Category archives: Government

FDA Acknowledges Prenatal Screening Risks, But Fails to Condemn Eugenic Abortion

by Mary Szoch

April 28, 2022

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a statement warning of the “risks associated with non-invasive prenatal screening tests.” The statement reads:

While genetic non-invasive prenatal screening tests are widely used today, these tests have not been reviewed by the FDA and may be making claims about their performance and use that are not based on sound science … Without proper understanding of how these tests should be used, people may make inappropriate health care decisions regarding their pregnancy. We strongly urge patients to discuss the benefits and risks of these tests with a genetic counselor or other health care provider prior to making decisions based on the results of these tests.

Of course, by “inappropriate health care decisions,” the FDA likely means the decision to kill an unborn child.

The statement continues:

Many laboratories offering these tests advertise their tests as “reliable” and “highly accurate,” offering “peace of mind” for patients. The FDA is concerned that these claims may not be supported with sound scientific evidence.

This simple acknowledgment that these tests are not approved by the FDA and their inaccuracy could be leading to abortions that otherwise would not take place comes as a welcome surprise—especially since this is the same agency that just months ago loosened health and safety protocols governing chemical abortion pills despite evidence that these pills are unsafe for pregnant mothers. Although it is riddled with euphemisms and disingenuous word choices, the FDA statement will likely decrease the number of abortions that occur in the United States. However, the FDA is far from adopting a philosophy of respect for life.

In its statement, the FDA also writes:

Conditions caused by a missing chromosome or an extra copy of a chromosome are more common and may be easier to detect, such as Down syndrome, which can cause physical and intellectual challenges. A missing or extra piece of a chromosome may result in rarer conditions, such as DiGeorge syndrome, which can cause heart defects, feeding difficulties, immune system problems and learning difficulties. … Pregnant people have ended pregnancies based on the results of genetic prenatal screening alone, without understanding the limitations of the screening tests and that the fetus may not have the genetic abnormality identified by the screening test.

The failure to acknowledge that only women can be pregnant is not the only problem with this statement. It implies that if the tests were correct—if the unborn child had the genetic abnormalities indicated by the tests—the decision to kill the unborn child would not be “inappropriate.” Although not explicitly stated, the subtext of this statement is that the FDA sees nothing wrong with eugenic abortions.

Sadly, other parts of the world have accepted eugenic abortions as well. For example, in multiple countries, nearly every unborn baby prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome is aborted, and in Western countries, around 95 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with a severe form of spina bifida are aborted.

The FDA is correct; many—including the authors of the statement—do not understand “the limitations of the screening tests.” A screening test may be able to tell parents if their child is at greater risk of a genetic abnormality. Further testing may be able to state more conclusively if a child is at risk of having a genetic abnormality. But no test can measure the worth of a child. No test can predict the love, joy, and suffering a child will endure. No test can predict the impact a child will have on the world.

Although the pro-life community should be grateful for the lives that will be saved as a result of the FDA’s warning, the fight against eugenics must continue. As long as abortion is legal in the United States, people with disabilities will be targeted in the womb. Every life has equal dignity and worth. We must pray for the day when our laws reflect that fact by completely protecting life.

Should Evangelicals Be “Single-Issue Voters”? A Proposal for “Pinnacle-Issue Voting”

by Owen Strachan

April 6, 2022

When it comes to politics in general and voting in particular, evangelicals have gotten very confused. In years past, conservative evangelicals emphasized what they called “single-issue voting” to counter abortion. Practically, this meant that abortion is so evil, so diabolical, such a slashing wound to a thriving society, that a candidate’s stance on abortion—this single issue—should determine whether one voted for them or not. In recent years, however, numerous self-professed evangelicals have argued strenuously and untiringly against “single-issue voting.” Their contention: evangelicals should not vote by just one ethical category but by what they call an “all of life” approach to politics.

This new rubric sounds good. What sane person would not want people to flourish in all of life? The framing of the new voting methodology has caught traction among some evangelicals, especially the younger crowd. At the same time, this framing has effectively backed many good-hearted evangelicals into a corner. Those who would continue to support “single-issue voting” now look stereotypically unthoughtful and uncritical. (Evangelicals often fear nothing more than the hot branding iron of a bad stereotype.)

In truth, what sounds so bright and beautiful—an “all of life” ethic—does not live up to its promise. Strangely, being an “all of life” voter has ended up meaning that a given person often votes left, quite straightforwardly. (“All of life,” in truth, dovetails nicely with the “neither left nor right” ideology—I’ve critiqued that here and here.) “All of life ethic” evangelicals have in many cases expressed support for pro-abortion candidates. They have stood against those who argue that America needs a coherent immigration policy beyond unbordered chaos and unlimited inflow.

Instead of speaking the truth in love to sinners who feel pulled to an “LGBTQ” identity, numerous “all of life” proponents have quieted their counter-cultural witness and failed to call sinners to repent. On governance issues and lockdowns, they have argued that love of neighbor—a glorious biblical imperative—means doing whatever authoritarian officials say we need to do, including closing churches down for the purpose of “public health.” (No such qualification is found in the Word of God, we note.) They have allowed the mainstreaming of wokeness and Marxism in classrooms across America, making invisible yet somehow omnipresent “white supremacy” our greatest problem.

Evangelical ethics and politics are a mess right now. As a result, countless evangelicals have no idea what to think about politics and elections anymore. In truth, they care greatly about their neighbor (per Matthew 22:34-39). They want good for them in all of life (as well they should). But they have been told, over and over again, that “single-issue voting” is a real evil. Similarly, they have heard that when you boil it down, conservatism basically reduces to the demand that women in desperate circumstances keep their babies. This is what being conservative gets you, we are told: opposition to abortion and nothing else. No further compassion; no further help. All justice, no mercy.

To a much greater degree than I can spell out here, this is all a pleasant fiction. In reality, evangelicals have been a tremendous historical source of philanthropy and common-good investment. We have our failings and flaws, definitely, in both the past and the present. But as a diverse group of born-again people who commonly love the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to his inerrant and sufficient Scripture, we have a strong track record of charity and neighbor-love. How many hospitals have we founded? How much education have we provided? How many trips do Christians take to serve needy people across the world? How much money do we give sacrificially to promote the gospel and the dignity of the human person? How much faithful witness have we offered in the public square?

Do not misunderstand: any good we have done owes to God, and God alone. Yet historically, it is simply untrue that evangelical public-square activity reduces neatly and exclusively to one action item alone. We have been concerned with a holistic ethic for decades, even centuries. (See this book, for example, and also this one.) What we could call “biblical conservatism”—a political ethic that derives squarely from special revelation—is not the problem; biblical conservatism is the solution.

Given this reality, I suggest a modest proposal: perhaps we should not use the phrase “single-issue voting.” I honor much of the work behind this phrase, please note. But going forward, to avoid an unfair and untrue trap, we might adopt a phrase like “pinnacle-issue ethics” to describe our approach. (I could have proposed “pyramid-issue voting,” but that might sound like I wish to sell you muscle-growth supplements.) With this framing, “pinnacle-issue ethics” and “pinnacle-issue voting,” we confess quite simply this: abortion is a curse, a living curse unto death, upon us. Yet it is not isolated from a serious body of principles and convictions. Instead, abortion represents what people commonly do when they comprehensively turn from the Lord. When you abandon God, you sacrifice your children.

Pinnacle-issue voting” is truly and rightly “all of life voting.” Christians who push back against the darkness in public, like John the Baptist before his beheading, bring an entire ethic to the public square (Matthew 14:1-12). This ethic does not owe to a Bible-free “natural law”; this ethic owes squarely to divine revelation. “Pinnacle-issue voting” leads Christians to see that those who support the culture of death almost certainly support the erosion of liberty and the common good in many other areas as well. Abortion is not an isolated issue, we thus understand; abortion is a tell. It reveals a tremendous amount about where a person or a party stands. It shows that a given political philosophy, for any number of reasons, has become deeply anti-human.

This little article is not about advocating for a certain candidate or group. It is in truth about putting biblical ethics into practice. This means, with great seriousness of purpose, that we must never abandon a focus on abortion. To put this more humanely still, we must never abandon the unborn. They cannot speak for themselves, after all. Only we can. Let us do just that. As “pinnacle-issue voters,” let us give our great God much glory as we stand for truth, speak in love, and act in courage. Let us do justice and love mercy, no matter what slogans and stereotypes come our way in response (Micah 6:8). May we not fear the hot brand of those who would malign us. Worldly opposition, after all, is nothing; God’s truth is everything.

Senate Confirms Abortion Extremist Shalanda Young

by Dan Hart

March 16, 2022

With a disappointing vote of 61-36, the Senate confirmed pro-abortion extremist Shalanda Young as the director of the Office of Management and Budget this past Tuesday.

As we have previously pointed out, the issue with Young isn’t merely that she is “pro-choice,” as is virtually every liberal Democrat. The problem with Young is that she is in favor of forcing every American to fund abortion with their tax dollars and also sees no issue with forcing all health care workers to participate in carrying out abortions, even if they have religious or moral objections.

For Young, repealing the Hyde Amendment—which prohibits taxpayer funding from paying for abortion in Medicaid—is an issue of “racial justice.” Her claim that prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion disproportionately affects women of color is indeed true, but it doesn’t convey what she thinks it does. As the latest CDC data shows, black women are four times more likely to get an abortion than white women—undoubtedly because black women are targeted by the abortion industry that locates the majority of their facilities in minority neighborhoods. Under Hyde, black babies are much more likely to be protected from a taxpayer-fueled abortion regime.

Young is on the record as being opposed to both the Hyde Amendment and the Weldon Amendment, which are both historically bipartisan measures meant to prevent tax dollars from funding abortion and to protect the conscience rights of pro-life Americans.

The confirmation of Young is the latest example of President Biden’s pattern of filling his administration not just with pro-choice appointees, but with individuals who actively advocate for leaving no room for Americans to have differing views on the most heated and contentious moral and political issue of our time.

Moving forward, FRC will continue to closely track the individuals that the Biden administration nominates and will alert the public to encourage them to contact their senators and congressmen and voice their concerns about far-left extremist nominees. Let us pray that in the future, the Biden administration will avoid choosing divisive pro-abortion activists, especially those whose views leave no room for pro-life Americans to live out their lives in the public square.

**For more information on our work tracking the Biden administration’s anti-family actions and nominees, see: frcaction.org/biden

Congressional Leadership Hijacks Ukraine Aid to Push Progressive Agenda

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

March 9, 2022

Russia’s assault on Ukraine is saturating the news, airwaves, and the public’s focus. It’s understandable that people want to help, and are helping, provide relief and aid to Ukraine. It’s also sensible for Congress to want to help. It’s for this reason (the political pressure to provide relief) that Democratic leadership in Congress wants to combine aid to Ukraine with their domestic social policy preferences in one giant stew of government spending called “the omnibus.”

There are reasons to resist simply going along with this bill.

For one, the omnibus bill contains a problematic reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Congress passed VAWA in 1994 to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and increase the availability of victims’ services. These are admirable aims. But when VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013, language was added (and is in the current reauthorization text) that mandates harmful gender identity ideology, maintains Planned Parenthood’s ability to obtain VAWA grants, selectively applies grant money, and could open the door to funding abortion more directly. You’ve probably heard about biological men competing in women’s sporting events on the basis of “gender identity” and how that is negatively impacting woman athletes. Under the VAWA reauthorization, battered and vulnerable women would face another threat of the same type—that of biological men who identify as women entering private spaces in women’s shelters.

The omnibus bill also turns a program designed to help women succeed financially around the globe into a “Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund.” This new program, backed by previous commitments by the Biden administration to promote gender ideology around the world, will open the door wide for the administration to push a harmful ideology in places like Eastern Europe at a time when security should be the focus. This program will also pave the way for the international abortion industry to continue erroneously promoting abortion as necessary for women’s economic empowerment.

Providing funds to Ukraine is a sensible and laudable goal, and we understand that our government also needs to be funded. However, there is a simple solution: peel off Ukraine (as the House appears to be doing) from other funding. And to completely fix the problem, cut all the substantive policy changes (like VAWA) that have been tacked on to what is supposed to be a spending bill. The current text is 2,741 pages long and has so many sections that it runs through the entire alphabet once and has to start over.

Streamlining the text (and process) along these lines will, in theory, prevent what should be a bipartisan appropriations process from turning into a fight for a partisan wish list.

Congressional Democrats Trying to Cram Activist Bill into Spending Package

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

March 8, 2022

While Ukraine burns, Democrats in Congress are busy looking for partisan opportunities, like trying to cram the radical Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization into the text of the Omnibus spending package currently under negotiation.

We all are familiar with the fallout of biological men competing in women’s sports on the basis of “gender identity.” Yet, battered and vulnerable women face another threat from the same ideological source—that of biological men who identify as women entering private spaces in women’s shelters.

As we have observed:

Congress passed VAWA in 1994 to improve the criminal justice response to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and increase the availability of victims’ services. These are admirable aims, but unfortunately, when VAWA was last reauthorized in 2013, language was added that prevented it from achieving these important goals. The current reauthorization text of S. 3623 continues and exacerbates these problems by mandating harmful gender identity ideology, maintaining Planned Parenthood’s ability to obtain VAWA grants, cordoning off certain grant funds to be used for only limited purposes and limited pools of victims, and now possibly opening the door to fund abortion more directly. In short, S. 3623 would harm the very women VAWA should be protecting.

This bill is bad enough and should be opposed on its own terms. To try to rush it into last-minute spending negotiations is unconscionable.

Praying for a Progressive President

by Joshua Arnold

February 15, 2022

Recently, President Joe Biden signed off on a successful mission in the ongoing fight against the ISIS terrorist organization, taking out ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. According to U.S. intelligence, al-Qurayshi “helped drive and justify the abduction, slaughter, and trafficking of the Yazidi religious minority in northwest Iraq and also led some of the group’s global terrorist operations.” FRC’s Executive Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin explained, “this was a guy that replaced Baghdadi as the head of ISIS.”

[Biden] deserves a lot of credit for this,” Boykin added. “It was a good decision. This was a good kill.” FRC President Tony Perkins agreed. “I commend the president for taking that action to stop this ISIS leader who had been linked to several terrorist activities in recent months that killed civilians and others.” Family Research Council often criticizes President Biden’s pro-abortion agenda, his promotion of LGBT ideology, and many other policies we believe promote what is morally objectionable. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). But in authorizing this military raid, President Biden did well.

While we often disagree with President Biden’s progressive priorities, we must remember that God commands Christians to honor their rulers (Romans 13:7, 1 Peter 2:17), and even to pray for them. The clearest biblical text on this is 1 Timothy 2:1-4, which reads:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

These verses contain three reasons to pray for our rulers. First, it pleases God. This should be the aim of every Christian. If we don’t delight to do what pleases him, it calls into question whether we really love him. Second, that they might be saved. Many rulers are not Christians—both in Paul’s day and in ours. They need Jesus’ righteousness to cover their sins and save them from the wrath of God just like every other person. Third, for the sake of our own hearts, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” We are called not to anger and bitterness and outrage, but “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). That’s only possible if you “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

There is another, less discussed reason to pray for our rulers, which Paul does not address in 1 Timothy 2, but which the recent American military strike illustrates perfectly. That is, that when a nation’s rulers govern well, everyone benefits, including God’s people. For example, “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). How does this prompt us to pray for rulers? To answer that question, we have to understand Jeremiah 29.

The prophet Jeremiah sent a letter to the exiles in Babylon to counter false prophets who were promising the people a quick deliverance and return to Canaan. Jeremiah explained to the exiles that their exile would continue for 70 years before God would bring them back. Therefore, he sets forth three ways they should conduct themselves:

  • In verse 5 he says, “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.” That is, work! Don’t be idle. Improve your property by your own labor.
  • In verse 6 he says, “Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” That is, don’t neglect the family. Enduring this exile and returning from it is a multi-generational project. Build relationships with your neighbors and plant deep roots.
  • And in verse 7 he says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:7). The Jewish exiles are commanded to seek the welfare of Babylon, their enemy and captor. Seeking the welfare of the enemy of God’s people would seem like rebellion against God if God himself had not commanded it. But God through Jeremiah explains that, during their exile, Babylon was their new home. Thus, their welfare was tied to its welfare.

How, then, could Jewish exiles with no political power (except for a few uniquely gifted persons like Daniel) seek the welfare of Babylon? God explains; they seek its welfare by praying to the Lord on its behalf. And what is praying for a nation if not also praying for its rulers? Their own welfare was tied to their prayers for rulers of Babylon.

How does this apply to us today? First, let’s remember that not everything in the Old Testament applies to new covenant believers in the same way that it did to Israelites under the old covenant, and living in the unique, God-ruled theocracy of ancient Israel. Next, let’s note that the letter in Jeremiah 29 is written not to Jews in Canaan, but to Jews in exile in Babylon. New covenant believers are exiles (1 Peter 1:1), whose “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Like the recipients of Jeremiah’s letter, we are living in a place that is not our home, but we are eagerly looking forward to the day when we will finally get to go home at last. Our situation is quite similar to that of the Jewish exiles in Babylon.

Of course, Christians have an additional mission. Israel under the old covenant was tasked with remaining a holy people, distinct from the surrounding nations. Christians are tasked with the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.

As we wait for Jesus to return, and as we make disciples, we should also work, raise families, and seek the welfare of our nation. And that includes praying for our nation’s leaders, whether we like their policies or not. We can pray that they would rule wisely and justly and for the good of all. We can pray that they would pursue policies that allow the gospel to flourish, and that glorify God. We can pray that God would reveal himself to them that they might be saved.

Progressive “Deals” Are Usually Highways Going Nowhere Quickly

by Joshua Arnold

February 7, 2022

Conservatives in Congress keep falling for the same old trick. The other side will reach across the aisle and promise to have a sincere desire for bipartisan engagement on commonsense problem-solving for the good of the American people. Conservatives will eventually take their olive branch and then, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes enthusiastically, climb on board a bus that only turns Left.

Infrastructure” Bill

The most recent example is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law on November 15 after 19 Republican senators and 13 Republican representatives voted with Democrats to pass it through both chambers (six House Democrats voted “no”). It was framed as a package to fund America’s infrastructure, an issue with bipartisan support that shouldn’t be controversial. This framing helped the bill pass a narrowly-divided Congress because everyone benefits from improved infrastructure.

But not so fast, warned The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board. A memo from Stephanie Pollack, deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), laid out guidelines for distributing the funds that are almost as partisan as they are tedious. The memo states:

This Policy prioritizes projects that move more people and freight by modernizing and increasing the operation efficiency of existing roads and highways over projects that expand the general purpose capacity of roads and highways. Consistent with this Policy, FHWA will implement policies and undertake actions to encourage—and where permitted by law, require—recipients of Federal highway funding to select projects that improve the condition and safety of existing transportation infrastructure within the right-of-way before advancing projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles. (emphasis added)

The main idea this stilted, bureaucratic jargon fails to conceal is this: some projects will be prioritized over others.

On the list of winners are projects that “moderniz[e]” or “increase[e] the operation efficiency,” which is code for mass transit, or as the memo states elsewhere, “new and emerging technologies like electric vehicle charging stations.” On the list of losers are “projects that add new general purpose travel lanes serving single occupancy vehicles,” which the WSJ editors helpfully summarized: “She means cars.” In fact, before the FHWA will dispense roadway funds to help widen that over-traveled artery you take to work each day, it will “encourage—and where permitted by law, require” your state or local government to do something like add bus stops or run light rail down the median.

Thus, the “highway” funds (“only $110 billion out of $1.2 Trillion”) from the ostensibly-bipartisan infrastructure bill will benefit urban centers, where such projects are viable, over rural areas, where cars are a necessity. Part of the rationale (stated clearly in the memo) is hostility toward fossil fuels, a luxury opinion only rich urbanites can afford to indulge. But another (unstated) part of the rationale could be the growing rural-urban, red-blue political divide; the progressives who control and staff executive agencies don’t mind rewarding their allies and punishing their opponents. The WSJ editors conclude, “don’t be surprised when federal agencies continue to steer ‘bipartisan’ infrastructure funds toward progressive priorities.”

COVID-19 Relief” Bill

Of course, very few Americans care about “highways”—at most, they will care about a highway, the one they use most often. However, the case offers a particularly striking example of standard progressive tactics.

The other major bill passed into law during President Biden’s first year in office was the American Rescue Plan Act, which also passed with bipartisan support because it was framed as a COVID-19 relief measure, although much of the $1.9 trillion spent had nothing to do with coronavirus. That bill appropriated over $450 billion without making clear that these funds cannot be used to pay for abortions or go to abortion businesses. This is on top of the over $80 million that Planned Parenthood already received from the Paycheck Protection Program through previous COVID-19 relief bills. This supposedly non-controversial, bipartisan, must-pass bill may have been the largest abortion bill Congress has passed in a decade.

Women in the Draft

Last year, Democrats in Congress tried the same trick with the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA funds our military every year, so Republicans are typically in favor of it. But in 2021, gender ideologues inserted a provision that would require women to register for the Selective Service. At the last moment, a handful of Republicans made removing that provision their top priority, but it nearly became the law of the land.

Obamacare

Progressives have been using this tactic for a long time. For example, when Congress was considering the Affordable Care Act in 2011, pro-life Democrats went along with their party’s overhaul of the health care system based on the guarantee that the bill would not fund abortions, and President Obama signed an executive order to that effect. Yet, Obamacare continues to subsidize abortions through health insurance plans.

Conclusion: Don’t Give in to Fake Compromise

For conservatives in Washington, bipartisanship is often a poorly-concealed snare. Bipartisanship requires shared values, and, generally speaking, the modern progressive Left isn’t interested in compromise, consensus, or finding common ground. The progressive Left is aggressively seeking power at any cost. They want to radically transform America. And to impose unpopular ideas on a “government of the people,” they have to lie about their intentions.

Sometimes people on the Right preemptively surrender the battlefield in search of peace. For example, for years, progressives have endorsed the far-Left Equality Act, which would establish special privileges for sexual orientation and gender identity and expand abortion access in federal law over and above other federally guaranteed rights such as religious freedom, women’s rights, and parental rights. Some Republicans are so alarmed by the implications of this bill that they have proposed their own, “compromise” version, titled Fairness for All. Fairness for All is essentially just the Equality Act with insufficient religious carve-outs. But this so-called “compromise” only features concessions from one side. Progressives have dug their heels in so firmly on the issue that they aren’t even pretending to care about the proposal by these few Republicans. Both the Equality Act and Fairness for All would still radically reorient American law around LGBT identity categories. If that happens, I wouldn’t put my money on the survival of religious exemptions.

The problem with compromise in today’s political climate is that progressives don’t want compromise. When they offer a “compromise,” it’s almost always in bad faith. Sometimes compromise becomes a white whale, which some Republicans chase, heedless of prudence or the reality of the situation. And when they finally get their bearings, they realize they’re miles down a highway going nowhere quickly.

The Filibuster: Guardian of the Republic

by Worth Loving

January 31, 2022

Many items on President Joe Biden’s agenda have already passed the U.S. House of Representatives only to be dead on arrival in the Senate. This is due to the filibuster, a Senate rule that requires 60 votes to move any piece of legislation. Recently, many Senate Democrats have been pushing to eliminate the filibuster in the hopes that some of Biden’s more partisan agenda items will finally reach his desk. But because two moderate Democratic senators, Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have refused to go along with their party’s prevailing narrative, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) cannot get the 50 votes he needs to change the Senate rules and do away with the filibuster.

What follows is a brief explanation of what the filibuster is and why it is so important.

Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution gives the House and Senate the broad authority to “determine the rules of its proceedings.” This allows the House and Senate to determine how bills will be voted on, how committees will be assigned, how long a bill may be debated, and much more. Although the House does not allow for unlimited debate on a bill, the Senate does through a tactic known as the filibuster.

In its early days, the filibuster manifested itself through long speeches from senators on the floor. As long as a senator could stand and talk, voting on a bill or nomination would be delayed. The filibuster was used in the very first session of the U.S. Senate. Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay wrote that the “design of the Virginians was to talk away the time, so that we could not get the bill passed.”

It wasn’t until 1917, at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, that the Senate adopted a formal process for a majority to end debate and force a vote, a concept known as cloture. Senate Rule 22 required a two-thirds majority to invoke cloture. In 1975, the threshold was lowered to three-fifths (i.e., 60 votes of 100).

Fortunately, the legislative filibuster has been preserved so that a simple majority cannot ram through legislation from the House. Last week, thanks to the efforts of Senators Manchin and Sinema bucking their party leadership, the filibuster lived to see another day. But you can count on Democratic leadership to continue berating these senators with the hopes of breaking their resolve so they can change the rules and push their agenda through the Senate with the barest of majorities.

America has a bicameral (i.e., two-chambered) legislature in order to protect two valid, competing interests. The House allocates representation based on population in order to reflect the will of the majority, while the Senate gives each of the states equal representation so that larger, more populated states would not have complete control of the legislative process.

The U.S. Senate is a fundamentally different body than when it was created in 1789. In a conversation with Thomas Jefferson, George Washington reportedly said that the Senate was intended to “cool” legislation from the House of Representatives, just as a saucer cools hot tea. The Founders realized that the directly-elected House of Representatives would be subject to sudden changes from the will of the people every two years. Therefore, they set up the Senate differently in order to “cool” those passions. Senators were originally selected by state legislatures for six-year terms with the intent that they would thoughtfully deliberate legislation to come up with something mutually beneficial to all the states rather than constantly focusing on reelection. That process lasted for over 120 years until 1913, when the ratification of the 17th Amendment provided for the direct election of senators. With the 17th Amendment, the U.S. Senate was fundamentally changed and began to resemble the House of Representatives more and more. Yet the filibuster remained as one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Senate.

The Senate has long been described as the world’s greatest deliberative body. The Founding Fathers never intended legislation and nominations to be rushed through. Rather, they envisioned a body of thoughtful and deliberate debate, a sometimes long and arduous process that would prove frustrating for both political parties but nonetheless a process that would eventually produce a mutually beneficial result for the entire country. It might be tempting for a majority party to eliminate the filibuster for short-term political gain, but to do so would remove one of the last tools that makes the Senate different from the House.

In 1831, a young French aristocrat named Alexis de Tocqueville took a nine-month trip to the United States to discover what made America unique from other nations. He compiled his observations in his book Democracy in America. In it, de Tocqueville spoke highly of the American form of government and the national culture. However, he warned of what he called the “tyranny of the majority,” the inclination of whatever political party happens to be in control to push their will on the entire country. For 233 years, the U.S. Senate has mitigated the tyranny of the majority. And although the 17th Amendment significantly diluted the uniqueness of the Senate, it still remains distinct from the House, in part because the minority are given a voice through the filibuster.

In the current Senate, the legislative filibuster is the one thing preventing a radically different America. It is the one thing that will keep President Biden from signing key parts of his radical agenda. It will continue to block Democrats from passing the Equality Act, repealing the Hyde Amendment, and codifying Roe v. Wade. In short, it will stop Democrats from fundamentally transforming American government, which could then fundamentally transform America. If minority voices are to continue being heard and respected in the U.S. Senate, we must protect the filibuster at all costs.

Explainer: What Is Happening with Texas’ New Pro-Life Law?

by Katherine Beck Johnson

September 2, 2021

Roe v. Wade resulted from a challenge to a pro-life Texas law. Forty-eight years later, Texas is once again protecting life—but this time, so far, the U.S. Supreme Court has let those protections stand. Texas recently passed a law (known as Senate Bill 8) that restricts abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the unborn child. This usually occurs around six weeks. It’s a strong law that protects the most vulnerable. Texas passed the law in the spring, and Governor Abbott signed it in May, days after the U.S. Supreme Court granted cert in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.

Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction that would prevent the Texas law from going into effect. In past abortion cases, such as June Medical v. Russo (June Medical v. Gee at the time), the Court has stepped in before the pro-life bill took effect and blocked it. Texas had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31, to respond to Planned Parenthood’s emergency injunction request. Texas responded by saying that Planned Parenthood had no standing to bring the case. That is, they had no right to sue. Many stayed up until midnight on the evening of August 31 to see if the bill would go into effect or whether it would be blocked before it was set to become law on September 1. The Court did not issue any ruling as of midnight, so Texas has officially become the first state to successfully outlaw abortion past six weeks.

What’s different about the Texas law? It is enforced differently than most pro-life laws. Usually, if someone is challenging a state law, the state officials are the defendants. The Texas law actually bars state actors from enforcing it and instead allows private citizens to sue anyone who carries out an abortion procedure or anyone who “aids or abets” one. In theory, an abortionist will violate this law and then be sued by a private citizen. Women cannot be sued for attempting to obtain an abortion. But abortionists, clinic workers, and people who offer to pay for an abortion are just a few examples of parties who could be held legally liable for aiding an abortion.

As of right now, abortion is illegal in Texas after six weeks—for the first time since Roe v. Wade. Indeed, this is the first time in 48 years that the unborn have been protected anywhere in America starting at six weeks. This is reason for great hope and reminds us that one day, elective abortion could be illegal in America. The U.S. Supreme Court is still expected to give an answer on this law, so we will stay tuned to how they rule. But for now, lives are being saved in Texas. Abortion appointments scheduled for today are being canceled, and there will be a larger need for the pro-life community in Texas to help even more women who find themselves in unplanned pregnancies.

This is a beautiful and victorious moment in our country. We celebrate the lives saved thanks to the courage and boldness of the Lone Star State.

UPDATE: In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Texas law can remain in effect. Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Kavanaugh have allowed the Texas law to remain enforceable, while Justices Roberts, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor would have stayed the law. The majority did not rule on the substance of the law but rather sided with what Texas had argued: it’s unclear whether the named defendants can or will seek to enforce the Texas statute. For example, Planned Parenthood named a pro-life advocate as a defendant because they believe he is likely to enforce the statute. The Court rightly rejected this argument. The minority would have blocked the law while litigation took place below. Thankfully, they fell one vote short of a majority.

This means that while litigation continues regarding the Texas heartbeat ban on the merits, Texas will remain essentially abortion-free. A brilliant litigation strategy has led to many abortion appointments being canceled and lives saved. It’s a beautiful opportunity to show the country how valuing and supporting life should become the norm in every state. The unborn in Texas live another day, and that is a historic and beautiful victory.

Cuomo’s Disgrace Should Not Surprise Anyone

by Joy Zavalick

August 31, 2021

The disgraced former governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, was deftly swept out of the forefront of the news last week when his former lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, was sworn in as the state’s 57th governor. With the media busy celebrating the establishment of the state’s first female governor, the troubling administration of the past 10 years has been allowed to fade into the shadows.

However, it is important to recognize the shameful legacy Cuomo leaves behind him. The sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo and his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic are only the latest indications of a pattern of disregard for the wellbeing of women and the dignity of human life throughout his decade as governor.

For example, a defining moment of Cuomo’s political career occurred in 2019 when he championed the Reproductive Health Act, which codified the default abortion standards of Roe v. Wade in New York. This law provided a route for women to receive late term abortions by removing restrictions on abortions after 24 weeks. This law also effectively allows a woman to access abortion up until the point of birth, so long as she claims her pregnancy poses a risk to her life or health. Because the law failed to clearly define what standards qualified as a threat to the mother’s health, women in New York can use any degree of mental or emotional stress to obtain a late-term abortion.

The law Cuomo signed also repealed the section of the New York public health code that provided protections for infants born alive after a failed abortion attempt. In combination with the expansion of opportunities for women to receive traumatizing late-term abortions, it is clear that the Reproductive Health Act undermines the human dignity of unborn children, abortion survivors, and mothers.

This law is particularly relevant as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center, which directly challenges Roe v. Wade by considering whether states can create pre-viability restrictions on abortion. Because the Reproductive Health Act codified abortion rights in the state, New Yorkers would maintain access to abortion even if the Court overturned Roe.

To celebrate the ghoulish late-term abortion law’s passage, Cuomo ordered the One World Trade Center to be lit up pink. This revelry in unrestricted access to abortion contradicted what Cuomo claimed to be his personal morality, as he stated, “I have my own Catholic beliefs, how I live my life […] That is my business as a Catholic. I don’t govern as a Catholic.”

Cuomo further demonstrated his lack of respect for human life in 2020 when he placed COVID-positive patients in New York nursing homes, jeopardizing the lives of elderly residents who were already at increased risk of contracting the virus. His team has since attempted to cover up the number of elderly people who died as a result of this careless move. In her first week as governor, Hochul has already released an updated COVID mortality statistic, showing an additional 12,000 deaths that Cuomo kept hidden from the public as recently as last Monday. Cuomo proved that he has no regard for the dignity of the human person from the beginning to the end of life; it is no surprise, then, to discover his harassment of those at the stages in between as well.

Galatians 6:7 (ESV) says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Former Governor Cuomo is reaping the consequences for his consistently unethical behavior throughout his tenure in office. The signs have always been there—he has been sowing his disgrace before the eyes of the nation the whole time. When politicians show their true colors in their policy decisions, we ought not to be shocked when their unethical and immoral behavior in private is revealed.

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