25,000 births.

Turning to the 2014 preliminary report, the increased number of births projected is so miniscule that if the miscalculation made in 2013 were repeated in the 2014 preliminary report, then the overall increase in births from 2013-2014 would be roughly 28,000, an overall increase of less than 0.75%.

The projected increase in number of births is an encouraging step in the right direction, but only a small one. We await the release of the final report to better understand these preliminary findings.

On the importance of a higher birthrate in the United States, see the Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s “The Decline of Economic Growth: Human Capital & Population Change.”

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