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 40 Days for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The pro-life movement is rightfully praising Donald Trump for disqualifying abortion facilities from receiving Title X family planning funds. The welcome change is the latest in a long line of actions that make Trump arguably the strongest pro-life president America has ever had.

That said, it’s important not to oversell the accomplishment, or let a marginal improvement lull us into a sense of complacency.

Reading through the various statements from pro-life groups celebrating Trump’s recent move, a troubling theme emerges:​

  • “President Trump has kept his promise to protect the lives of the unborn and to ensure the abortion industry is no longer supported by taxpayers.”​
  • “The pro-life grassroots will be pleased to see President Trump deliver on yet another pro-life promise…”​
  • “President Trump has shown decisive leadership, delivering on a key promise to pro-life voters who worked so hard to elect him…”​
  • “Donald Trump pledged to defund Planned Parenthood because of its involvement in promoting and performing abortions. Today he has kept that promise…”

All these statements make it sound like Trump has completed his promise to defund Planned Parenthood, when in reality Title X only accounts for around a tenth of its federal funding. You know, the funding our pro-life Congress and White House agreed to continue just two months ago.

That’s not to say they meant to suggest otherwise, of course; obviously they’ll continue to support cutting the rest. But the fact remains that language like “has kept” or “has delivered” conveys a distinct sense of completion, as if this is the most progress we can expect for the time being.

But it’s not the most we can do right now. Not even close.

Multiple versions of full defunding legislation have been introduced in the current session of Congress, one of which has already passed the House of Representatives. Yet it’s barely even discussed anymore, largely because the powers-that-be decided that attaching defunding to Obamacare repeal was our only shot to get it done…and we all know how that turned out.

Making those two causes depend on each other was a mistake, and there’s no reason not to correct it in the current session.

The Obamacare-linked efforts failed because in each case, at least one pro-life Republican objected to the healthcare side of the bill, not the abortion side. And as we saw when the Senate approved legislation allowing states to kick Planned Parenthood out of their own Title X programs, pro-life bills can withstand two GOP defectors and still get a majority, thanks to Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote.

Of course, that brings us to another problem: the fact that the Senate’s ostensibly pro-life leadership chooses to give the pro-abortion minority veto power over most bills, via filibuster rules that require 60 votes for passage. Never mind that those rules aren't in the Constitution, violate the Founders’ intentions, and, as Ted Cruz points out, Democrats will almost certainly abolish them anyway once they regain power.

Did you know that in the very first month of Trump’s presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told House pro-lifers not to even bother sending him abortion bills, because they wouldn’t get 60 votes and he wasn’t willing to change the filibuster? You might not, because it went almost completely ignored by professional pro-lifers. Worse, after months of congressional failure, several leading organizations confirmed they were still either neutral on or opposed to filibuster reform.

Really? Our first pro-life united government in a decade, and we’re not going to use every tool at our disposal to save as many lives as we can, defund Planned Parenthood as much as humanly possible, before the very real possibility of the abortion lobby retaking at least part of Congress this fall?

Pro-life groups recognized that pro-life voters are dissatisfied with Congress’ lack of results through predictions that the Title X change would “energize the grassroots as we head into the critical midterm elections.” But it would be suicidal to assume marginal regulations will be enough, after years of promising that pro-lifers would finally see laws changed if they gave the GOP Congress and the White House.

Now’s not the time to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner and hope the current session’s middling results somehow deliver a Senate supermajority in 2018. Now’s the time to press forward on the bills they touted on the campaign trail, fight for the rule reforms to give them a fighting chance, and confront whether our current leaders are up for the job.

In other words, now’s the time to demand that our leaders truly fulfill the promises that won them their last election.

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Calvin Freiburger is a Wisconsin-based conservative writer and 2011 graduate of Hillsdale College. His commentary and analysis have been featured on NewsReal Blog, Live Action, and various other conservative websites. Before joining LifeSiteNews, he spent two years in Washington, DC, working to build support for the Life at Conception Act with the National Pro-Life Alliance, then worked a year and a half as assistant editor of You can follow him on Twitter @CalFreiburger, and check out his personal website,