Category archives: Health Care

Biden’s WHO Debacle Highlights Need for More Transparency

by Joshua Arnold

May 26, 2022

Before World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was re-elected without opposition this week at the World Health Assembly, House Freedom Caucus members took the Biden administration to task for not proposing an alternative candidate. What’s worse, as they wrote in their letter, the Biden team is “now attempting to hand him more control.” Tedros first attained the office after heavy lobbying by the Chinese Communist Party, and his ties to China remained strong through the COVID pandemic. The Biden administration has proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly’s international health regulations which would strengthen the Director General’s unilateral authority. So, House Freedom Caucus members demanded the Biden administration “provide the American people with total transparency and respect for our nation’s sovereignty. Under no circumstances should you cede our government’s operational control in a public health emergency to an international body.”

The Biden administration’s problems with transparency stretch beyond their proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly to hamstring American sovereignty on public health affairs; they also can’t seem to tell the whole truth on how the COVID pandemic got started to begin with. Once again, China proves a major player.

Two professors at Columbia University—hardly voices of the fringe right—wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal, “no independent and transparent scientific scrutiny to date of the full scope of the U.S.-based evidence” has been performed on the origin of COVID-19. Professors Neil Harrison and Jeffrey Sachs explained, “the relevant U.S.-based evidence would include the following information: laboratory notebooks, virus databases, electronic media (emails, other communications), biological samples, viral sequences … and interviews … together with a full record of U.S. agency involvement in funding the research on SARS-like viruses.” They insist the U.S. intelligence community either has not made their investigation into these materials transparent or has simply “fallen far short of conducting a comprehensive investigation.” Basically, they expect the rest of us to take their word for it, something Americans object to strongly.

Harrison and Sachs lay out the mounds of evidence suggesting someone in the U.S. should have a notion about what happened in Wuhan. The “active and highly collaborative U.S.-China scientific research program” was “funded by the U.S. government,” they wrote, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Did no American officials consider the government could have been bankrolling the research of a Chinese bioweapons program? Other U.S. agents participating include EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), the Universities of North Carolina and of California at Davis, the NIH, and the USAID. These and “other research partners have failed to disclose their activities,” they complained. “The precise nature of the experiments that were conducted … remains unknown.”

Blanket denials from the NIH are no longer good enough,” Harrison and Sachs continued. “A steady trickle of disquieting information has cast a darkening cloud over the agency.” The NIH “resisted the release of important evidence” and “continued to redact materials released under FOIA [the Freedom of Information Act], including a remarkable 290-page redaction in a recent FOIA release.” Yet FOIA requests and leaked documents have slowly but steadily revealed an unflattering picture, which prompts people to ask, what else are they trying to hide?

Among the most suspicious facts uncovered so far, research proposals “make clear that the EHA-WIV [Wuhan Institute of Virology]-UNC collaboration was involved in the collection of a large number of so-far undocumented SARS-like viruses [of the same type as COVID] and was engaged in their manipulation.” The insertion of a gene sequence found in COVID, but not other known viruses of the same type, “was a specific goal of work proposed by the EHA-WIV-UNC partnership within a 2018 grant proposal.” That proposal was not funded by the agency from whom it was requested, “but we do not know whether some of the proposed work was subsequently carried out in 2018 or 2019, perhaps using another source of funding.” Harrison and Sachs said there was a “very low possibility” of such a gene sequence occurring naturally. Less scientifically, we know that high-level employees like Dr. Anthony Fauci seemed suspiciously eager to direct public scrutiny away from their publicly funded projects in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

There’s no doubt that greater transparency on the part of Chinese authorities would be enormously helpful,” the paper argued, but that doesn’t get the U.S. government completely off the hook. “We call on U.S. government scientific agencies, most notably the NIH, to support a full, independent, and transparent investigation of the origins of SARS-CoV-2.” From NIH to WHO, the Biden administration could use more transparency all around. If they would start tackling real problems instead of always aiming at the public relations problem, perhaps they could win back the trust of the American people.

Pensacola Abortion Business Closed Following Report of Three Women Hospitalized

by Deborah Laker

May 25, 2022

Florida health officials issued an emergency order last Friday closing an abortion business in Pensacola after a report by Reprotection, a pro-life investigative organization. The group found that within the last nine months, three patients had been hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after their abortions. Extensive blood loss, a “big hole” in the uterine wall, and loss of pulse are just some of the horrors inflicted on patients that the report uncovered.

American Family Planning of Pensacola is the only operating abortion center on the Gulf Coast between New Orleans and Tallahassee. But as of May 20, Florida’s Agency on Health Care Administration (AHCA) suspended the facility’s license and issued an immediate closure until an administrative hearing is held in the state capital. This news comes a month after Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a new law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks, effective on July 1.

Missy Martinez-Stone, CEO of Reprotection, who led the investigation into the abortion business said, “The standard of care at American Family Planning of Pensacola was non-existent, and we are elated that the clinic has been shut down before more women are seriously harmed.”

The report revealed that in November 2021, one patient’s abortion procedure was so badly botched that it later “required the repair of uterine perforation, a colon resection, a colostomy, a sigmoidectomy, and a cystoscopy.” The clinic failed to report these complications in accordance with Florida’s laws.

In March 2022, another patient who had a second-trimester abortion at 20 weeks experienced severe injuries. During the laminaria procedure to open the cervix she began to bleed excessively. The patient was given Pitocin and Methergine but there are no records of her vitals being monitored as required by law. When she was finally transferred to the ER, physicians discovered she had no pulse and there were two “big holes” on the left and right walls of the uterus. The patient was forced to undergo a total hysterectomy since doctors were unable to save any of her reproductive organs.

The third incident took place earlier this month with another patient who was 19 weeks pregnant. When she arrived at the abortion facility, she was given drugs and told to wait in the car with her husband. The patient’s vitals were not monitored. When she began to bleed excessively because of a uterine rupture and cervical lacerations, the clinic reportedly told her spouse to take her to a hospital an hour away in Mobile, Alabama rather than rushing to a hospital in Pensacola. According to the order, once they arrived at the hospital, she had “undetectable blood pressure” and her blood oxygen level was at 80%. Physicians were able to resuscitate her and perform a mass blood transfusion to save her life.

The abortionist who carried out the procedures on the last two patients told AHCA officials that he was “unfamiliar” with emergency medical procedures and sought guidance from the office manager, who had no medical or clinical licenses.

Our investigation into this specific abortion clinic has been going on for two years and we have utilized every avenue possible to work to protect the health and safety of women from dangerous abortion clinics like this one,” said Martinez-Stone. “While we don’t know why AHCA did not shut them down earlier, we are grateful the state of Florida has taken decisive action to protect women from dangerous abortion clinics who seek profit over safety.”

Biden-Backed WHO’s Latest Power Grab Fails

by Joshua Arnold

May 24, 2022

The Biden administration’s attempt to usurp Congress’s public health authority by rewriting international law may have just encountered an untimely grave. The Biden administration submitted a number of amendments for consideration at the World Health Assembly which would bolster the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General’s pandemic authority without the consent of member states. The World Health Assembly is the WHO’s decision-making body and is meeting in Geneva this week, but “the most interesting thing that happened did not happen at the assembly itself,” said Michael Alexander, co-chair of the Law and Activism Committee of the World Council for Health.

A first-year law student in the U.K.” objected to the amendments, Alexander explained on “Washington Watch.” He “asked the courts to review these amendments, and the court rejected him summarily. So he appealed. And then he got a letter from the government that said 12 of 13 international health regulation amendments have been taken off the table and will not be addressed at this Assembly, at least at this time.”

It’s unclear how or why the amendments were tabled. It seems they were considered by a working group comprised of member states, but the group is “not transparent,” Alexander said. “We don’t know who’s on it and who’s saying what,” or even how many nations are members—although there are rumors that Brazil and Russia opposed the amendments.

It’s also unclear whether their tabling was permanent. We also “don’t know how the approval process works. … The 12 amendments are off the table right now,” Alexander continued, but “maybe … they’ll come back on in a day or two, and they’ll be approved in some way that is not transparent to us. So we have good news for the moment, [but] we have to keep an eye on what’s happening there.”

What is clear is that the Biden administration is unable to advance its public health agenda without these amendments. “The United States clearly didn’t play a role” in tabling the amendments, Alexander said.

But what is the Biden administration’s agenda at the World Health Assembly? They would add duties to states like, “The State Party shall accept or reject such an offer of assistance within 48 hours and, in the case of rejection of such an offer, shall provide to WHO its rationale for the rejection, which WHO shall share with other States Parties.”

They propose changing “State Party within whose territory the public health emergency of international concern has occurred” to “relevant State Parties,” which is undefined. They propose to delete language such as “taking into account the views of the State Party concerned” and “WHO shall consult with and attempt to obtain verification from the State Party in whose territory” the public health emergency occurred.

The changes largely tend either to decrease the sovereignty of a state, increase the rights of other states to meddle in its affairs, and increase the power of WHO officials. In a letter to President Biden, Senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) complained the amendments would “grant unilateral authority to declare public health emergencies of international or regional concern to the WHO’s Director General and Regional Directors, respectively. This would be an alarming transfer of U.S. sovereignty to an unelected U.N. bureaucrat.” Leftist outfits like Snopes and The Washington Post have taken great pains to dispel “conspiracy theories” about this year’s World Health Assembly, which “is usually considered a dry, technocratic event,” but they achieve nothing more than missing the main point. The very trouble they take to defend the Biden administration’s amendments demonstrate something more is going on.

The concluding notes of the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t satisfy the Biden administration. Their efforts to chase down increasingly unrealistic objectives with increasingly onerous mandates ended with the virus mostly burning itself out, even while the administration was still arrayed on the losing side of multiple legal battles. Pharmaceutical companies, public health agencies, and administration officials all suffered precipitous drops in credibility. It seems that the administration has finally admitted to itself what most of the country already knew—the executive branch lacks the power to unilaterally impose its desired draconian response to a public health emergency under current U.S. law.

But instead of concluding that extreme public health responses were out of bounds, the administration has tried to steal a run on the American people. The Biden administration’s proposed amendments to the World Health Assembly’s international health regulations seem calculated to force a nation’s hand on public health matters, if a global cadre can agree on the measures they should take. If the amendments were ratified, an administration could defend extreme measures during the next pandemic by protesting that they simply had to take certain actions because of international consensus.

As problematic as such surrender of sovereignty would be under any circumstances, it is even more concerning given the WHO’s pathetic response to COVID-19. “This is the same organization that parroted the narrative from the Chinese Communist Party throughout the COVID pandemic,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. First they said, “it’s not human-to-human transmission. And then they sat on [data] for so long. And they failed really at every turn, even so much that the previous administration withdrew the United States from the World Health Organization.” Alexander agreed that the WHO was “a captured organization,” dependent on giant pharmaceutical companies and rich donors. “This is not an independent, neutral bureaucratic organization, … not an organization that is looking to the common good of its members.”

In his opening address on Sunday, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asserted that the pandemic is “most certainly not over.” Alexander warned Ghebreyesus is “China’s man,” a former Marxist warlord in Ethiopia who obtained his position “with the lobbying of the Chinese.” Is that really who we want running public health here in America?

Minority Neighborhoods Need Maternity Wards, Not Crack Pipes

by Joy Zavalick

February 16, 2022

The Biden administration has authorized a new $30 million grant program directing federal funds to purchase “harm reduction” supplies for drug users. It specifically targets minorities, or “underserved communities” like minority neighborhoods. Biden has defended the program by challenging rumors that the “safe smoking kits” funded by the program will contain crack pipes, although other safe smoking programs across the country have indeed distributed smoking pipes. Regardless, the question remains as to why passing out needles and smoking kits to addicts is thought to be meeting the greatest needs of minority communities.

The Biden administration seems to have missed the even deeper needs of underserved minority communities: access to grocery stores, pharmacies, and perhaps most importantly, birth wards and quality medical care. Given that February is Black History Month, there seems to be no better time than the present to consider the disproportionate lack of resources that underserved minority communities face.

Take the nation’s capital, for example. Washington, D.C.’s local government is separated into eight wards roughly equivalent in population size. Although ward boundaries are largely determined by geography, the unfortunate reality is that the wards divide the city’s population by race and socioeconomic status.

The combined population of Wards 7 and 8, which are separated from the rest of the city by the Anacostia River, is over 160,000 people, 90 percent of whom are black. Despite having population sizes roughly equivalent to the other wards, Wards 7 and 8 have a combined total of only three grocery stores. In contrast, the other six wards have a combined total of 71 (an average of 11.8 per ward). Ward 8 has only seven pharmacies to service its 80,517 residents.

There is only one hospital that services Wards 7 and 8—United Medical Center, a poorly-rated hospital that is planning to cease operating entirely by 2023. Notably, there is no hospital with a birth ward east of the Anacostia River, meaning that mothers in Wards 7 and 8 must travel across the river in order to deliver their children. This fact is especially concerning considering that Ward 8 has the highest birth rate in the city. The mortality rate for black mothers in D.C. is 71 per 100,000 live births—50 points higher than the national average of 20.1, which is already the highest rate for any developed country.

A solution to the disproportionately high black maternal mortality rate should include expanded access to the medical care that mothers and babies need to thrive. However, the abortion industry insists that the solution that will empower the black community is advancing abortion, which only ends unborn black babies’ lives. In a recent commentary on Black History Month, Planned Parenthood stated, “When restrictions are placed on birth control and family planning, Black communities bear a disproportionate burden.” For Planned Parenthood, abortion constitutes family planning.

In reality, the black population has the disproportionate burden of being targeted for abortions. Almost 80 percent of surgical abortion facilities are within walking distance of minority neighborhoods. In 2019, black babies represented 38 percent of total U.S. abortions, even though black Americans only comprise 14 percent of the U.S. population. A New York City Health Department report found that between 2012 and 2016, there were 18,299 more black babies aborted than black babies born in the city. Abortion does not empower the black population—rather, it is slowly shrinking it.

The Biden administration’s funding of “safe smoking kits” represents another failure to meet underprivileged communities in their blatantly obvious areas of deepest need. Minority communities need grocery stores, pharmacies, and real health care—not smoking kits, syringes, and abortionists waiting to kill their children.

As the United States celebrates Black History Month, the nation should pause to reflect on the current state of the union for under-resourced minority communities. Despite the immense progress made in the past century, there remain areas in which the black community is neglected or continuously targeted for harm. Initiatives like “harm reduction” programs for drug users and blocking protections for the unborn are red herrings that distract attention from the disparities in resources needed to promote human flourishing.

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.

Australian Psychiatric Group Takes Important Step Towards Keeping Children Safe

by Jennifer Bauwens, Ph.D.

November 10, 2021

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) recently issued a new position statement on the treatment of gender dysphoria (GD). This announcement follows recent moves by several European countries to amend their offerings of physiologically damaging procedures on minors who experience distress over embracing their biological sex.

Although the RANZCP doesn’t go as far as to ban transgender procedures on minors, their statement does echo a few noteworthy points raised by proponents of policies aimed at protecting children from these physiologically damaging practices. The RANZCP position paper:

  1. Acknowledged there is a lack of quality empirical evidence in the scientific literature on interventions for GD. In particular, there is a dearth of long-term research that shows a positive effect of these procedures on mental health outcomes. (Click here for more information on the scientific method.)
  2. Referenced studies showing an elevated risk for poor mental health outcomes among trans-identifying youth, including depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. Considering this, the RANZCP recommend multiple treatment options and a comprehensive assessment of the patient.
  3. Stated that the comprehensive assessment should evaluate other mental health concerns and not GD alone. The evaluation should also include an exploration into the circumstances that gave rise to GD and an examination into the personal and familial background of the patient.
  4. Admonished psychiatrists to give evidence of a minors’ ability to give informed consent. Additionally, an assessment of the risks and benefits of various treatments for GD was emphasized. (Click here for more information on ethics.)

The RANZCP’s statement is one more small step towards recognizing the problematic state of mental health care for minors suffering from GD. By including an assessment of the family and ruling out the existence of mental health issues among caregivers, their position appropriately affirms previously held approaches to mental health care with minors. Additionally, the RANZCP endorses the profession’s commitment to providing evidence-based practices, exploring multiple treatment options and contributing factors to psychological distress, and ascertaining whether the minor can truly give consent to care.

As we continue our battle to keep America’s children safe, it is heartening to see other countries and professional groups recognizing the flagrant gaps in the scientific literature and reaffirming that treatment should be informed by evidence and not uniformly given to popular treatment protocols. A decade ago, this statement would’ve seemed irrelevant to most mental health professionals, but today, we see that we cannot take for granted good practice standards. For now, we are grateful for one more stride toward keeping our kids safe.

A full review of the RANZCP can be found here.

PRCs Alleviate the Stress of an Unplanned Pregnancy

by Joy Zavalick

November 8, 2021

The first week of November marked International Stress Awareness Week. Stress levels in the United States are at an all-time high. The American Psychological Association’s 2020 survey found that two out of every three adults (67 percent) experienced increased levels of stress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Undoubtedly, Americans are stressed and need resources to combat the sources of their anxiety.

Perhaps one of the most stressful events women commonly experience is an unplanned pregnancy. In 2018, 45 percent of the six million American pregnancies were unplanned or unintended. Roughly 40 percent of those unplanned pregnancies ended in abortion. Tragically, this means that only one out of every three unplanned pregnancies in the United States results in a child being born alive.

Thankfully, pregnancy resource centers (PRCs) exist for the sole purpose of supporting women needing assistance during their pregnancies. The approximately 3,000 PRCs spread across the nation seek to combat the stress and anxiety that women face as a result of an unplanned pregnancy.

The impact of PRCs is immense. In 2019, pro-life pregnancy centers provided $266 million in free services (such as counseling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and STI testing) and material resources (such as food and clothing) to women.

The need for PRCs has only been augmented by the enactment of pro-life laws, such as the Texas Heartbeat Act (SB 8) that prohibits elective abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected (around six weeks gestation). Since the law went into effect on September 1, PRCs in Texas have been inundated with women seeking their assistance and resources. Thankfully, the state has been well-equipped for years to meet the demand. According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, “Pro-life pregnancy centers provided nearly $33 million in total services, materials, and support at virtually no cost to Texas women and families in 2019 […].”

PRCs not only provide children the opportunity to be born, but they also improve the conditions in which children are born by seeking to minimize the stress that mothers face during pregnancy. According to a Columbia University study, one in three women (33 percent) experience psychological or physical stress during pregnancy. Women who experience stress during pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely, and their children are more likely to have slower central nervous system development.

For all of the benevolent services that PRCs offer, the pro-abortion movement is nevertheless intent on eradicating all alternatives to abortion businesses for women seeking reproductive assistance. A quick internet search of “pregnancy resource center” will drudge up countless articles hailing PRCs as “fake abortion clinics” or “fake women’s health centers.”

PRCs are not “fake abortion clinics.” Rather, they are an entirely different type of organization that recognizes both the struggles of mothers facing unplanned pregnancies and the inherent human dignity of the unborn children in their wombs. In every pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned, there are two key players—the mother and the baby. Abortion businesses offer a “solution” that stops a child’s heart and breaks the mother’s. Conversely, PRCs provide substantive care to both the mother and her child.

Pregnancy resource centers provide meaningful, practical assistance that helps mothers follow the counsel of Philippians 4:6-7, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Consider supporting your local PRC today. You can locate the PRCs near you by clicking here.

How Should Christians Use Religious Exemptions for Vaccine Mandates?

by David Closson

September 27, 2021

After months of promising that his administration would not mandate COVID-19 vaccines, President Joe Biden has changed course. Earlier this month, the president issued an executive order requiring millions of federal employees to either get the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. Shortly after the executive order, the president handed down another mandate, requiring all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate their workers be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. The new regulation is supposed to be drafted and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Understandably, many Americans are frustrated by the president’s about-face on mandating vaccines. Vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans alike are concerned about what kind of precedent such a sweeping executive order could set. Those who do not want a COVID-19 vaccine are concerned about how the mandate will personally affect them. As I explained in a previous article, there are serious legal, constitutional, moral, and conscience concerns related to the president’s vaccine mandate. Thus, it is no surprise that many people are asking about exemptions.

Ever since the president’s announcement, the question of religious exemptions has been the subject of a lot of discussion, especially within churches and the Christian community. If there are no clear biblical admonitions against receiving a vaccine, are there any grounds for a religious exemption?

On the legality of such requests, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an influential Christian legal non-profit that defends religious freedom in the courts, provides the following advice

You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural, or political, but not religious, concerns. Many people have medical or other concerns which do not rise to the level of an actual religious belief. A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.

As ADF points out, many objections to vaccines are not religious in nature. Many Christians objecting to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are doing so based on medical, personal, or political concerns. But there is another category of objections—“conscience objections”—which are related to religious objections. Like religious beliefs, conscience claims are deeply personal and connected to the core of a person. Christians believe our conscience is a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. One of the roles of our conscience is to convict us when we do something wrong. Our sense of guilt or shame following a wrong action comes from our conscience.

Christians believe that willfully acting against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems relevant when the action involves something as personal as injecting a vaccine into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). Believers are called to be stewards of their bodies, and this stewardship should be exercised in line with one’s conscience.

These reflections are important when considering the propriety of requesting a religious exemption to the vaccine mandate. Nothing in the Bible forbids Christians from getting vaccinated. Yet others in the Christian community will object to getting vaccinated—whether on conscience, religious, or other grounds. Because Christians believe it is sinful to do anything that goes against one’s conscience and it is wrong to force anyone to do what they think is morally wrong, it is appropriate to respect and accommodate those who have legitimate, morally informed reasons for requesting an exemption.

Finally, those seeking an exemption would do well to examine their hearts and motivations for seeking an exemption. As Christians, our actions should be carried out in faith and with a clear conscience. Additionally, pastors should consider only submitting vaccine exemption requests on behalf of members of their congregation. This provides a level of accountability to the process and keeps insincere appeals and possible abuse in check.

Keeping these principles in mind, what follows is an example letter that can be submitted by one’s pastor as part of a request for an exemption to a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Those consulting this model letter should feel free to modify it to ensure it accurately reflects the sincerely-held beliefs of the individual requesting the exemption. Please also be aware that such a letter from one’s pastor is not legally required to initiate a request for a religious exemption but can nevertheless be submitted by those who wish to do so.

Example Letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing on behalf of [Church Member] as [he/she] is requesting to be exempt from the COVID-19 vaccine mandated by [his/her] employer. After this mandate was announced, [Church Member] requested to meet with me and discuss how [he/she] should respond as a committed Christian and member of [Name of Church].

It is true that, thus far, Christians have come to varying conclusions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, with many deciding to take it while others have not. Although Christians haven’t all come to the same conclusion about the vaccine, what they all share is a biblically informed belief that every single person is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Part of being created in God’s image is to be endowed with a conscience, a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. A role of our conscience is to convict us when we do something wrong. Our conscience inflicts distress, in the form of remorse, whenever we violate what we believe is a morally appropriate course of action.

Significantly, Christians believe that to willfully act against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems especially pertinent when the action involves something as personal as injecting something into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). In other words, Christians believe it is sinful to do something that goes against their conscience and therefore morally wrong to force anyone to do something against their conscience. Christians believe sincere conscience objections should be respected and that no one should be forced to do something they believe is morally impermissible.

[Church Member’s] request for a religious conscience exemption to the COVD-19 vaccine is influenced by the church’s historic teaching on abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of unborn children in the womb). Fetal cell lines were used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and fetal cell lines were used in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. Passages from the Bible—including Exodus 21:22-25, Psalm 51:5-6; 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5, and Luke 1:39-45—affirm the personhood of the unborn. [Church Member] believes in the sanctity of the unborn and that receiving the COVID-19 vaccine would be a violation of [his/her] conscience, which prohibits [him/her] from even a remote complicity with the sin of abortion.

I can affirm that [Church Member] is acting in accordance with [his/her] sincerely-held religious beliefs in requesting a religious exemption. As [Church Member’s] pastor, I affirm that I have spoken with and prayed with [Church Member] about [his/her] request for an exemption. I can affirm that [he/she] is simply trying to follow [his/her] conscience. Therefore, during these difficult times, I prayerfully request that [Church Member’s] employer honors and respects [his/her] request for a religious exemption, just as I hope it would honor the beliefs of its other employees of faith who conscientiously object to receiving the vaccine.

Sincerely,

[Pastor’s Name]

[Church Name]

For further information on exemption requests and information on legal assistance, visit PrayVoteStand.org/vaccine.

How Should Christians Think About Biden’s Vaccine Mandate?

by David Closson

September 20, 2021

On September 9, President Joe Biden announced new executive action concerning COVID-19 vaccines. According to the president’s plan, all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. Businesses that do not comply with the rule can be fined up to $14,000 per violation. The new mandate follows a recent mandate that all federal employees receive the vaccine, get tested weekly, or face dismissal from their job. The new regulation is supposed to be drafted and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor (although some think this is without legal authority). Currently, it is unclear what type of medical, religious, or conscience exemptions will be granted concerning the vaccine mandate.

How should Christians respond to President Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate? Specifically, how should Christians think about religious exemptions and accommodations? Admittedly, these are complex questions on which many biblically grounded Christians differ. But given the scope and far-reaching consequences for civil liberties, conscience rights, religious freedom, and the ability of families to make health decisions, these questions deserve careful consideration and reflection.

Legal Concerns

First, there are serious concerns that President Biden’s vaccine mandate is illegal and unconstitutional. No federal statute or constitutional provision expressly gives the president the authority to impose a sweeping vaccine mandate on private businesses and their employees in this manner, and the Biden administration has an extremely questionable reading of the statute they claim gives him this authority. Some states have already threatened to sue.

At the very least, Christians should be aware of the legal and constitutional concerns related to the president’s order. Once the new rule goes into effect, the mandate might not withstand the likely barrage of lawsuits challenging its legality.

Role of Government

Second, questions about the legality and constitutionality of President Biden’s vaccine mandate should prompt Christians to think about the proper role of government. The Bible teaches that government has been ordained by God. According to Paul, “Whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Rom. 13:2, ESV). In the United States, the primary governing authority is the U.S. Constitution. This means that when a president or any government official pursues a policy that oversteps their prescribed realm of authority, they are acting unlawfully. Of course, when our elected officials issue directives within their rightful scope of authority, Christians are bound to comply, so long as obeying does not require us to sin against God, a Christian’s highest authority (Acts 5:29).  

But do we have an obligation to automatically and always obey the government? Similarly, how should Christians respond if a mandate or law is not illegal, but they personally don’t like the law or find it inconvenient? For example, what’s the proper Christian response if the government were to mandate a weekly exercise routine or require its citizens to wear pink hats on Thursday?  On these questions, Christians should be humble and willing to learn from one another. We should also endeavor to think biblically about the role and purpose of government. 

One helpful way to think biblically about the role of government is through the concept of sphere sovereignty, a philosophy of society developed by Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). According to Kuyper, life is divided into distinct, autonomous jurisdictions such as the state, family, church, and the individual. Although these spheres interact and may even overlap at points, there are clear lines of demarcation related to sovereignty that should not be crossed. For Kuyper, the state is empowered with limited oversight responsibility over the other spheres. However, the state’s authority is derivative, and dependent on God. Thus, the state must never attempt to monopolize power. Moreover, the state should respect the sovereignty of the individual. The state may intervene when a dispute arises between individuals and other spheres, but the state must never assume an outsized role and take over the tasks of society.

In short, sphere sovereignty is a model of diffused power that Kuyper believed was rooted in the structure of nature. Because authority is distributed across society’s vast array of institutions, no single entity or sphere accumulates ultimate sovereignty. Consequently, God’s position as supreme sovereign is preserved. Kuyper’s reflections are helpful when applied to the role of government. In fact, Kuyper’s thought follows the logic of Romans 13 which teaches that the state exists to punish evildoers and exact God’s wrath on those who do wrong (v. 4). Romans 13 does not teach that Christians should uncritically comply with the state no matter what is being demanded. As theologian Thomas Schreiner explains, “[Romans 13] is a general exhortation that delineates what is usually the case: people should normally obey the governing authorities.” In other words, the God-delegated purpose of the governing authorities is to punish evildoers and reward those who do good.

An implication of these principles is that when the government goes beyond its prescribed limits, it is acting unjustly and loses legitimacy. Applying the logic of sphere sovereignty to the vaccine mandate, the government does not have the authority to force us to inject a substance into our bodies that we do not consent to. This is outside the government’s jurisdiction, so it is appropriate for individuals to be wary about forced vaccination. The issue of bodily integrity is important, and Christians should be very concerned when the government oversteps its jurisdiction into the realm of the family and individual.

Of course, it is important to note that this appeal to bodily integrity is different than the popular but logically flawed pro-abortion slogan “my body, my choice.” For one, abortion deals with two bodies: the mothers’ and her child’s. The mother and child are two separate people; they are genetically distinct. Abortion violently destroys the body of the unborn child and interrupts the natural process of pregnancy, permanently severing the relationship between mother and child.

Political Concerns

Third, there are relevant political considerations related to the president’s mandate. In short, if Joe Biden can enact a mandate as broad and sweeping as this one, is there a mandate that this president or a future president can’t hand down in the name of public health? What’s the limit to what the president can compel American families and private companies to do? As it stands, the president’s mandate would affect about 100 million people. This fact alone necessitates careful consideration of the scope of presidential authority and power.

It is worth noting that the president’s directive is far more extreme than the orders handed down by Democrat governors and mayors. Throughout the pandemic, Democrat leaders have embraced measures such as mask mandates, lockdowns, and school closures. But the president’s mandate goes even further. In fact, Biden’s heavy-handed action threatens to increase vaccine hesitancy rather than persuade the unvaccinated to comply with the order.

Conscience Concerns

Fourth, questions about religious exemptions to the vaccine mandate have prompted debate in the wider society, including among Christians. Notably, there is nothing in the Bible that forbids Christians from getting vaccinated. Many Christians, citing verses like Philippians 2:4 (“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”), have cheerfully received COVID-19 vaccines out of a desire to protect not only their own health but also the health of their loved ones and neighbors. Meanwhile, other believers have reservations or sincerely held conscience objections to receiving the vaccine, believing it is morally impermissible or not right for them.

If there are no clear biblical admonitions against receiving a vaccine, are there any grounds for a religious exemption? On this question, Alliance Defending Freedom, an influential Christian legal group, provides the following advice:

You must first determine if your objection is based on a sincerely held religious belief against taking any of the available vaccines (since they are different), or whether your objections are based on other medical, health, cultural, or political, but not religious, concerns. Many people have medical or other concerns which do not rise to the level of an actual religious belief. A belief that taking a vaccine is unwise or could be harmful will normally be considered a medical or health objection, not a religious objection.

While the objections of some Christians to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine are rooted in medical, personal, and political concerns, the concerns of others qualify for what might be called “conscience objections.” Like religious beliefs, conscience claims are deeply personal and connected to the core of a person. Now, when talking about conscience, as with anything, it is important to define our terms. In short, Christians believe conscience is a God-given internal faculty that guides moral decision-making. Our conscience convicts us when we do something wrong. A rightly functioning conscience inflicts distress, in the form of guilt, shame, or remorse, whenever we violate what we believe is a morally appropriate course of action.

Significantly, Christians believe that to willfully act against one’s conscience is sinful. Romans 14:23 teaches that “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” This admonition seems especially pertinent when the action involves something as personal as injecting something into one’s body which, according to Scripture, is a “temple of the Lord” (1 Cor. 6:19). In other words, Christians believe it is sinful to do something that goes against their conscience; therefore, it is morally wrong to force anyone to do something that violates their conscience. In the context of the vaccine mandate, it seems appropriate to honor and respect those who have legitimate, morally informed reasons for receiving or not receiving a vaccine.

Abortion Concerns

Fifth, when it comes to religious freedom concerns and the vaccine, concern about complicity with abortion has been raised. On this front, it is worth noting that for 2,000 years, Christians have been clear on their convictions about abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of unborn children in the womb). According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, fetal cell lines were used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, and fetal cell lines were used in the testing of the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines (but not in the vaccines themselves). Passages from the Bible—including Exodus 21:22-25; Psalm 51:5-6, 139:13-16; Jeremiah 1:4-5; and Luke 1:39-45—affirm the personhood of the unborn. Many who believe in the sanctity of life sincerely believe it is inappropriate to have even the slightest connection with abortion, even if that connection is remote. For that reason, some have chosen to forego a vaccine while many other pro-life Americans have chosen to get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine and avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine due to the latter’s use of fetal cell lines in its development and production.

Finally, as a general note, when abortion-derived cell lines are used in the development, production, or testing of vaccines, the Christian community—including those who chose to get vaccines—should express disapproval about the continued use of these cell lines and request that laboratories and pharmaceutical companies not use these cell lines in the future.

Final Reflections

In short, President Biden’s vaccine mandate has proven to be divisive and frustrating to millions of Americans. After months of promising that his administration would not mandate vaccines, Biden has done an about-face. (As recently as July, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked about vaccine mandates and responded, “Can we mandate vaccines across the country? No. That’s not a role that the federal government, I think, even has the power to make.”) Many Americans are understandably outraged. As those called to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), Christians cannot respond to the vaccine mandate simply out of emotion but must think carefully and biblically about the announcement. Legal challenges will determine whether the order is constitutional and therefore enforceable.

But beyond the specifics of the mandate, Christians should think biblically about the role and authority of government as well as the propriety and wisdom of appealing to religious freedom exemptions. Religious freedom is a precious right afforded to those who live in this country and should never be abused. Although some Christians think it is unwise to appeal to religious freedom exemptions when the Bible does not prohibit vaccines, it is nonetheless the case that millions of Christians believe taking a COVID-19 vaccine is not the right decision for their health or have sincere conscience objections to being forced to do something they deem even remotely connected to an immoral practice such as abortion. Therefore, rather than bully, cajole, or coerce our fellow Americans, it seems prudent to respect each other’s religious beliefs, consciences, and moral convictions concerning vaccines.

How the “Infrastructure” Bill Is a Trojan Horse for a Leftist Social Agenda

by Family Research Council

August 6, 2021

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure “deal” that is being floated in Congress right now is very bad news. It not only increases the national budget deficit (which has already ballooned to three times the level seen in 2019), but it also contains a “poison pill” that advances an aggressive leftist agenda on marriage and human sexuality. It is effectively a steppingstone to achieving the Equality Act’s ultimate goal—a total overhaul of our federal civil rights framework to mandate special privileges based on “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI).

Congressional Democrats are pairing this infrastructure “deal” with an additional piece of legislation championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)—a $3.5 trillion bill that reportedly includes the following items from the Left’s wish list:

  • Universal pre-Kindergarten, which would take children out of parents’ care and enroll them in public education even earlier.
  • Free two-year community college for everyone, including illegal immigrants, which would further incentivize academic institutions over personalized choices for successful career paths.
  • $1.6 billion for teacher certification programs that can be used to exclude any teachers that do not want to promote Critical Race Theory and gender ideology.
  • A nationally-mandated paid leave program that allows employees to take paid leave for almost any reason given, rather than for specific family reasons like caring for a newborn child or taking care of an elderly parent. A national mandate on paid leave may also disincentivize employers to offer their own more flexible parental leave plans that fit their employee’s needs.
  • A permanent expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies that will directly fund health plans that cover abortion.
  • The potential for either a public option or a side-by-side Medicaid program that will sidestep the Hyde Amendment and fund abortions directly with taxpayer dollars. (See frc.org/families to learn about our concerns with Biden’s anti-family plan.)

Many of the specifics contained in the infrastructure bill and the Sanders bill were released back in the spring as part of one comprehensive $4 trillion economic plan that President Biden positioned as one of his signature progressive priorities. It was released in two parts:

  1. The American Jobs Plan totaling $2.3 trillion, released March 31
  2. The American Families Plan totaling $1.78 trillion, released April 28

From the outset, all of the polices in these two bills have been sold as one comprehensive plan to “build back better.” As these plans got worked into legislation, most of the American Jobs Plan ended up in the current infrastructure “deal.” Then, all of the Families Plan, the remaining parts of the Jobs Plan, and some additional proposals were swept into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation blueprint the Senate has committed to take up immediately after passing a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

President Biden and Democrat congressional leadership are hoping to pass as much of the president’s $4 trillion policy dream from the spring and whatever other liberal goodies are feasible. Whether that comes in two bills (one bipartisan the other partisan), or one partisan reconciliation bill, they will pass as much as they can. That sets up two scenarios:

  1. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill succeeds, it frees up a full $3.5 trillion that can be used completely on progressive priorities, since the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending is already taken care of.
  2. If the bipartisan infrastructure bill fails, the entire infrastructure bill will most likely be rolled into the broader reconciliation bill, making it more challenging to convince moderate Democrats to sign off on major progressive priorities in a bill that could swell to over $5 trillion.

Why defeating the infrastructure bill is important:

  • If the infrastructure bill is defeated, the infrastructure spending in reconciliation would become a top priority for moderate Democrats. This would make it more difficult for the more liberal Democrats to cram radical policies into reconciliation. Although the majority party can set a topline spending number as high as they want, for reconciliation, they will have to choose a number the most moderate members are okay with. If a higher topline number is agreed to, it will force Democrats to pick and choose which programs they include, increasing the likelihood that we will see fewer bad programs overall if the bipartisan deal is defeated.
  • It will be really hard for Senators Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sinema (D-Ariz.), and some others to justify voting for over $5 trillion in direct partisan spending—which they would be doing if all this is crammed into one bill. Known for working across the aisle, both Sinema and Manchin have expressed concern with a $3.5 trillion price tag for reconciliation, making it hard for them to accept an even higher price tag on a purely partisan deal.
  • We should remember that anything in the reconciliation package would be subject to the Byrd Rule (allowing senators to block unrelated provisions), so Republicans helping Democrats pass their infrastructure priorities is saving Democrats from having to make all those provisions compliant to this rule.

Some Senate Republicans insist the two are separate bills, but President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have already promised to pair them. Given the limited amount that Democrats can pass in reconciliation without Republican votes, every vote for this bipartisan “deal” creates room for more liberal wish list items in reconciliation.

In short, paying for roads and bridges in the infrastructure “deal” clears the deck for Democrats to focus on the radical policies in reconciliation. If this deal fails, Democrats will have to do roads and bridges in reconciliation. Since the reconciliation process is limited, there’d be less room for their partisan pet projects.

Thus, in this case, a vote for “infrastructure” is a vote for Biden’s entire progressive agenda.

**To tell your Senators to reject this bad bill, go here: frcaction.org/infrastructure

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