Tag Archives: Susan B. Anthony List

Abortion leaves an awful hole

In the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, a suicidal George Bailey is given a vision of what life would have been like for his family, his friends and his community if he had never been born.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser

George sees his beloved wife Mary as a lonely spinster, and his town of Bedford Falls as a seedy “Pottersville,” named after George’s avaricious rival. He learns that his war hero brother Harry died because George wasn’t there to rescue him when he fell into a frozen pond as a child; the soldiers Harry saved during the war perished, too. Clarence Oddbody, the angel sent to bring George this vision, remarks, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

I often wish that parents who learn through prenatal diagnosis that their child has autism, Down syndrome or another disability could be granted a vision, too — a glimpse into the future to see what a wonderful life awaits them because their child is in the world. But far too often, whether out of fear, convenience, or lack of information on modern advancements — and support for people with Downs and their families — some parents choose to create an “awful hole” in their futures. They end the life of their unborn child through abortion. One-third of individuals with Down syndrome are aborted. New blood tests to accurately and non-invasively diagnose anomalies at an earlier stage of pregnancy will push that number even higher.

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis acknowledges this reality and affirms the infinite value of every child. “Scientific advances today allow us to know beforehand what color a child’s hair will be or what illnesses they may one day suffer…. It matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations. For children are a gift” (#170).

The idea that every child is a gift has been under vicious assault in the United States in the four decades since Roe v. Wade. Far too often the unborn child is viewed as disposable, or even worse, a commodity whose body parts are bought and sold. Couples turn to genetic technologies to design babies to their specifications and rent wombs in which these babies can grow. A review by the Charlotte Lozier Institute shows that sex-selection via preimplantation genetic diagnosis and abortion is a persistent problem here and around the world. Babies diagnosed in utero with disabilities are destroyed at an alarming rate.

Despite these horrors, there is hope. Majorities in both houses of Congress support legislation to ban abortion nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the point at which an unborn child can feel pain. A bill to defund Planned Parenthood passed last year; only President Obama’s veto kept it from becoming law.

Indiana and North Dakota have enacted laws stopping abortions for reasons related to the baby’s sex, race or disability. Similar measures have been introduced in Missouri and Ohio. Among the most ardent supporters of these initiatives have been parents of disabled children. Their experience confirms research published in 2011 in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, which found that the vast majority of families are enriched by having a child with Downs. Nearly 80% of parents said their outlook on life was more positive as a result; 97% of siblings aged 12 and above said they felt proud of their brother or sister with Down syndrome, and 88% were convinced they were better people because of their sibling. A study of adults with Downs found that 99% said they were happy with their lives. What a contrast to the prevailing attitudes of adults who don’t have Down syndrome!

In my own family, we too can testify to the joy of life with a special needs child. Our oldest daughter Hannah recently reflected as a young adult on what it means to have a sister with disabilities: “My life, my decisions, my relationships, and my communities are a thousand times stronger for having her.”

Dr. Jerome Lejeune is often called the “Father of Modern Genetics” for his discovery of the genetic cause of Down syndrome and other disabilities. He was also a devout Catholic who said, “The enemies of life know that to destroy Christian civilization, they must first destroy the family at its weakest point — the child. And among the weakest, they must choose the least protected of all — the child who has never been seen.”

But the enemies of life can only win if we leave the battlefield, and the pro-life movement shows no signs of giving up. Indeed, it’s energized as never before to fight for the wonderful life of every baby, no matter its circumstances. Like George Bailey’s angel Clarence, we know that the loss of even one life leaves an “awful hole” that diminishes the family, the community and the world.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER is president of the Susan B. Anthony List and a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

Pain-capable abortion legislation

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER writes that new pain-capable legislation is a pro-life game-changer . . .

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser

by Marjorie Dannenfelser

For the first time since Roe v. Wade, we are very close to protecting an entire class of unborn children from abortion. These children will not be spared because of a parental notification law or because their mothers rejected the gruesome reality of abortion after informed consent.

Although these laws are good, just, and lifesaving, they regulate around the child. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would save the lives of children simply because they are children. Boy or girl. Created by God. Sent into the world for a specific purpose, without whom we are a lesser nation.

We may have lost faith at times along the way, but it’s telling of the pro-life movement that we did not stop. While we have been waiting to change the law, we have been on our knees in prayer. We have been in front of abortion facilities counseling. We have welcomed women into our hearts and into pregnancy care centers and have welcomed their children into the world by the tens of thousands.

But our nation is finally getting to the point where we are living up to the aspirations of our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Living up to those aspirations — to protect and enrich the lives of the most vulnerable — means that we are continuing a pathway begun by our Founders. In their wisdom, these men set up a system of government where, when there was an injustice to be confronted, the American people had the tools to fight and to overcome. It’s simple: There needs to be a law.

Every other successful human rights movement has come to this moment. It is that moment to understand where you are in history, to seize what is before you. It is that moment to freshen resolve because the fight it not over; there is a seminal battle ahead of us. And for the right to life movement, the battle has two fronts: at the ballot box and in the halls of Congress.

First, at the ballot box. The 2014 midterms revealed that abortion-centered feminism is dying, if not dead. Pro-choice candidates in the last election were advised, almost unilaterally, not to speak of the abortion issue. Retreated from their own abortion-centered position, the abortion lobby and its candidates are talking about pay equity and family life. Meanwhile, our candidates and volunteers are going on offense to expose hidden abortion extremism.

The Susan B. Anthony List saw this on the ground in 2014. We saw how person-to-person interaction, on doorsteps across five states, can make the difference in a tight race. Our pro-life activists were ready and willing to talk to their neighbors about the importance of voting pro-life. Moreover, they were ready to bring our message to outlying communities. We have learned that being bold with our pro-life ideals, taking our message to Democrats, women, independents, and Hispanics, yields important fruit.

Our candidates are echoing the message. Fourteen declared and likely Republican presidential candidates have spoken out in support of the Pain-Capable bill and are now calling out their Democrat counterparts for their unwavering allegiance to abortion on demand. With a broad coalition of candidates going on offense, cheered on by an equally broad coalition of pundits, pro-life leaders are poised to flip the script on abortion.

The pathway to success in 2016, to electing a pro-life president, will require going on offense like this. Taking the White House is the last key step in passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on May 13.

That journey was not without its own struggles. In the interim months since the bill was delayed, pro-life activists rallied by generating thousands of phone calls and messages to Congress requesting a vote. Fortunately, our pro-life champions in the House heeded the calls of the grassroots.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is ready to move with this proposal in the U.S. Senate and will introduce the legislation with an impressive number of original co-sponsors. When the time comes to have the debate in the Senate, Graham said, “It will be a joy; it will not be a burden.”

Passing this legislation and seeing it signed into law by a prolife president, who we must help elect in 2016, will be no small accomplishment. This compassionate legislation will save 15,000-18,000 children a year! When we consider the effort that goes into saving just one life, imagine what it will means to save 40 per day! We are on the cusp of this reality and we must see it as a beginning. This is the beginning of the end of abortion.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List and a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

The ballot box and the power to save lives

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER: Legates must engage politically during this fall’s elections . . .

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Marjorie Dannenfelser

Pro-lifers and religious liberty lovers cheered the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 30 Hobby Lobby ruling, which confirmed that religious people don’t have to choose between their faith and their business.

The hostile response to this modest win, however, is a clear indication that the battle to keep our voices is far from over. Our responsibility as Catholics to engage in the public square has reached a tipping point. Last year Pope Francis spoke of our obligation to engage politically: “I have to do my best by participating in politics according to my ability. We all have something to give!”

Not one of us can shirk this responsibility to participate — to reach out to the marginalized, the weak and the vulnerable. What use is it to fight for our own voices when we don’t use them to fight for those who have none?

The unborn child has no voice. As the abortionist’s instrument draws near, she emits a silent scream, recoiling from the pain. In fact, research shows that by at least five months gestation (20 weeks), the developing child feels pain, making abortion a particularly excruciating death. A recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that the U.S. is one of only seven countries — including China and North Korea — to allow abortion beyond this point.

Groaning under the burden of this brutal national distinction, 13 states have already passed laws to address this butchery. Last year, Washington took notice. At the encouragement of Susan B. Anthony List, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a compassionate, common-sense limit.

Despite the efforts of our coalition in the U.S. Senate, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), pro-abortion Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has repeatedly blocked advancement of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act in the second chamber. That’s why SBA List and our partner, Women Speak Out PAC, has launched a multi-state campaign targeting vulnerable senators in North Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana — all who oppose the five-month limit.

For the last few weeks and through Election Day, our pro-life volunteers will knock on thousands of doors to speak face-to-face with pro-life and swing voters, educating them about this historic legislation and encouraging them to elect a senator who will support it. Gains made at the ballot box will translate directly to Congress, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has already pledged to bring the Pain- Capable bill to a vote if his party takes the majority.

All of this gets us one step closer to our goal of saving the 18,000 children whose lives are ended by late abortion every year — 18,000 unique individuals who were sent to this world with a purpose. The consequences of failing to act are dire. Real lives hang in the balance. Lives like Charlotte Ryun — an extraordinary little girl who is the feature of our Women Speak Out media campaign. Charlotte’s parents, Ned and Rebecca explain how their daughter, born premature at 24 weeks, fought desperately to survive. Charlotte and other miracle babies like her are a testament to the humanity of all unborn children currently unprotected by law.

It can be easy to “check out” when it comes to politics. The outcomes seem inaccessible, the leaders disinterested. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it’s not, but our obligation remains the same: We must allow Christ’s love to transform our environment. When it is toxic and death-dealing, there is all the more reason to take what we’ve been given as Catholics — passion for bettering this world by protecting and welcoming the vulnerable — and share it. In the words of St. Catherine of Sienna: If we are what we should be, we will go out and set the world on fire!

Of all people, candidates and elected officials — especially pro- life ones — have an ability to grasp this edict deeply. It’s easy to underestimate the threats to their positive leadership. To fight for life is to make sacrifices. Whether it’s in Washington or a state house, true heroes often go without much family time, without the comforts of home and all that entails. Because there is much to accomplish (our Founding Founders spelled it out very clearly), there is much to lose. When we lose our moral and religious core, our nation suffers.

Thomas Jefferson and others warned what would happen to our form of governance if morality and religion lost hold on the hearts and minds of citizens and leaders. The experiment in democracy would fail. Children who were sent to solve our most intractable problems will continue to die before they get a chance if we put off for another day exercising our civic duty to fight for their lives. We have the power to elect leaders who will pass laws to save their lives.  Let’s use it.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER is the president of the Susan B. Anthony List and a member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

ObamaCare and the truth of abortion funding

Dorinda Bordlee: SBA List challenges an Ohio statute criminalizing political speech . . .

Dorinda C. Bordlee

Dorinda C. Bordlee

The U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing a challenge that involves abortion, lies and ObamaCare. The case, Susan B. Anthony v. Driehaus, involves a free speech challenge to an Ohio law that criminalizes “false statements” about a candidate’s voting record.

The case raises important questions about the rights of citizens and advocacy groups to criticize elected officials’ votes without fearing criminal prosecution by partisans who claim that truth is false.

“Congressman Steve Driehaus voted for taxpayer funding of abortion when he cast a vote for the health care reform bill.” Those words, communicated by the Susan B. Anthony List to Ohio voters in the midst of the 2010 mid-term elections, are true. Yet the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), a pro-life advocacy group under the leadership of Legate Marjorie Dannenfelser, was soon haled before Ohio’s elections commission, which — by a 2-1 vote along partisan lines — found “probable cause” to believe that such speech violated Ohio’s false-statement law. Another group wanted to communicate the same message, but refrained from doing so for fear of criminal prosecution, demonstrating how the Ohio law chills political speech.

The election complaint was brought by now-former Rep. Driehaus, a “Blue Dog Democrat” who was a member of the infamous Stupak 10. Like many in that group, Driehaus abandoned his resolve to vote against any health care bill that did not include a Hyde-like amendment expressly prohibiting abortion funding across the entire act. As you may recall, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow a vote on the Stupak Amendment that would have done just that.

Despite the lack of any abortion-limiting language in the bill, Driehaus justified his “yes” vote on ObamaCare on the hollow executive order provided as cover by the President. Planned Parenthood’s president even called the order “a symbolic gesture.” Driehaus’ vote cost him his seat in Congress, but it hasn’t stopped litigation over both the truthfulness of the claim and the constitutionality of a state law that chills the speech of citizens who dare to say that the Emperor has no clothes.

This spring, the Supreme Court will address the question of whether the Sixth Circuit erred by holding, in direct conflict with the Eighth Circuit, that state laws which punish “false” political speech are not subject to pre-enforcement First Amendment review so long as the speaker maintains that its speech is true, even if others who enforce the law manifestly disagree.

SBA List attorneys argue that the Sixth Circuit holding flies in the face of the Supreme Court’s case law and undermines the most basic First Amendment values. In support, Bioethics Defense Fund filed a key amicus brief to aid the Court in answering the underlying question that started the controversy: namely, whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) authorizes taxpayer funding of abortion.

The answer is “yes.” Yet the federal district court concluded otherwise, reasoning that “the express language of the ACA does not provide for tax-payer funded abortion. That is a fact and it is clear on its face.” But, as our brief explains, this conclusion is superficial, and therefore erroneous. The court’s conclusion ignores both the jurisprudential context in which the ACA was enacted (showing that courts compel abortion coverage unless expressly excluded), and it ignores the Act’s drafting history that shows the repeated rejection and thwarting of House-adopted abortion-limiting language on the ACA’s billions of dollars of independent appropriations.

Our brief explains that the final ACA did not — and still does not — contain an amendment limiting abortion funding across the entire Act. In fact, the President issued a veto threat of a 2011 House-passed bill that would have added that language. This has resulted in concrete examples of how implementation has authorized funding of elective abortion in federal programs, as well as the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize exchange plans that cover surgical abortion and the abortion-inducing drugs required by the HHS mandate.

In short, SBA List seeks to challenge an Ohio statute that criminalizes core political speech that Bioethics Defense Fund demonstrates to be truthful. Yet the Sixth Circuit decision has concluded that the challenge is not ripe given that the election is over, ignoring the fact that their political speech has been erroneously labeled false and concretely constrained by an elections commission that has the statutory power to act as a truth-squad. If free speech is to be protected, the Supreme Court must reverse the decision and allow the statute’s constitutionality to be challenged.

DORINDA C. BORDLEE is co-founder of Bioethics Defense Fund, a non-profit legal organization that advocates for the dignity of human life through litigation, legislation and public education.