Kathleen Gilbert

Historic amendment to defund Planned Parenthood passes overwhelmingly in House

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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February 18, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a historic vote Friday afternoon, the US House voted to strike all federal funding for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Every year the abortion giant receives hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funding.

The congressional body voted 240-185 in favor of the amendment, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), to the 2011 Federal Spending Bill.

Immediately after the vote Rep. Pence released a statement saying: “This afternoon’s vote is a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life. By banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood, Congress has taken a stand for millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America.

“I commend my colleagues in both parties for taking a stand for taxpayers and a stand for life.”

The amendment will now go before the Senate.

The vote came after a heated debate in the House. It also comes in the wake of an explosive series of videos released over the last two weeks by the pro-life organization Live Action, which showed Planned Parenthood staff repeatedly willing to aid and abet the trafficking of underage “sex workers” by offering advice to an undercover investigator posing as a “pimp” on how to obtain secret abortions, contraception, and STD tests.

In a web page released right after the vote, Planned Parenthood called the legislation “the most dangerous legislative assault in our history, and it cannot go unanswered.” In an open letter to Congress that the organization is asking supporters to sign, the abortion giant says: “To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, blasted the vote.

“The new anti-choice House leadership promised a jobs agenda and is now waging a war on contraception,” Keenan said. “These lawmakers are out of control, and we will hold them accountable for their actions.”

In a statement Tony Perkins of Family Research Council congratulated the House and Rep. Pence: “Planned Parenthood, a scandal-plagued abortion organization, must be held accountable for abusing innocent young victims while receiving hundreds of millions in federal dollars each year.”

“The fact that Planned Parenthood not only left minor girls trapped in prostitution, but encouraged it, shows an incredible lack of humanity on their part. What goes on behind the windowless offices of Planned Parenthood, as Live Action’s videos show, is both saddening and shocking, but the fact that it has often been done with taxpayer dollars is indefensible.”

Lila Rose, the President of Live Action, issued a statement turning the attention of pro-life advocates to the coming battle in the Senate.  “The case to cease funding is crystal clear,” she said. “But for any Senator who remains unsure, imagine explaining to your constituents that you voted to keep sending $350 million of their tax dollars to an ‘non-profit’ that puts young girls in harm’s way and made $63 million in profits by performing over 300,000 abortions last year. It’s time once and for all to stop financing these activities.”

At some times poignant, at others openly bitter, House lawmakers on Thursday night went head-to-head over the momentous amendment.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), a top pro-life leader in the House, described the conversion of former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson when she was confronted with the reality of how an abortion kills a child.

“Despite the best and slickest market branding money can buy, the stubborn fact remains that Planned Parenthood clinics are among the most dangerous places on earth for a child,” said Smith. “Not only does Planned Parenthood vigorously lobby and litigate against parental notification and consent laws—thus enabling secret abortions for very, very young girls—but now we‘ve learned from recent undercover taped investigations at several of its clinics ... that Planned Parenthood employees were found to be more than eager to assist people posing as sex traffickers to procure abortions for underage girls.”

In an emotional rebuttal, Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier of California said that she “lost a baby” to “that procedure that you just talked about,” and that “to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought, is preposterous.”

“Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. Last time I checked, abortions were legal in this country,” she said in a speech that won applause.

A number of other pro-abortion Democrat House lawmakers defended the abortion giant, saying that stopping its taxpayer funding “will risk the lives and safetly of millions of American women.” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-CA) argued that stripping family planning funds was actually detrimental to taxpayers.

“For every dollar invested in family planning services, taxpayers save four dollars,” said Slaughter, presumably following the same logic as PPFA president Cecile Richards and former Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who have argued that allowing fewer people to be born means less cost to the government to support them.

The amendment’s future remains uncertain: while the majority of the U.S. Senate remains in Democrat hands, some moderate members may be persuaded to side with the funding cut. Following the amendment’s success in the House, Rep. Pence called on members of the upper chamber to finish the job. “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to support this legislation and end federal funding of Planned Parenthood once and for all,” he said in a statement.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for your support. 

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