By Jim Sedlak
We take a few moments today to look back at the last year and thank God for the victories we have witnessed.
California abortuaries closing
Earlier this year, we told you of the incredible journey of the Our Lady of Guadalupe missionary image that traveled throughout the state of California. Her journey was known as Our Lady’s Mission for Life. She was taken, by Teresa Marsano and Dora Lee Raras, to 141 abortion facilities in the state. At each facility, prayers and other devotional acts called upon the mother of God to close down the abortion facilities. Word reached us this week that, thus far, six of the abortion facilities during the OLG pilgrimage have closed down. Praise God!
Planned Parenthood closing abortion centers
Planned Parenthood continues to close abortion centers at a pace far exceeding new facilities being opened. The latest research by STOPP shows that, in 2017 alone, Planned Parenthood closed over 30 abortion facilities while opening just a half-dozen new ones. This continued shrinking of the abortion giant is good news for communities across the United States and is lifesaving news for the babies and their mothers who will no longer be subject to the evils of Planned Parenthood at these closed facilities.
Trump administration demonstrates a pro-life dedication
What a difference a president makes! President Donald Trump took office in January and immediately began making positive moves. The biggest, of course, was his selection of Neil Gorsuch to be the latest justice of the Supreme Court, but there have been many more. I’ve selected just a few to mention here:
- Trump appointed a large number of pro-lifers to the Department of Health and Human Services. These appointees have made great strides in undoing the harmful effects of the Obama administration. Early on, the DHHS began closing down the offensive Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs. This was a multi-million dollar effort by Obama to spread Planned Parenthood sex education programs across the nation. DHHS has notified all fund recipients that the program will end in 2018. In addition, DHHS, when putting together its latest strategy document, stated that the agency saw its responsibility as extending throughout all stages of a human being’s life—from conception (creation/biological beginning). This is the first time DHHS has stated that its mission includes preborn babies.
- In another recognition of the humanity of the preborn child, the administration’s proposed tax reform bill (H.R. 1) includes the ability of parents to establish college saving accounts for their preborn children. This bill has now passed the House and will go to the Senate.
- In its latest demonstration of continued support for preborn children, President Trump has nominated Alex Michael Azar II, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. In his last time serving the federal government, Mr. Azar was the deputy secretary of the DHHS and also previously served as its general counsel.
FBI investigation of Planned Parenthood and baby body parts business
Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the sale of baby body parts has been a hot topic in the pro-life world for decades. The public involvement was given a major boost when David Daleiden and the heroes at the Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos of the industry in July 2015. In 2016, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate conducted separate investigations into the baby body parts industry. Both investigations resulted in the finding that laws were probably broken, and Planned Parenthood—as well as others involved in the industry—was referred to the U.S. Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. Just this month it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked the Senate committee that conducted the investigation for thousands of documents accumulated through the course of its investigation. Although the FBI will neither confirm nor deny any details of any ongoing investigation, the fact that this request was sent is considered good evidence that the FBI is, in fact, looking into this industry. The strong possibility that Planned Parenthood is under serious investigation by the FBI for possible criminal investigation is surely something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Pro-lifers scoring a growing number of victories in court
From its beginnings, Planned Parenthood has sought to force its agenda on the American people through court cases. PP opened the U.S. mail to pornography due to a number of court cases in the 1940s. It forced the decriminalization of birth control through the Griswold decision of the Supreme Court in 1965 and followed that with the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions in 1973 that decriminalized abortion. It went back to court in 1996 to keep pornography available on the Internet in the United States. The current major thrust of Planned Parenthood’s court cases is to force the American public to finance its operations. Anytime a city or state wants to give money to another entity instead of Planned Parenthood, PP runs to a judge to get what it considers as its money. In this climate, we are thankful that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decided just last week that Arkansas is within its rights to deny Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. Although we expect Planned Parenthood to escalate this, the fact is that courts are beginning to show that they are not just rubber stamps for Planned Parenthood. Thank God!
Supreme Court accepts pregnancy resource center case
In 2015, the state of California passed the Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775). According to published reports, AB 775 requires licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services. The disclosure must also include a phone number for a county office that refers women to Planned Parenthood and other abortionists. The law has other provisions that basically require any pregnancy resource center to advocate for abortion.
Court cases contesting the law have been moving through the courts since 2015, yet judges have allowed the law to go into effect while the cases proceed. Last month, despite the clear violation of free speech and religious freedom, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the FACT Act.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, with the assistance of attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, is spearheading the effort to overturn the law. The lawsuit is entitled the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra (Xavier Becerra is the attorney general of California).
Tom Glessner, president and CEO of NIFLA, said his group was appealing the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the law violates both free speech and religious freedom. Just last week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear this case to decide on the constitutionality of the law. This is significant because the Supreme Court says it receives 7,000 to 8,000 requests to hear cases a year and ultimately only accepts about 180 (less than three percent). We must all fervently pray as the case now moves to the Supreme Court.
Let’s resolve to be thankful and persistent this Thanksgiving Day
The battle to save the lives of preborn children is raging in the United States and continues to destroy millions of lives and families. There are signs of hope out there, but we must remember that we are still killing an estimated 920,000 babies a year through medical and surgical abortion. We also kill millions more through so-called contraceptives and in vitro fertilization.
Yet, we cannot neglect to take count of the hopeful signs around us. The pro-life movement is strong and getting stronger. New educational programs, like the Culture of Life Studies Program, are being developed for K-12 students so they graduate high school with a firm foundation in the humanity of the preborn child and a burning desire to do something about the carnage. In addition, college students have more availability than ever to the truth, as groups like SFLA’s Rock for Life, ALL’s Life Defenders, PFL’s Stand True Ministries, and many other outreach groups teach the tenets of our faith.
The items mentioned in this article are just a small number of the successes and things we should be thankful for this November. This Thanksgiving Day, amidst all the eating, family reunions, football games, and the start of the shopping season, let us vow to take some time for Jesus Christ, our Savior. We thank God the Father for Jesus. We thank Jesus for opening the gates of heaven to us. We thank Mary, the Mother of Jesus, for showing us the perfect way for a human being to react to the presence of the Holy Trinity in our lives.
Let us meditate this week on the positive signs that are appearing in our struggle. The media won’t talk about them, but they are there. These are signs given to us by God to show us that, even in the United States in 2017, there is hope.
Jim Sedlak is executive director of American Life League, founder of STOPP International, and host of a weekly talk show on the Radio Maria network. He has been successfully fighting Planned Parenthood since 1985.