Peter J. Smith

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Who is Rick Perry? - Part II: A Texas governor’s pro-life legacy

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith
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Edited 8.22.2011

This continues from Part One of LSN’s special report: Who is Rick Perry? See Part III,  The case against Rick Perry - pro-life and pro-family concerns

AUSTIN, Texas, August 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Texas governor Rick Perry has stepped onto the national stage, officially announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination on Saturday. Perry’s move means that he will face scrutiny on his record, especially from social conservatives looking to see if he will be an asset or a liability on their issues.

When it comes to the life issues, however, Perry has a clear record of promoting the pro-life cause, and is supported by many pro-life leaders, particularly from his own state.

Strong working relationship with pro-life movement

As governor, Rick Perry signed Texas’s informed consent law, the Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2003, and legislation giving unborn children at any point in gestation separate victim status in a crime (the Prenatal Protection Act 2003).

Perry also signed into law a 2005 measure to reorganize the Texas medical board that included two anti-abortion amendments. One amendment included a parental consent consent law, the other included a measure restricting abortion after 26 weeks gestation. The law against very late term abortions allows exceptions in the cases where the mother faces substantial risk of death, “imminent, severe, irreversible brain damage or paralysis,” or if her unborn child has “severe, irreversible brain impairment.”

Perry also made Texas the 10th U.S. state to fund abortion alternatives beginning in 2005.

During the most recent legislative session, Perry declared a new sonogram bill an “emergency” priority, allowing the legislature to swiftly enact the law that requires abortionists to provide women an ultrasound of their unborn child and an opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat before making a decision on abortion.

Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life says that the pro-life community in Texas has enjoyed a “productive and successful relationship with Gov. Perry” for more than a decade, ever since he was elected the state’s Lieutenant Governor in 1998. That position made him president of the state Senate, and Graham said Perry first acted to “restructure the committees in the state Senate so pro-life bills could pass.”

The move, according to Graham, allowed pro-life advocates to bypass hostile Senate leaders and finally get pro-life legislation to the desk of then-Gov. George W. Bush, beginning with a bill requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion.

“He is very sympathetic, he’s been a very proactive leader in Texas for the [pro-life] cause,” said Graham.

She added that Perry “recognizes that human life begins at fertilization” and is an outspoken defender of human life. Graham added that she was not aware of a time that Perry supported legal abortion; he has been an evangelical Christian since his youth.

She added that Perry has “personally intervened” to help move pro-life legislation forward, and remove legislative obstacles. In the case of one bill, SB 7, Graham said Perry stepped in to give pro-life advocates time to close a loophole in the bill that would have permitted Medicaid funding for abortion in cases of fetal abnormality.

Tenth Amendment, states’ rights, and judges

Perry adheres to a strong 10th amendment, or states rights philosophy, especially on abortion. The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution iterates that either the states or the people retain governmental powers not explicitly given to the federal government in the Constitution.

Perry has made the case that the states would be in a better position to defend the unborn than the federal government, which has been a prime donor to the abortion industry at home, through subsidizing Planned Parenthood, or funding abortion groups overseas.

The U.S. Supreme Court curtailed the power of the states to restrict or regulate abortion with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, making abortion a constitutional right, and therefore a federal issue. This has prevented states from passing pro-life laws that would greatly restrict or ban abortion.

Perry, however, has said that while he believes abortion is a matter for the states, he would support a Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Such an amendment would be consistent with his states-based approach, because it would require the common consent of three-quarters of the States and supermajorities in both chambers of Congress.

Graham said that based on her experience, Perry “would be supportive of any measures that Congress sent to his desk that would protect the sanctity of innocent human life.”

She added that Perry also has a proven record of appointing state judges and state Supreme Court justices who interpret the laws and state constitution with a strict constructionist view. Graham said that Perry’s “important legacy” is the mark he has made in shaping the state’s judiciary, making pro-life legislation less susceptible to being struck down by activist judges. 

Pro-life efforts on behalf of stem-cell research

Perry has supported adult stem-cell research, touting its effectiveness over embryonic stem-cell research, which he has opposed. Recently he highlighted the successful medical application of adult stem cells with his own July 1 back surgery. Perry spokesman Mark Miner called told the Texas Tribune in a statement that doctors made “innovative use of [Perry’s] own adult stem cells” to aid the healing process.

Perry has lobbied adult stem cell companies to make their home in Texas.

The Tribune reports Perry wrote the Texas Medical Board that he wanted Texas to “become the world’s leader in the research and use of adult stem cells” and that the board should consider when they write their new rules on stem cell treatments “the revolutionary potential that adult stem cell research and therapies have on our nation’s health, quality of life and economy.”

According to the Tribune, Perry called on state leaders to invest in adult stem cell companies in his 2009 State of the State address, and that same year he awarded grants totaling $7.5 million to adult stem cell pioneers Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Regenerative Medicine and America Stem Cell through Texas’s Emerging Technology Fund.

The governor has also advocated banning human cloning, and has pledged to veto any measure that would provide state funds for embryonic stem cell research.

Perry’s high-profile pro-life leadership

Perry has made personal appearances at rallies and events to promote the pro-life cause.

Perry spoke before 5,000 Hispanic pro-life advocates at Eduardo Verástegui’s recent United for Life (Unidos por la Vida) event in Los Angeles. There he condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, saying “50 million children have lost their chance at life—a tragic legacy of judicial activism and a stark reminder that our culture and our country are still in peril.”

The Texas governor spoke at a Heroic Media fundraiser along with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2010, lamenting that the United States “is in the business of exporting abortion.”

“I’m not happy about that,” said Perry. Tying in his 10th amendment philosophy to the pro-life agenda, he added, “Too bad we can’t protect [unborn children] from the federal government.”

Perry also spoke at Texas’s Rally for Life on January 22, and praised the state for having “taken great strides in protecting the unborn.”

The governor also issued a proclamation naming April as “Abortion Recovery Awareness Month,” making him one of the few U.S. governors to do so.

Next in Part Three: The case against Rick Perry - pro-life and pro-family concerns

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A protester rallies against Hobby Lobby, protesting against the Supreme Court decision Dan Holm/Shutterstock
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

DNC chairwoman exhorts constituents to boycott local Hobby Lobby store

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

The Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision was nearly two months ago, but the issue as hot as ever, as was demonstrated yesterday when Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz, D-FL, urged constituents to boycott a Hobby Lobby store in her district.

In a press conference one lot away from the Hobby Lobby location in Davie, which opened in April, Wasserman-Schultz said that she wanted "people to know that this Hobby Lobby is here and they should vote with their purses and their pocketbooks, and women should not shop here."

"If you didn’t know this Hobby Lobby was here before, know it now and don’t shop here. They don’t deserve women’s business because they are the ones that all across the country have made it harder for women to get access to birth control,” she said.

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Wasserman-Schultz said that Hobby Lobby's corporate ownership "doesn’t support its employees" and "wants to be able to get in the personal business of their employees and make health care decisions and replace their own values, replace their employees’ health care decisions, with their values…."

She also criticized the Supreme Court's late June decision in favor of Hobby Lobby, which had sued the federal government over the Obama administration's HHS Mandate.

The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, say it violates their conscience to pay for coverage for the four abortifacients and potential abortifacients that the mandate required them to cover.

"The Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case was not only disappointing, it was dangerous," said the Democrat. "No boss should have the right to dictate and employee’s health decisions because [they] don’t belong in the bedrooms, doctor’s offices or pharmacies of their employees.

"A woman and her doctor know what’s best for their body. Not an insurance company. Not a politician. And certainly not a manager at a Hobby Lobby."

The Supreme Court's decision allowed closely held corporations to not fund coverage of contraception or abortion drugs and devices.

Wasserman-Schultz's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Through a spokesperson, the Green family declined to comment about the Congresswoman's statements. 

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America is rejecting abortion because pro-lifers are having more children: study

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

According to a new Northwestern University study, American attitudes about abortion are trending more conservatively than other contentious social issues, a phenomenon the authors credit to the simple fact that pro-lifers have more kids.

“We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes,” the authors wrote. Using GSS data collected between 1977 and 2010, “We test[ed] the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population.”

The authors wrote: “Support for abortion rights has turned flat after a period of increase following Roe v. Wade, and in recent years there are even indications of a reversal toward more restrictive attitudes. This U-turn is evinced particularly among younger cohorts, and is happening despite liberalizing trends in several ostensibly related issue domains.”

The authors speculated that the reason for the increase in pro-life attitudes among young people is that their parents had more children than their pro-abortion counterparts. When they examined the data, they found that pro-life individuals had, on average, 27 percent more children than those who considered themselves “pro-choice.”

Not only that, but pro-life parents appear to be much more likely to pass their views on to their children. The researchers found that the younger generation’s pro-life shift was too strong to be blamed solely on differences in fertility – meaning children of pro-abortion parents are rejecting their parents’ views.

“[E]ither pro-life beliefs are always more faithfully transmitted than pro-choice ones; or, there has been a cultural shift towards more pro-life beliefs that is being reflected in the parent-child correlations,” the authors wrote.

The study concluded that if it wasn’t for the higher fertility rate among pro-life people, the nation as a whole would favor abortion by about five percentage points more than it does currently – and researchers predict the pro-life trend will continue.

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“Taken together, these findings suggest that fertility has had at least some part in leading the population in a more pro-life direction over time,” the authors wrote. “Further investigation into this pattern indicates that not only are abortion attitudes associated with fertility, but in proportional terms—which is what matters for cultural change—the gap is widening.”

“Fertility has declined for both pro-choice and pro-life groups over the past 30 years, but fertility has declined far less markedly for pro-life individuals,” they added. “Whereas pro-[life] individuals born before 1940 were only having about 1.2 children per one child born to a pro-choice parent, this ratio has grown to over 1.5 for those born in the mid to late 1970s. This pattern suggests that future cohorts may place an even stronger demographic drag on the liberalization of abortion attitudes.”

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A declaration that PP is an 'enemy of the Church' would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication. American Life League
Lisa Bourne

New campaign asks Pope Francis to declare Planned Parenthood an ‘enemy of the Church’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

The Catholic pro-life organization American Life League (ALL) is launching a campaign calling for the Catholic Church to declare Planned Parenthood an “enemy of the Church.”

Using prayer and education, ALL’s Defend the Family campaign seeks to expose the nation’s largest abortion provider for contribution to the destruction of human lives, as well as the family. 

The campaign, said Jim Sedlack, vice-president of ALL, is quite simply “a way of calling attention to the fact that this is a very bad organization.”

“Planned Parenthood is attacking the family, either by killing preborn children or by robbing the souls of the older children,” he said. 

A declaration that PP is an “enemy of the Church” would mean that Catholics who work with, advocate for, or support Planned Parenthood, incur automatic excommunication.

Such a declaration would not be unprecedented. Popes in the past have identified and condemned organizations that posed a grave threat to the Church, most recently Pope Pius XII in 1949 with Communism and Pope Clement XII in 1738 with Freemasonry.

While specifics would depend on the wording of the Papal pronouncement, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews if the Holy Father makes the declaration there would be no mistaking its intent.

“When the pope makes the declaration it becomes crystal clear,” Sedlak said. “There’ll be no shades of gray, it’ll be black and white, it’ll be clear to the world.”

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'Now is the time'

There are still people who are not fully aware of the extent of the societal damage inflicted by Planned Parenthood, said Sedlak, including members of the Church hierarchy. He said it’s important to emphasize the truth of what the abortion giant does.

“That’s why we’re focusing on the enemy,” said Sedlak. “When people really stop and focus on Planned Parenthood, they realize it’s the enemy.”

ALL cites Planned Parenthood’s targeting of children to sexualize them as a major cause of the destruction of the family and a fundamental reason for the Defend the Family campaign.

“They really push for getting young people into lives of sexual sin,” Sedlak said. “Young people who aren’t pulled into sexual activity do not provide a cent of income to Planned Parenthood, but young people who are pulled in provide millions of dollars to the Planned Parenthood empire.”

ALL compiled a comprehensive report on Planned Parenthood titled, “The Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood,” as part of the Defend the Family campaign.

“The document builds the case,” said Sedlak. “Why Planned Parenthood, why now is the time.”

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that for its part Planned Parenthood has always recognized that its greatest enemy is the Catholic Church, even working to have the Church lose its status at the UN.

“They fight anybody who wants to take sex away from the kids in any way possible,” Sedlak said. “That’s one reason why Planned Parenthood is the sex mafia.”

And when Sedlak uses the term “mafia,” he means it literally, pointing out that the Holy Father condemned the mafia in his June 21, 2014, homily in Calabria, Italy, denouncing its, “Adoration of evil and contempt for the common good.”

“Planned Parenthood kills far more people than the mafia,” Sedlak said.

Also underscoring the need for the Vatican to act on declaring Planned Parenthood an enemy of the Church, is the convening of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family this October in Rome, which will lead into the general synod in 2015.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that these, along with the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, are events that ALL will rally around to raise awareness of the Defend the Family campaign.

Preliminary response to the campaign has been very positive, he said.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that the “Vatican can help save souls from Planned Parenthood” report was so well received upon initial presentation to Vatican officials, that ALL was asked to translate it into three more languages.

“The support we’ve gotten from talking to bishops has been overwhelming,” Sedlak said.

Prayer is priority #1

The Defend the Family campaign consists first and foremost of prayer, Sedlak told LifeSiteNews.

“Our approach is that we need prayer support,” he said. “The only way that we’re going to succeed is through prayer to the Blessed Mother; the only way it will succeed is if God wants it to succeed.”

Participants are asked to say regular prayers after Mass, to offer prayers for the pope and to initiate communication with local bishops about the dangers that Planned Parenthood poses to the faithful.

Sedlak also added that The Defend the Family campaign is for everyone, not just Catholics.

He said pro-life supporters of all faith traditions are invited to contact ALL for assistance in encouraging their religious denomination or church leader to declare Planned Parenthood an enemy.

In addition to prayers for the campaign, ALL is asking people to sign and submit ALL’s Declaration of Encouragement to the Holy Father, enroll in the Spiritual Bouquet for the Holy Father and to share ALL resources on Planned Parenthood.

Information, links and resources are available on the campaign website, defendthefamily.org.

Sedlak told LifeSiteNews that ALL is giving the success of the Defend the Family campaign up to God.

“This is all happening in God’s time, and so far he’s been blessing us mightily,” Sedlak said. “And we’re going to go wherever God takes us.”

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