Author archives: Chris Gacek

75 Years Ago Today: A D-Day Prayer

by Chris Gacek

June 6, 2019

Seventy-five years ago this morning, 73,000 Americans, 61,715 Britons, and 21,400 Canadians crossed the English Channel and landed on five beaches in the French province of Normandy, northwest of Paris. Twenty-three thousand airborne troops were dropped behind enemy lines.  The massive scale of the logistical operation supporting the invasion is almost beyond comprehension. (See this article by Stephen Green.)

In less than a year, these forces would be in the heart of Germany along with the armed forces of the Soviet Union. Many, many tens of thousands would be killed, wounded, or taken prisoner.  Many of the Americans who lost their lives are buried in Europe in beautiful cemeteries maintained by the United States government. One of those cemeteries is the Normandy American Cemetery which President Trump will visit today.

For those of us who were not alive then, it is hard to imagine what it must have been like to live through the events of that day relying solely on AM radios for news. Fortunately, some of the news bulletins of that morning beginning around 3 a.m. can be still be heard. This recording imparts so much information and context for the events of that day. 

On that evening, President Franklin Roosevelt addressed the nation. America already knew that the invasion was underway. That was not the main purpose of the president’s remarks. Rather, he spoke to the nation to pray for the men who were now in peril and to ask God for martial success. 

Roosevelt wrote a beautiful prayer and read it with such clarity, eloquence, and calm energy that it takes little imagination to understand why he was such a potent political figure. Yesterday, in Portsmouth, England, President Trump read excerpts of it as part of the D-Day commemoration attended by the Queen of England, many European heads of state, and 300 survivors of the invasion who were honored guests at the ceremony.

Here is the prayer that President Roosevelt delivered on the evening of June 6, 1944: 

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them — help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace, a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.

77 Years Ago Today: The Battle of Midway

by Chris Gacek

June 4, 2019

As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches this week, I recently had reason to remember the heroic sacrifices of three great Americans who fought at the Battle of Midway on this date in 1942—a mere seven months after the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor.

This past Saturday, I attended a wedding in the beautiful chapel of the United States Naval Academy. The reception was held nearby at United States Naval Academy Club.  As one might imagine, the Naval Academy Club is a historic building, and one of its rooms had paintings and photographs of heroic graduates who fought the Second World War. There were painted portraits of Admirals Nimitz and Spruance. There was a photograph of Admiral Jack Fletcher, the operational commander at the Battles of the Coral Sea and soon afterward at Midway.

However, what struck me most was a beautiful plaque (pictured above) dedicated to three naval aviators, all former midshipman, who were killed in action at the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. Each former USNA graduate died serving as the commanding officer of a torpedo bomber squadron while attacking the Japanese fleet. There was one squadron from the Enterprise (Squadron 6 – Eugene E. Lindsey); one from the Yorktown (Squadron 3 – Edward Massey); and one from the Hornet (Squadron 8 – John Charles Waldron). Each was awarded the Navy Cross. Most of the aviators in these squadrons lost their lives attacking the Japanese fleet that day.

As the plaque noted:

The torpedo attacks of Waldron, Lindsey, and Massey had followed hard upon each other by luck. What was not luck, but the soul of the United States in action, was the willingness of the torpedo plane squadrons to go in against hopeless odds. This was the extra ounce of martial weight that in a few decisive minutes tipped the balance of history.

I was so thankful that someone had lovingly and painstakingly taken the time to honor these men in a manner that allowed me to be reminded of the skill, dedication, and bravery it took for this free American to enjoy a perfect June wedding reception on such hallowed ground.

Scalise Shooting Declared to be an Act of Terrorism Under Virginia Law, So Why is the FBI Confused?

by Chris Gacek

November 2, 2017

On October 6th, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Alexandria, Va., announced his findings in a report regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers during the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise (R-La.) and others at a baseball field on June 14, 2017.[i] Bryan L. Porter concluded that the multiple shooting and attempted mass assassination constituted an act of terrorism under Virginia law.

The Porter report is significant because its conclusion stands in sharp contrast to the report offered by two FBI officials at a press conference eight days after the shooting.[ii] Andrew Vale, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, indicated that the shooter acted alone and that there was “no nexus to terrorism.”[iii] He also stated that the agency would be investigating the shooting as an assault on a member of Congress and an assault on a federal officer. No indication was given that a terrorism investigation was being conducted, and the statements made seemed to downplay the shooter’s ideological and political beliefs.

It is important to recall the key facts in the case. Early on the morning of June 14, Rep. Scalise, the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives, and numerous other GOP House members and senators were the primary targets of a mass assassination attempt at an Alexandria baseball diamond. Scalise was shot in the hip and nearly died from his wounds. Two other players on the field, not elected officials, were shot and received dangerous wounds. Two United States Capitol Police agents, present as part of the protective detail for Rep. Scalise, were wounded by gunfire—one seriously.[iv] The would-be assassin, James T. Hodgkinson, was killed after being shot three times.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan L. Porter made the following observation about the would-be assassin’s political affiliation and motivations:

Hodgkinson held strong political opinions and was very unhappy about the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. He spent a significant amount of time on social media, using it to express his political views, such as his strong support for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

Another example of this is that Hodgkinson “liked” the Southern Poverty Law Center on Facebook—indicating that he was a fan of the organization and its attacking brand of politics.

Citing the Virginia terrorism statute, Porter confidently concluded, “The evidence in this case establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect, fueled by rage against Republican legislators, decided to commit an act of terrorism as that term is defined by the Code of Virginia.”[v]

Page 9 of Porter’s report may contain the most significant information pointing to the FBI’s misjudgment in the case—evidence that Hodgkinson conducted a number of surveillance sweeps of the playing field. After the shooting, there was a report to police that Hodgkinson had parked his van at the field on June 10th and walked around the field “casing” it. Porter reported that “at least one member of the Republican baseball team remembered seeing the suspect sitting in the Simpson field stands and watching the team practice on the morning before the incident, June 13.”[vi]  

The Alexandria prosecutor’s report also noted that video files from Hodgkinson’s phone “show video of [the baseball diamond] recorded in April 2017.” This field cannot be described as a tourist site in Alexandria. Rather, it is a relatively unattractive part of the city that one would not visit at 7 a.m. but for the baseball practice. Furthermore, “several witnesses came forward and reported seeing the suspect walking around [the field] in May 2017.” Porter observed that “[f]rom these facts, it may be inferred that the suspect had already selected Simpson Field as a potential target as early as April 2017.”

Even if one does not agree with Porter that Hodgkinson had determined his course of action in April or May 2017, his viewing the practice the day before and looking over the location on June 10th gives strong evidence as to his intentionality in committing the shooting. Of course, this is only underscored by the widely known fact that Hodgkinson had asked two members of the GOP team only moments before the shooting, while walking into the parking lot, whether the Democrat or Republican team was practicing. When told that the GOP team was on the field, he replied “ok, thanks” and proceeded to get his rifle and pistol from his van. The shooting began shortly thereafter.

The shooting was no spur-of-the-moment loss of control by Hodgkinson. It tied into his ideological animosity to the political views of the men he was trying to assassinate, and he intended to kill as many of them as he could.  

The Patriot Act sets forth the definition of “domestic terrorism” at 18 U.S.§ 2331(5). Such terrorism “means activities that”

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended—
     (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
     (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
     (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

It requires little imagination to see how sections 2331(5)(B)(ii) or (iii) might apply to Hodgkinson’s mass assassination attempt. Given his strong anti-Republican and hard-left beliefs combined with his effort to kill numerous members of the U.S. House and Senate, Hodgkinson could easily be seen to be attempting to influence federal government policy by intimidation or coercion—by shooting leading political figures of the majority party in both legislative bodies.

Moreover, it is straightforward to see Hodgkinson’s actions as attempting to influence the conduct of government by assassination. At the very least, dead or significantly wounded members don’t vote or lead while incapacitated. The Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives had been taken from his duties for almost four months, and he may now assess his political future differently. Even though he did not kill any members of Congress, his actions clearly affected our government if only for the horrific effect it had on Majority Whip Scalise.

All of these facts that were available to Mr. Porter and his prosecutor’s office in Virginia were also available to the FBI. Yet, a conservative reading of the federal domestic terrorism definition makes it clear that Hodgkinson’s actions should be characterized by the FBI as terrorism. Yet, the FBI stated eight days after the shooting that there was no nexus to terrorism. Why the rush to shut down a proper inquiry?

Congress needs to look into this and discover why the FBI is mischaracterizing what took place in Alexandria. It isn’t fair to Mr. Scalise or the other victims of this crime. More significantly, it is not accurate, honest, or truthful, and the American people deserve better.

It is a matter of great importance that our leading law enforcement agency understand terrorism. If the FBI cannot apply the law to simple facts, then it may be time for Congress to make some changes in that agency and its Washington field office.



[i] Bryan L. Porter, Use of Force Investigation and Analysis, Commonwealth’s Attorney, City of Alexandria (Oct. 6, 2017) (https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/commattorney/info/17-001%20-%20Simpson%20Field%20Shooting%20-%20FINAL%2010.06.17.pdf).

[ii] Law Enforcement Press Conference on the Shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and others, FBI Field Office, Washington, D.C.(June 21, 2017): https://www.facebook.com/wjlatv/videos/10155472388738734/ (Facebook page for WJLA-TV). The two FBI officials who participated were Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge, Washington Field Office, and Timothy Slater, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Division, Washington Field Office.

[iii] It is possible for an act of terrorism itself to have no “nexus to terrorism” – in the sense of a wider terror network, but Vale could have made this more clear.

[iv] Both members of Rep. Scalise’s protective detail, Special Agent David Bailey and Special Agent Crystal Griner, were fired upon; Griner was severely wounded after being shot in her left ankle.

[v]See Va. Code § 18.46.4. In the pertinent part, the Code of Virginia defines an ‘Act of Terrorism’ as ‘an act of violence… committed with the intent to (i) intimidate the civilian population at large or (ii) influence the conduct or activities of the government of the United States, a state or locality through intimidation.’” Carla Branch, “Commonwealth’s Attorney Finds Use Of Deadly Force In June 14 Shooting Justified,” AlexandriaNews.org (Oct. 6, 2017) (http://www.alexandrianews.org/2017/10/commonwealths-attorney-finds-use-of-deadly-force-in-june-14-shooting-justified/).

[vi] Porter, Use of Force Investigation and Analysis, at 9. 

Even Liberal Feminists Can’t Resist Committed Love and Marriage

by Chris Gacek

June 5, 2017

Caitlin Flanagan is an insightful contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic.  She values the place of hearth and home in all our lives and defends housewifery while not being a social conservative in today’s parlance. For example, in 2006 she published a book, To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife.  Flanagan is a contrarian who draws the ire of many feminists and is clearly not considered part of the group. Even though she announced her inability to vote for Hillary Clinton because she believed the Bill Clinton rape victim stories, she is not a Republican.

Now, a hard-core feminist attorney and well-known writer, Jill Filipovic, has written a new book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness, and Flanagan has written a review of it in The Washington Post.

Apparently, Filipovic had hewed the standard feminist disdain for traditional male-female relationship dynamics. Flanagan gives her a little grief after revealing a big change in Filipovic’s life—she found a man: 

But reader: There’s a plot twist. It turns out that Jill Fil[i]povic — feminist, badass, rejecter of all that is conventional — is . . . engaged! “I had never been so immediately drawn to someone or felt myself so eager to talk to someone,” she tells us of her new love, and she embarked upon “a love affair unlike anything I had experienced.” It turns out that he has a big, important job in Africa, and — screw feminism! — she packed her bags and followed him. It’s bliss: “He is sometimes the only person I talk to in the course of a day” — and she loves it. “There is a long list of reasons I would marry him,” she confides chattily, queen bee at the Tri Delt pajama party. “As far as individual days go,” she hopes her wedding will be “one of the happiest.” She even starts firing off some of the most socially conservative facts this side of CPAC: “Women report higher levels of sexual satisfaction when they’re in monogamous relationships,” and couples “have more sex than their unmarried counterparts.” Whose side is she on, anyway?

Flanagan further observes, “The truth is that there is great value in what she is doing.” That is, risking one’s career path to follow and be with the person one loves, then “making a lifelong commitment to him or her, establishing a home together that protects you both from the buffeting and heartless forces of the marketplace—those are sustaining and nourishing choices.”

Flanagan concludes with this:

The author spent two years criss-crossing the country in search of the key to female happiness, but it turns out she was wearing the ruby slippers all along. It’s like Jim Dobson and Ted Cruz teamed up to write a movie. What are you gonna do? There’s no place like home.

I also recommend this review of Filipovic’s book at National Review by Alexandra DeSanctis. She summarizes the strengths and weaknesses in H-Spot this way: “What’s perhaps most interesting about the book is Filipovic’s ability to correctly identify issues that prey uniquely on modern women—single motherhood, sexual assault and domestic violence, eating disorders, the hyper-sexualization of advertisements and the resulting objectification of women—and yet to so completely miss the mark on the causes of and solutions to these ailments.”

At the end of the day, Flanagan provides, in her examination of Filipovic’s present life, that the modern Left’s feminist worldview doesn’t comport with male and female reality. It often presents a self-defeating ethic that seeks a lowest common denominator existence by spurning “patriarchal” institutions like marriage and family. Filipovich previously rejected the norms of marriage, but she seems to have her ideological predilections subverted, at least temporarily, by a nobler vision of life. She has stumbled into a deeper truth: that we human beings were created for deep and loving relationships. First in the union of male and female in marriage, and then in our eternal relationship with God.

A Fitting Tribute to Memorial Day

by Chris Gacek

May 26, 2017

If you want to do something on Memorial Day Weekend to honor those fallen and missing in our wars, I suggest that you watch a magnificent PBS documentary entitled, “These Hallowed Grounds.” PBS describes the film this way:

Hallowed Grounds visits 22 of America’s overseas military cemeteries, and tells the story of these remarkable places with historical sequences about the wars and battles that created them, and moving vignettes and interviews about the men and women who rest in them. Created after World War I and World War II, these cemeteries are some of America’s great national treasures.

There are a number of different ways to watch it. PBS provides this site that allows it to be watched online. It can also be watched here on YouTube. Finally, there is an embedded player in this review of the film by Warner Todd Huston (May 29, 2016) on Breitbart.

Even though the documentary describes only the graves of those lost and missing in World War I and World War II, one’s thoughts of those who fell, were wounded, or lost in previous and later wars are not far from one’s mind.

These Hallowed Grounds” is a powerful antidote to the narratives often taught to the young that America has not been a force for good in the world. The story of the fallen and the foreign friends of Americans who visit the cemeteries tell a far different story.

Please watch and remember with your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. They deserve to know the truth about America and its hundreds of thousands of heroes.

The Plight of Jews in Pakistan

by Chris Gacek

April 10, 2017

There are occasions when a simple act provides tremendous clarity about a much larger situation. Such an event took place last week in Pakistan, a country of approximately 200 million that has had a history of religious freedom violations.

According to our State Department, “[t]he [Pakistani] constitution establishes Islam as the state religion, and requires all provisions of the law to be consistent with Islam.” In fact, the constitution establishes a “Federal Shariat Court” whose Muslim judges “examine and decide whether any law or provision is ‘repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.’” Additionally, Pakistan has draconian “blasphemy” laws that are used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities on fabricated charges. Such laws obviously make free discussion of religious thought about Islam virtually impossible.

Ninety-five percent of Pakistan is Muslim (70 percent Sunni, 25 percent Shia). The remaining five percent is made up of Hindus, Christians, Parsis / Zoroastrians, Bahais, Ahmadi Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Kalasha, Kihals, and Jains. Apparently, there are too few Jews to note statistically. Citizens of Pakistan must register their religious affiliation with the government.

According to a recent report in the Jerusalem Post, a 29-year-old Pakistani man named Fischel Benkald was informed last week that as he had requested, “the religious status in his National Database and Registration Authority profile [would] be changed from Muslim to Jew…” Mr. Benkald is the first Pakistani citizen to be permitted to change his religious status from Muslim to Jew since the 1980s.

Benkald’s birth name was Faisal, and he was raised in Karachi by a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. He was also allowed to assume a Yiddish first name, “Fischel.” The change in religious affiliation was requested three years ago, and might very well have been denied without intervention from forces outside Pakistan. Wilson Chowdry, the chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, plead Benkald’s case with the Pakistani High Commission in London (i.e., the Pakistani embassy to the United Kingdom in London).

The national identity card is critical to all aspects of life for Pakistanis seeking to interact with their government. According to the Post, it “contains one’s name, date of birth, photo, a thumbprint and religion.”

The lack of religious freedom for anyone but Muslims is extreme in Pakistan. Christians are persecuted, but Jews historically received even worse treatment. Anti-Semitism caused Jews to flee the nation after the Israeli War for Independence and that nation’s founding in 1948. It is believed that there were over a thousand Jews in Karachi seventy years ago. Now there are virtually none. Mr. Chowdry told the Post that “hundreds of Jews are now living secretly in Pakistan.”

Apparently, Mr. Benkald did not assert in his application that an outright religious conversion from Islam had taken place. In effect, he claimed that he was in a distinct, exceptional category: “Benkald argue[d] that he never left Islam because he was born to a Jewish mother and therefore ha[d] always been Jewish.” This is true as Jews would define the matter. For whatever reason, the authorities approved his application, but his troubles are far from over.

The Post noted a Fox News story that said “a 2010 Pew survey found that 76 percent of Pakistanis advocate the death penalty for leaving Islam.” Hopefully, he will be left in peace or somehow be able to seek refuge in Israel. That said, a country in which religious conversion holds a significant probability of death or injury is not a country that allows any appreciable religious liberty regardless of any constitutional rhetoric to the contrary.

In any case, one has to greatly admire Mr. Benkald’s amazing bravery while praying for his safety. Western nations who cherish religious freedom, as well as Israel, should keep an eye out for him and his family.

Christianity in Iraq Appears Doomed to Extinction

by Chris Gacek

April 4, 2017

The condition of Christianity in the Middle East may now be as imperiled as it has been at almost any time in the last 2,000 years. This is particularly true in Iraq, according to Canon Andrew White, who led St. George’s Church in Baghdad. St. George’s was the only Anglican Church in Iraq before its closure was ordered by the Archbishop of Canterbury in November 2014.

Canon White believes, with considerable justification from public statements made by ISIS and its innumerable acts of rape, torture, and murder, that the terrorist group intends to drive the “infidel” Christians out of the region. Before he fled Iraq over two years ago, White was part of a community of Christians that had decreased from 1.4 million (some thirty years ago), to 1 million when Saddam Hussein was toppled by allied forces in 2003, to a quarter of a million today.

The plight of Jews in Iraq is a sobering foreshadowing of what may happen soon to Christians. The Jewish population has declined cataclysmically since World War II—to essentially nothing. This marks the demise of a people that traced its lineage in Iraq back to the Babylonian Captivity described in the Old Testament after the fall of Jerusalem. A substantial Jewish community lived in that land with great success for two millennia. In 1947, there appear to have been 156,000 Jews in Iraq. Today, there are virtually no Jews in the country—fewer than ten live in Baghdad at present. Thus, complete population extinctions that are not caused by disease can take place.

White described the situation for Christians as follows: “The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some say Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited.”

The stories of persecution and killing (in some cases by crucifixion) of Christians to compel their conversion to Islam are commonplace. The level of barbarism can hardly be described with any word other than “demonic.”

Clearly, past tolerance for non-Islamic communities and the older social order has been shattered. Consequently, even if ISIS is destroyed, the Shiite-Iranian dominated groups that will control Iraq in their place do not seem especially friendly to Christians. Ignatius Joseph III Younan, Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church of Antioch, points to a deep intellectual flaw in the nature of Islamic thought as the problem: “totalitarianism based on Islamic creed is the worst among all systems of government.” He goes on to observe that “the very survival of Christians in the cradle of Christianity is quite in danger.”

The United States government is not without some influence in the area. Although nobody seems to know it, the U.S. has over 10,000 service members fighting in Syria and Iraq. However, our foreign policy establishment has made little effort to require protections for religious minorities. The Trump administration must go in a new direction. For example, President al-Sisi of Egypt met President Trump yesterday while Coptic Christians are undergoing severe persecution in Egypt. The United States has sufficient leverage with Egypt regarding military and financial aid to ensure that this persecution is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Syria and Iraq are more complicated given the anarchy that exists there now, but our government needs to make this a priority. 

There are excellent non-governmental organizations working in Irbil, now part of an inchoate Kurdish homeland, who will gladly work with us to save the ancient populations of Yazidis and Christians. However, for this to happen, we have to give these concerns priority in our foreign policy reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s blending of human rights considerations with traditional diplomatic and military policies. It was a world-changing combination that, if incorporated today, could make Mr. Trump a successful foreign policy president.

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.

The Condescension of the Establishment Media Regarding Life

by Chris Gacek

January 31, 2017

Last Friday, the annual March for Life took place here in Washington, D.C. It was a successful, peaceful, non-vulgar event as it has been for over forty years. This year, Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the event, making him the highest ranked government official to ever address the March. Hundreds of thousands of people participated—this time-lapse video of the attendees processing toward the Supreme Court gives some idea of the crowd’s significant size.

Crowds of this size have been typical at the March for Life for many years, but the establishment news media has pretty much ignored the March because they support abortion on demand as a policy and have little regard for the pro-life movement. Typical of this disregard and disdain was a short announcement in the New York Times by Jeremy Peters the day before the March indicating that Mr. Pence would speak there the next day.

Peters begins his description of the news in the first paragraph by saying “Vice President Mike Pence will speak on Friday to a gathering of anti-abortion activists on the National Mall…” The description reeks of an attempt to diminish the March.

The largest annual event for those who hold to a range of values about defending life is described merely as a “gathering.” This is technically true—but in the same way that the Rose Bowl game is a “gathering” of football fans near a playing field in Pasadena.

Next we see the annual March described as a meet-up for “anti-abortion activists on the National Mall,” a description that is inadequate, to say the least. There may be a large number “activists” at the March, but, unless you are going to employ the tautology that any attendee who wants abortion ended is an activist, there were tens of thousands of participants who come merely to express concern and sorrow about the loss of lives abortion has caused. They are not political or social activists—they may be priests, pastors, and everyday Americans who “act” by praying tirelessly for abortion’s demise.

Were all those who marched with Dr. King in 1963 “activists”? I think that would be an inaccurate characterization of that group as well. Does standing in public against injustice make you an “activist”? I don’t think so. Christians are exhorted “to stand” and reject the perception that something is accepted by the church when it is not in actuality (see Ephesians 6:13 and Daniel 3). Many of those who attend the March for Life do so merely to leave their normal walks of life for a day “to stand” with the unborn. Many men and women also come to stand as acts of contrition for abortions in which they have participated.

Finally, the usage of the terms “anti-abortion” and “anti-abortion activist” by the media is a characterization that allows for the easiest stereotyping and dismissal of those marchers. This phrasing might be acceptable if those who support abortion, like many who attended the Women’s March held here on January 21st, were always referred to as “pro-abortion,” but they are not. Euphemisms like “pro-choice” have been used for decades to misdirect from the reality of abortion.

At the very least, the people at last Friday’s event were concerned with many bioethical issues beyond abortion like euthanasia, fetal tissue harvesting, cloning, and the creation of human-animal hybrids. “Anti-abortion” is an easy but incomplete way to characterize the depth and breadth of the pro-life movement.

The March for Life is a beautiful thing that deserves better treatment. I don’t mean to batter Mr. Peters—he seems like an able journalist who was probably working on a deadline and a word-count. But with that said, the time is long overdue when America’s “paper of record” should be able to write ably and fairly about a critical component of the pro-life movement, a social movement that is winning the argument.

The ACC’s Bullying of North Carolina is Unacceptable

by Chris Gacek

December 2, 2016

On Saturday, the Atlantic Coast Conference (“ACC”) is scheduled to hold its conference football championship at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando when No. 3 Clemson plays Virginia Tech. This championship had been held in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 2010 with an average attendance each year of 70,000.

Why the change? The Conference interjected itself into the political affairs of North Carolina when it decided to publicly repudiate the state’s rejection of transgender bathroom policies. Most outrageously, the ACC announced in mid-September that it would move ten 2016-17 neutral-site championships out of North Carolina. Hence the move to Orlando for the game tomorrow.

I have no issue with the ACC acting as a good citizen and promoting a society that judges young men and women according to their talent and perseverance. That is one of the great virtues of athletic competition. However, it is something altogether different for the ACC to dive into an ongoing political debate with the goal of overturning the will of the people of North Carolina and coerce them into submission.

The ACC was founded in North Carolina and has been embraced by it for many decades. Yet, at the drop of a hat, it appears the Commission has had little difficulty betraying those who have loved it for so long. And, make no mistake, it has done this by implying that the people of North Carolina are bigots. Nothing could be further from the truth. North Carolinians are merely skeptical about the wisdom and propriety of the government mandating that biological males be allowed to enter women’s restrooms, changing rooms, locker rooms, and showers.

At the very least, one might have expected some humility from the ACC. After all, its new operating philosophy is novel, untested, and radically at odds with the biological basis of all human sexuality. Unfortunately, humility does not appear to be one of the ACC’s core values.

Over many decades, the ACC and the Christian community have forged an especially strong relationship in North Carolina. Good relationships are not one-way streets, and even the strongest partnerships can sour. If the ACC believes it can subjugate the rule of law to simple economics, it should think again. North Carolina citizens elected both their legislators and their governor. To insert yourself as de facto jury in this process and render a verdict on a law in which the ACC plays no part, is contemptible.

The ACC’s attitude resembles nothing so much as the self-satisfied arrogance of the Clinton campaign before the people spoke in the voting booth. The cultural elites running her White House bid managed to convince a multi-state swathe of America that it cared more about bathroom policies than whether men and women could find jobs and decent health insurance.

The ACC depends greatly on the continued support it receives from North Carolina’s local and state governments. Its member institutions are subsidized by evangelical Christians who, as taxpayers and voters, are needed to support its costly facilities, highly-paid Conference administrators, lavishly-funded coaching staffs, and numerous athletes—athletes who are unpaid, voiceless, and indentured to the Conference.

In an era of increased moral posturing and preening, perhaps the ACC’s business practices should be more closely scrutinized by those Republican super-majorities in both houses of the North Carolina legislature. Perhaps it is time for the much-condescended-to People to reevaluate the nature and terms of this relationship. Who does make all the money off those athletic shoe deals?

The ACC’s decision to enter the culture war as a partisan opponent of voting Christians needs to be reversed immediately. To the extent practicable, neutral site championships need to be rescheduled for play in North Carolina. Barring a return of prior policies and the recognition of the right of the people of North Carolina to enact reasonable laws regarding public health and safety, the relationship between the ACC and our community is indefinitely fractured.

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