In 2013, pro-life fight shifts to the states
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life movement intends to transform the political landscape over the next four years with successful measures sweeping through statehouses across the nation, according to pro-life leaders and a prominent Republican strategist.
The last two years have witnessed more pro-life laws than any time since the advent of abortion-on-demand mandated by Roe v. Wade. In all, lawmakers enacted 83 such measures in 2011 and 43 last year.
“Over the past two years, we have had 2,500 requests for AUL [Americans United for Life] model legislation,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, the organization's president, at a conference the organization held at the National Press Club on Thursday.
AUL's most popular measures deal with defunding abortion providers and reinforcing conscience rights, she said.
Legislation winding its way through states from Georgia to Idaho is “dramatically changing the contours of abortion policy in this country” in the level of government that is “closest to the people.”
The new stratagem is both a practical response to and a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the national government, for the next four years, is in enemy hands.
“We really won't see much if anything happen at the national level in the next several years, although we will try,” Dr. Yoest said.
Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, told the group of several hundred leaders, “I wish we could look at great advances in federal legislation and executive orders and judicial appointments,” but “I think it's pretty obvious that's unlikely.”
The judicial branch, which imposed the abortion-on-demand regime on the United States, could tilt even further away from the unborn, making it an unreliable source of change.
At the Supreme Court “at best it's 5-4 against us, with Justice Kennedy and the four Democratic nominees” supporting Roe v. Wade, said Ed Whalen, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a blogger at NRO.
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Among those rumored to retire from the bench during the next four years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is perhaps the court's most ardent supporter of abortion, having spent most of the 1970s as an ACLU attorney.
But should Justice Antonin Scalia, 76, step down, that would dramatically shift the balance of the court against life, Whalen said.
Barack Obama will also appoint the federal judiciary, from which future justices are drawn.
That does not mean the movement should have no agenda on the federal level, though, said the leaders.
Kristol encouraged participants to protect the unborn “incrementally, yet in a principled way.”
Kristol – whose father, Irving, was one of the founders of the Neoconservative movement – is not often associated with the pro-life wing of the Republican Party.
“Holding the line and winning what small victories one can is underrated, I would say generally, in politics,” he offered.
“I think in practice over the next 2, 3, 4 years a lot of realistic, incremental, modest things have to be attempted,” he suggested. “Some will work. Others won't work so well.”
Turning back the Obama administration's most radical goals – such as the HHS mandate, which he called “an unbelievable overreach” – is well within Republicans' means, he said.
The Obama administration's decision to target religious liberty irks some of Kristol's Democratic friends. One told him after speaking with officials inside the White House, “They know what they're doing. They think it's a winning fight.”
“Defending religious freedom is in a sense easier,” Kristol added. “Just as a practical political matter, it requires one to make less ambitious arguments.”
The Supreme Court's 9-0 decision upholding religious freedom in the Hosanna v. Tabor case, which was supported even by the newly appointed Elena Kagan and fellow Obama appointee Sonia Sotomayor, illustrates the limits of left-wing successes in attacking religious freedom.
“The intellectual problems they're having will result in they're having political problems... maybe not in the very far future,” Kristol said.
Meanwhile, politicians like Rick Perry of Texas, Phil Bryant of Mississippi, and Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall have laid out ambitious pro-life goals for 2013.
“We don't need the White House for the fifth decade of fighting Roe,” Dr. Yoest said.