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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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. 

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