PictureJanet Napolitano
FBI terrorism task force targets a pro-life leader & people begin to wonder if the Obama administration needs to learn a thing or two about religious liberty

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 31, 2013)

When US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in 2009 that the “opponents of abortion" are likely to engage in extremism, and included pro-life activists on a list of possible terrorist threats, she engendered a wave of backlash. Many religious groups felt not a little trepidation at the prospect of being lumped together with violent suicide bombers simply for planting their feet on the opposite side of the Obama administration regarding the issue of abortion. Some felt that the statements made by Napolitano were indicative of a growing tendency on the part of the administration to heavy-handedly counter traditional Christian virtues.

This opposition to their work was keenly felt by those involved with crisis pregnancy centers, (CPCs) of which there are an estimated 2,500 in the US today. These clinics offer varied services to women facing unplanned pregnancies. Some provide medical assistance like ultrasounds and pregnancy tests, free of charge, while others offer only resources and counseling. All are dedicated to promoting the value of life, discouraging abortion, and educating women about parenting and adoption options.

Sadly, it seems that Napolitano’s threatening tone towards the non-profit work of CPCs was only the precursor to a steady wave of intimidation tightening around the pro-life movement. The latest in a string of incidents involving pro-life leaders being harassed by government agencies, it was revealed this week that the FBI terrorism task force has called in the national director of a chain of CPCs “for questioning.” According to LifeSiteNews,

“Agents of Joint Domestic Terrorism Task Force told Chris Slattery, national director of Expectant Mother Care (EMC) FrontLine Pregnancy Centers, only that they wanted to meet him ‘for a mutually beneficial relationship.’

‘In other words, if I don't meet with them, it will not be beneficial for me,’ Slattery joked. ‘I'm not sure what I'm going to get out of it.’ ”

The summons from the FBI comes as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has subpoenaed Slattery’s group for not abiding by the standards of a consent agreement that Slattery says he believes expired more than 20 years ago.

Why does an FBI terrorism task force feel the need to go after peaceful, non-profit, domestic, religious, care groups? Slattery says he doesn’t know, but that “if the President orders them to do something, they have to do it.”

Last spring, the Justice Department was forced to drop charges against pro-life counselor Susan Pine and pay $120,000 of taxpayer money in attorneys’ fees when a judge ruled she had been wrongly accused of trespassing on property belonging to an abortion clinic. Her attorneys argued that Pine, a post-abortive pro-life activist was being targeted in a concerted effort by the Obama administration to silence sidewalk counselors. It seems they managed to convince Judge Kenneth Ryskamp, who wrote,

The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government and the [abortion clinic], which began well before the date of the incident at issue, to quell Ms. Pine’s activities rather than to vindicate the rights of those allegedly aggrieved by Ms. Pine’s conduct.”  

One particularly interesting case involving a pro-life activist facing government pressure is that of AbortionWiki founder Andy Moore, who was visited by FBI agents last summer after the administrators of a late-term abortion clinic complained about his use of a bullhorn on the sidewalk outside of their facilities. Moore claims the agents pressured him to expose the inner workings of the pro-life movement and made indirect threats to separate him from his wife and family through imprisonment or deportation.

Aside from the horrendous impropriety of the FBI’s alleged actions, the soul of the controversy can perhaps best be realized by a video of the incident that provoked the initial complaint. The footage shows Andy standing on the sidewalk, reading off a list of facts describing the gestational growth of a human fetus. He concludes his reading by saying, “I just want everyone in there to know that I have nothing but love for you in my heart.”

After a time, Andy is called aside by police, who inform him that a city ordinance prohibits the use of a megaphone within 150 feet of a hospital. A trifle embarrassed, perhaps, Andy puts his megaphone away and resumes his activities without it. In his strong New Zealand accent, he says, “I just want you all to know that there are other options available, even in this last minute. I believe sincerely that women deserve better than abortion.”

How strongly do you have to believe in something to be willing to stand alone on the street and proclaim it through a megaphone to a crowd that actively disagrees with you and will almost certainly be extremely offended by your words?

What if you really do believe in it that strongly?

What if you really do believe that abortion is murder and that every woman who walks through the doors of the clinic in front of you is going in to take part in the murder of a child and will be coming out with a wound that will haunt her for the rest of her life? And if you really do believe that, how unloving to do you have to be to refuse to do everything within your power to prevent those abortions from occurring?

Atheist Penn Jillette, perhaps, says it best in a moving video about Christian evangelization. “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize,” he says. “If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell and that people could be going to hell, or not, and having eternal life…how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

Regardless of how you feel about abortion, or the existence of God, or any other system of belief, it is a self-evident truth that faith is morally compelling. There are things that, if you sincerely believe them, compel you to take certain actions. It is for this reason that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are foundational American principles. Unfortunately, they are principles that the Obama administration doesn’t seem to understand.  

(First posted at The Washington Times Communities.)

A mentally handicapped woman who narrowly escaped a forced abortion in Nevada has delivered a healthy baby

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 13, 2012)

In November of last year, the case of mentally-handicapped Elisa Bauer attracted nationwide attention when a Reno, Nevada judge asserted that he had the right to force the Catholic woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization against her will.

Elisa Bauer of Washoe County is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Adopted by William and Amy Bauer in 1992, Elisa is an epileptic who reportedly has the mental and social capacities of a six-year-old. Her parents, who retained their guardianship over her and had legal authority to make final decisions concerning her health and welfare, sympathized with Elisa’s insistence on carrying the baby to term, and had six qualified couples lined up, who were eager to adopt the baby, even if he or she turned out to be a special needs child. The parents were also providing Bauer with appropriate pre-natal care for a high-risk pregnancy.

However, when Washoe County Social Services expressed their concern that Bauer’s pregnancy would be detrimental to her health and that of her then-unborn baby, the case went to court, where Judge Egan Walker reportedly asserted, “I have inherent authority to [override the wishes of Elisa’s parents] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court.” The court-summoned doctor recommended abortion and sterilization in no uncertain terms, stating, “End this pregnancy and tie her tubes.”

Fortunately for the Bauer family, the story prompted outrage across the nation, as readers scrambled to file petitions and place phone calls and express their views in strong terms. Kirsten Anderson of LifeSiteNews, who originally broke the story, writes,

“The stories we posted about the case spread like wildfire around Facebook and Twitter.  Readers were understandably horrified that something like this could happen in America.  They wanted to know what they could do to stop it. Rebekah O’Brien, our social media coordinator, suggested they call the judge’s office and make their voices heard.  She provided his contact information.  Our readers filled his voicemail box with messages until the system couldn’t store any more.  After that, they called the governor. That was about the time the court started changing its tone.”

Elisa’s adoptive father, William Bauer, wrote on the facebook support page, Save Elisa’s Baby,

“Even though the judge proclaimed that our religious views were of no effect in his courtroom; even though the judge clipped our statements and said he wanted only expert opinions; even though he brought in several experts, including lawyers, who wanted death for the baby; even though the judge treated us parents as if we sat on the stoop of our trailer eating pork and beans out of the can and watching re-runs of He Haw... Elisa's baby won a right to be born. Our attorney, supplied by the Thomas More Foundation and by another pro-life group, arranged a mediated conclusion to the treachery planned. We gave up our guardianship in trade for the life of our grandchild. The due date is May 11, 2013. The baby appears normal, and, since Elisa's retardation is not genetic, the baby will probably have normal intelligence.”

On May 2nd, Elisa Bauer gave birth to Cierra Marie, a healthy, full-term baby. The Bauer family’s lawyer, Jason Guinasso, wrote, “She is sweet and good natured.  By all measures, she is perfectly healthy and sublimely beautiful.”  Guinasso said that a loving adoptive family has been identified for baby Cierra, adding, “I can't adequately express how seeing her face makes my heart full.”

(This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
Pro-life protest on the US Supreme Court steps

40 years after the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling, where does America stand on abortion -- and how did
we get here?

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on April 27, 2013)

Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973, when the passage of Roe v. Wade divided the nation on lines that still separate the champions of unborn life from the advocates of the woman’s right to choose. For a generation of young adults who have no memory of the years before abortion was legal, it may seem that this conflict is interminable and has no end. However, while the battle is still raging as fiercely as ever, in recent years some signs have appeared that seem to indicate a shift in the tide of popular opinion.

In 2009, a Gallup poll indicated that the majority of American adults were identifying as pro-life, rather than pro-choice. Gallup commented, “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.” Since that date, subsequent polls show that the pro-life majority has remained more or less constant.

What occasioned the shift? While it’s hard to say for certain, it’s undeniable that technological advances have enabled physicians and ultrasound technicians to gain more understanding than ever before of the nature of life inside the womb. 3D ultrasounds allow parents to see lifelike photographs of their unborn children and the vast accumulation of medical experience that has occurred since 1973 points relentlessly to the complexity and humanity of the fetus.

Disillusionment with the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, may also have something to do with the trend towards cultural acceptance of the pro-life message. Virgina-based student activist group, Live Action, started by then-fifteen-year-old Lila Rose, has generated nation-wide media coverage with their videos exposing Planned Parenthood corruption. Other reports from former Planned Parenthood employees have drawn attention to the massive fraud perpetrated against taxpayers by the abortion giant.

However, it is not far-fetched to surmise that the biggest factor influencing this astonishing and even unexpected trend is the accumulated testimony of hundreds who have come out of the abortion industry or have experienced abuse at its hands. From abortion survivors to post-abortive women, to former employees of abortion providers, to victims of botched abortions at the hands of physicians like Kermit Gosnell, the cries proclaiming the brutality of the industry have becoming impossible to ignore.

Nurse Kathleen Malloy of Jacksonville Florida writes of her own experiences in this disturbing fashion,

“I worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, and when we weren’t busy, I’d go out to help with the newborns. One night I saw a bassinet outside the nursery. There was a baby in this bassinet – a crying, perfectly formed baby – but there was a difference in this child. She had been scalded. She was the child of a saline abortion.

This little girl looked as if she had been put in a pot of boiling water. No doctor, no nurse, no parent, to comfort this hurt, burned child. She was left alone to die in pain. They wouldn’t let her in the nursery – they didn’t even bother to cover her. I was ashamed of my profession that night! It’s hard to believe this can happen in our modern hospitals, but it does. It happens all the time. I thought a hospital was a place to heal the sick – not a place to kill. While doctors will go to extraordinary lengths to save the lives of premature babies such as these, babies born alive during abortions at the same age are left to die.

I asked a nurse at another hospital what they do with their babies that are aborted by saline. Unlike my hospital, where the baby was left alone struggling for breath, their hospital puts the infant in a bucket and puts the lid on. Suffocation! Death by suffocation!”

Supporters of legal abortion are quick to dismiss such heartbreaking anecdotes as addressing circumstances unique to late-term abortions, which they tout as being only a miniscule portion of abortions performed in the US. However, it is a telling observation concerning the entire industry that it has repeatedly opposed all legislation restricting these brutal late-term abortions. In a shocking incident in March, a Planned Parenthood representative from Florida went so far as to voice support for “post-birth abortions.” Fortunately for humanity, the vast number of Americans don’t concur, and the majority seems to be slowly but surely pulling away from this callous attitude.

Last month, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced his long-awaited Life At Conception Act before the US Senate. Such bills have been ridiculed for years as useless, and dismissed as attempts on the part of politicians to pander to the pro-life voting bloc. But, despite the fact that Paul’s Life At Conception Act is unlikely to ever get a vote in the US Senate, there is still something different about this year’s bill.

What’s different is that this year, for the first time since the war on abortion became main-stream in the US, two states have already passed historic legislation stating that life begins at conception and that unborn persons must be afforded all of the rights and protections offered under the US Constitution to all persons.

Just a few years ago, it seemed this kind of legislation could never be passed. Yet Kansas’ bill was signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback last week, a testimony to how much can be done by dedicated activists with science on their side. The new law reads,

"On and after July 1, 2013, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state, subject only to the constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court.”

The new law bans abortion providers from providing sex-education materials for schools and from accessing public funds or tax breaks. It also requires doctors to provide material about fetal development and resources to help pregnant women. Additionally, the law bans sex-selective abortions.

North Dakota’s bill has not yet been signed by Governor Dalrymple, but provides for a statewide referendum to be on the ballot in 2014.

Obviously, neither of the bills directly address the issue of banning abortion entirely. Legislators say they are hoping the new language will prompt a lawsuit that will end up at the Supreme Court level and result in the annulment of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling. That they’ve made it that far is a cause for great jubilation in the ranks of the pro-life movement, and serious consternation among the supporters of legal abortion.

(First posted at The Washington Times Communities.)

How NYC Mayor Bloomberg's "big sugary drinks" ban has received a serious setback -- and why that's good for the American people

(posted by Bryana Johnson on March 14, 2013)

I’ve never found occasion to drink a 16 ounce soda in my life, much less one of those newly controversial Big Gulp sizes, which yesterday narrowly escaped being rendered illegal in New York City. Indeed, I consider the regular consumption of such beverages not only ill-advised and unwise but probably irresponsible as well. However, the fact that I am no fan of the Big Gulp does not prevent me from being a wholehearted supporter of Judge Milton Tingling’s ruling this Monday.

Judge Tingling’s strongly-worded statement on the legality of big sugary drinks was a long-awaited response to NYC mayor Bloomberg’s “sugary drink ban.” The mayor caused an uproar several months ago when he announced the ban that was to have gone into effect yesterday. The New York Daily News reports the rule would have banned sales of sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, movie theaters, pushcarts and sports arenas.

A large number of businesses were annoyed. So were a large number of people. Including some who, like me, don’t even buy big sugary drinks. What’s all the fuss about? Well, it comes down to one word: responsibility.

Whereas we, in traditionally American fashion, think it’s the responsibility of the individual to make their own choices about health, Bloomberg thinks that responsibility is just one more in an ever-increasing number of responsibilities that belong to the government. That he holds this view is made especially evident by a recent statement he issued in defense of the ban:

“With so many people contracting diabetes and heart disease,
” said the mayor. “With so many children who are overweight and obese, with so many poor neighborhoods suffering the worst of this epidemic . . . it would be irresponsible not to.”

Really? Because people are irresponsible and reckless and sometimes plain dumb, it would be irresponsible not to pass regulations determining how much liquid sugar they are allowed to drink at one time? If history were a testimony to the general rightness of government authority, Bloomberg might have himself a case. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is true.

Even regarding matters of health, our own government has historically proven itself to be no reliable authority – even in very recent years. One simple example is the infamous “food pyramid” we all grew up with as children. Our governing bodies spent our money touting this diagram that purported to show the quintessential nutritional diet. It was drilled into our heads from kindergarten. We thought it was true.

But it isn’t, and it never has been. Nutritionists have known that for years now. In the past couple of years, First Lady Michelle Obama has been spearheading an effort to overhaul the food pyramid and replace it with a new diagram entirely. Rough luck for all those taxpayers who had to contribute for twenty years to a nutrition campaign that claimed 6 to 11 servings of straight carbohydrates were essential to a healthy diet.

Am I suggesting that big sugary drinks might not be unhealthy after all? Of course not. The point is that governments make mistakes too, and it isn’t their responsibility to make our health decisions for us. Especially since they aren’t even very good at it. The NYC ban on sugary drinks is objectionable because it bolsters the false and dangerous idea that such interference on the part of our local and federal authorities is acceptable and to be expected.

“They’re soft drinks,” berate those undaunted believers in the power of the state to save the world. They roll their eyes. “We’re not talking about taking away something that anyone could possibly need to have.” It’s true. We’re not.

But what we are talking about is laying yet another straw on the back of the camel of personal freedom. What we are talking about is one more affirmation of the authority of government officials to determine what the ideal life looks like. It’s a reinforcement of the already too-prevalent belief that the stupidity of mankind in general must be mitigated by the surpassing wisdom of the officials they have elected to positions of power. What we are talking about is little green frogs submerged in a saucepan with wide smiles on their faces, simmering, bubbling, boiling away.

Fortunately, we don’t have to talk about it anymore, for a time at least. Calling the decision “arbitrary and capricious,” Judge Tingling rendered it invalid on Monday, adding that while the Health Board can promote rules to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, it has no power to deal with obesity. Only the City Council has that power, he ruled, explaining, “One of the fundamental tenets of democratic governance here in New York, as well as throughout the nation, is the separation of powers. . . . No one person, agency, department or branch is above or beyond this.”

Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to appeal the court’s ruling, stating,

“Anytime you adopt a groundbreaking policy, special interests will sue. That’s America. We believe that the judge’s decision was clearly in error, and that we will prevail.”

“People are dying every day. This is not a joke,” he went on. “We’re talking about lives versus profits.”

Mayor Bloomberg did get one thing right: we are talking about lives. The issue is that the American people want to live theirs according to their own choices and Mayor Bloomberg thinks he should be the one making the choices for everyone.

(Article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)

Does the new birth control mandate "compromise" really do anything to protect religious freedom?

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 5, 2013)

The Obama administration sparked a massive controversy last year when it was announced that a new federal mandate would require all health insurers and employers to include coverage in their health plans for every form of contraception approved by the FDA. The mandate also required coverage for sterilizations.

Faith groups who teach against the use of contraceptives became immediately fearful that such a mandate would force violations of conscience. Some Catholics view every form of contraceptive use as sinful. A far broader base of Christian people accepts the use of most contraceptives but opposes the use of abortifacient “emergency contraception,” like the “morning-after pill.”

Unfortunately, the Obama administration did little to allay their fears. While the mandate included a religious exemption, it only applied to church organizations themselves. It did not apply to church-affiliated non-profit institutions, such as hospitals, or to employers. An amendment was proposed that would have made provisions for employers to “refuse to include contraception in health care coverage if it violated their religious or moral beliefs.” The Blunt Amendment was voted down 51-48 by the U.S. Senate last March.

Between then and now, nothing much has changed. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Unites States Supreme Court, the Christian owners of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby announced at the beginning of this year that they would refuse to add the contraceptive coverage to their employee insurance plan. According to NPR, their attorney stated that they consider the emergency contraceptives “tantamount to abortion.” The company faced up to $1.3 million a day in fines for defying the mandate. Two weeks later, however, it was learned they had discovered a way to delay the fines. Peter M. Dobelbower, the company's general counsel, stated, “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.” But their time is running out.

Late last week, the Obama administration released a new version of the infamous birth-control mandate. Religious and pro-life groups were hoping the new regulations would spell out broader conscience rights for employers – like the Hobby Lobby owners – and institutions whose faith prohibits them from funding sterilization and various forms of contraception. Sadly, after examining the altered version of the mandate, pro-life legal groups have bad news. The new proposal barely changes existing policy and still allows for no business or individual opt-out, they say.

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO and President of Americans United for Life, stated Friday, “With another phony compromise, the Obama Administration continues to insult the intelligence of the American people and trample our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.”

LifeNews reports of the new proposal that it will not have any impact on businesses run by people of faith, such as Bible publisher Tyndale House or Hobby Lobby. They also explain that it provides no options for individuals seeking plans that accommodate their values on the exchanges.”

So, what does the new proposal do? Well, the only major difference for people of faith seems to be that the religious exemption has been modified so that it no longer specifies that churches must have “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people of their same faith in order to qualify for the exemption.

This doesn’t sound like much of a concession, once you get down to it. The change only broadens the definition of a church for the purposes of the exemption, and does nothing to protect the conscience rights of for-profit employers and individuals. 

The absurdity of this state of affairs is truly remarkable. To state it plainly, the Obama administration has conceded the right of churches to opt-out of participating in the funding of procedures their faith prohibits, but won’t provide the means for members of these same churches to avoid violating the dictates of their faith in their workplaces. What is the point of protecting the rights of a church as an institution and then trampling the rights of the individuals that comprise that same institution?

The United Nations Flag

The controversial UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is pushing for a September vote in the US Senate

(Posted by Bryana Johnson on September 20, 2012)

At the end of July, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a controversial UN treaty: The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), which has been fought by family rights groups and defenders of US sovereignty for months. What exactly are the concerns being raised by the opponents of the UNCRPD? The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) summarizes them succinctly in a helpful list which breaks down the most disturbing elements of the treaty’s wording.

While one of their main concerns is the sovereignty issue raised in Article 4(1)(a), which demands that all American law on the subject be conformed to the standards of the UN, implied threats to parental rights are their biggest fear.  They explain on their website,

“Article 7(2) [which states that ‘in all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’] advances the identical standard for the control of children with disabilities as is contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that the government—acting under UN directives—gets to determine for all children with disabilities what the government thinks is best.

Additionally, under current American law, federal law requires public schools to offer special assistance to children with disabilities. However, no parent is required to accept such assistance. Under this section the government—and not the parent—would have the ultimate authority to determine if a child with special needs will be homeschooled, attend a private school, or be required to accept the program offered by the public school.”

At the bottom of this heap of words lies a question hidden like a neon-orange hunter’s jersey walking around in a green field. Whose responsibility will it be to determine what is in the best interests of a disabled child? This is the question with the frightening answer that changes everything.

The HSLDA has also called attention to Article 4(1)(e), which demands that “ every person, organization, or private enterprise” must eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. “On its face,” warns the HSLDA, “this means that every home owner would have to make their own home fully accessible to those with disabilities. If the UN wants to make exceptions, perhaps they could. But, on its face this is the meaning of the treaty.”

There were nine total witnesses at the July hearing which was held by Sen. John Kerry. Only two people opposed to the treaty were permitted to testify. These were Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation and Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association. 

Farris expressed his concern, calling the hearing “a carefully-orchestrated attempt to get this treaty ratified without any serious consideration, adding,It appears some in the Senate are counting on citizens’ ignorance of the Constitution. [They are] trying to downplay the impact of this treaty by arguing that ‘a treaty is an empty promise with no actual substance.’ Wrong. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution overrules State Laws if it is ratified.”

Judging by the extensive video footage of the hearing, Sen. Kerry did indeed imply that the treaty would not place legal restrictions on the US, stating, “since the treaty is not self-executing in the United States, it’s hard for me to understand, given the reservations and declarations and understandings, there would be a change needed.” 

However, Mr. Farris’ understanding of the matter appears to be the correct one, under this provision of the US Constitution:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

It’s hard to see how that very lucid passage leaves any room for further debate regarding the binding nature of the UNCRPD, if ratified by the US Congress – even if it could be shown to make any ethical or logical sense to sign treaties that we don’t intend to abide by in the first place.

Following the Senate Committee Hearing and the subsequent ratification of the treaty by the Committee, there ensued a period of rest for the embattled partisans on both sides of the UNCRPD debate. This week, however, the issue reared its head again, with Tim Lambert of the Texas Homeschool Coalition sending out an alert warning that the convention is pushing for a September Senate vote on the treaty and urging defenders of liberty to not only contact their senators’ offices via phone but to visit them in person in order to stress the magnitude of the situation.

(This piece was first posted at The Communities at the Washington Times)

President Obama

Why President Obama's very commitment to smooth Julia's way might be the biggest danger to her LIBERTY

(Posted by Bryana Joy on May 14, 2012)

President Obama’s newest campaign tool has been providing laughs all week in conservative circles. This is hardly surprising, as The Life of Julia meme, in addition to being short-sighted and factually inaccurate, almost seems to have been made for ridicule. There’s something in it for everyone to laugh at, and although not everyone can agree on just what it is that’s wrong with the poor Julia’s life, everyone agrees that something is wrong.

A little perusal of the web results in a smorgasbord of takes concerning the debacle of Julia from conservative bloggers and columnists. The most prominent of these seem to be:

Julia gets some awesome benefits, but the national debt skyrockets as a result of them, leaving her future uncertain

Julia has a better life under conservative leadership

Julia gets some awesome benefits alright, but she doesn’t represent the average American woman.

Julia gets some awesome benefits, but what about the men in her life?

Julia gets no awesomeness and no benefits.

Julia gets some awesome benefits and you and I pay for them.

The Obama campaign failed to consider some less desirable things that Julia will get

Julia may or may not get awesome benefits, but the whole thing is so laughable I don’t even want to think about it! Make the stupid people go awayyy…..

Julia gets some awesome benefits…..for a citizen in an Orwellian 1984 regime.

Upon further consideration, what Julia gets isn’t that awesome after all.

A number of these conservative responses are spot-on and insightful and even many liberals have weighed in against the Obama campaign on this one, but I’d like to spend a few moments considering a possibility for the Julia saga that I’m not seeing discussed as much as I’d like to, and that I think may be the most likely possibility of all:

What if Julia gets some awesome benefits for the price of her liberty?

Let’s suppose for a moment that the highly improbable is, in fact, true: that the champions of fiscal sanity and personal responsibility are wrong and that President Obama is not only altruistic but also correct in his figuring and that Julia gets awesome benefits. Let us suppose that Julia gets government money to be enrolled in a
Head Start program and that the program actually works and improves her three-year-old learning skills immensely, vaulting her into the world of grade school education with a bang. Let us suppose that Julia’s high school gets government money via Obama’s new Race to the Top program which also shocks everyone by actually working. Let us suppose that this money really does improve her SAT scores and that Julia also qualifies for President Obama’s American Opportunity tax credit and a Pell Grant, breezing through college, except for a short interlude during which she undergoes surgery that is covered by Obama’s healthcare plan.

And so on.

In short, let us suppose that everything goes right for Julia as she waltzes through life under the protective shadow of her government’s wings. Even so – even in this very unlikely paradise of Obama’s to which we have committed Julia – I would not want what Julia has, for Julia has got all of this at the expense of the most precious civil right she possesses:
her right to be right when the government is wrong.

Because it’s all well and good to be dependent on an altruistic governmental system you adore. If you are of one mind with your nation’s ruling powers, there is, theoretically, little reason to object to the concept of a shared money-bag and no fear of a future state of involuntary servitude to scare you away from the benefits of having all things in common.

The question is, what about when the system that claims a desire to nurture and nourish you is one with which you fundamentally disagree? Is it truly wise or even sane to support the burgeoning and swelling of such a system by feeding into its open jaws more and more responsibility for your life?

The question is, how is Julia going to break away from her protector and her supplier when he demands of her things she cannot in good conscience do? And the answer is that we don’t have to look far to find ample examples of the bondage that results from a people’s exaggerated dependence upon their government. 

How is Julia going to respond when her healthcare provider insists that her web design company pay
for her employees’ abortions or allocates her funds for the purpose of research utilizing aborted fetal cells? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s health or Julia’s conscience? What is she going to do when her privacy is violated by airport and train station security officials at every checkpoint? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s need to travel (to visit her aging parents, and to keep her job) or her privacy? What will she do when her children are subjected against her will through the public education system to ideological indoctrination concerning family, homosexuality, sex ed, political science, religion, history and everything in between? What will she do if she wishes to liberate her children from an education system she finds ineffective and abhorrent and to homeschool them but isn’t permitted to by her government? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s relatively comfortable lifestyle or Julia’s conscience and her children? 

I know not what course others may take, but it seems to me that handouts and awesome benefits pale in comparison with the freedom to think and to abide according to my convictions and to do business and raise children in the way that I see fit and to keep myself from becoming tethered to the manipulative and unstable monster that is government.

Upon further consideration, what Julia gets isn’t that great after all.

An abortion fund named after a....mythological baby-killing demon?

(Posted by Bryana Joy on April 16, 2012)

I engaged recently in a debate with a particularly vehement pro-choice feminist who concluded our argument rather huffily by letting me know that she was going to donate to a certain Lilith Fund as a result of the discussion in which we had expressed our differences of opinion. Appalled to hear that there was such an organization and assuring myself that it couldn’t really be what I thought it was, I immediately looked it up. Sure enough, the Lilith Fund is exactly what I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be: an abortion assistance fund operating in my home state of Texas.

My horror stemmed from the fact that I had a prior knowledge of the mythological character of Lilith. If you also do, you know what I’m referring to. If you don’t, you can expect to be thoroughly disquieted by what I’m about to tell you.

The Lilith Fund website proclaims on the About Us tab,

Who is Lilith? Lilith was the first woman created by God, as Adam's wife and equal. Because Lilith refused to be subservient or submissive, she was sent away from Eden. Today Lilith is the feminist icon of the free-spirited, strong woman.

Unfortunately, this little statement offers about as much truth regarding the legends of Lilith as a computer salesman who tells you that Windows Vista is a great operating system because it lets you put a Weather Channel gadget on your desktop. The computer salesman would be right about the weather gadget, but
entirely wrong about the conclusion he drew from it, having only related a small portion of the relevant facts. The same is true of the mythological character of Lilith.

As it turns out, Lilith was – how to put this delicately? – a cannibalistic, child-killing demon and vampire. Odd that an abortion fund would want to name themselves after a legendary creature with those traits, right? Let’s do a little research of our own and take a look at some examples of Lilith in mythology.
Wikipedia says,

Lilith is a character in Jewish mythology, developed earliest in the Babylonian Talmud, who is generally thought to be related to a class of female demons Līlīṯu in Mesopotamian texts…
The Assyrian lilitû were said to prey upon children and women and were described as associated with lions, storms, desert, and disease.

That’s not exactly a mascot I would pick for anything, much less an abortion-related business, but to each his own, I guess. Here’s another morsel of nastiness.

Lamashtû was a very similar Mesopotamian demon to Lilitû, and Lilith seems to have inherited many of Lamashtû's myths. Many incantations against her mention her status as a daughter of heaven and her exercising her free will over infants…Unlike her demonic peers, Lamashtû was not instructed by the gods to do her malevolence; she did it on her own accord. She was believed to seduce men, harm pregnant women, mothers, and neonates, kill foliage, and drink blood and was a cause of disease, sickness, and death.

A “neonate,” in case you were wondering, is a newborn baby.

Are you growing progressively confused as to why anybody would wish for their non-profit to be associated with the term
Lilith? Me too. Interestingly enough, the Lilith Fund doesn’t seem to find its rather disgusting origins embarrassing.  LifeSiteNews says,

On its
Facebook page earlier [last] year, [the Lilith Fund] eerily invited fans to express their devotion to abortion by posting the phrase “I am meeting Lilith” as their status, “if you have had an abortion or know someone who’s had an abortion.”

Let’s take a look at one last depiction of Lilith.

According to Siegmund Hurwitz, the Talmudic Lilith is connected with the Greek Lamia, who likewise governed a class of child-stealing lamia-demons. Lamia bore the title "child killer" and was feared for her malevolence, like Lilith. She has different conflicting origins and is described as having a human upper body from the waist up and a serpentine body from the waist down…grief caused Lamia to turn into a monster that took revenge on mothers by stealing their children and devouring them. Lamia had a vicious sexual appetite that matched her cannibalistic appetite for children. She was notorious for being a vampiric spirit and loved sucking men’s blood.

Earlier this week, a chilling photograph of a dead baby aborted at nine months was circulated on the web. The child, a victim of a forced abortion under China’s one-child policy, is shown submerged in a tub of water and may have been born alive. It has caused a global stir, as readers everywhere have expressed outrage, and reports indicate that the kerfuffle has been particularly overwhelming in China.

Tragically, the travesty of forced abortion in China is only the extreme end of a shocking human rights violation that occurs every day in our own nation. No matter how you look at it, abortion is a horrible procedure to contemplate and indisputably stops a beating heart. Perhaps it is fitting that the mascot of the industry should be a bestial, child-strangling demon. All I know is that if this mystical Lilith entity is the icon of so-called “free-spirited, strong women,” I want no part of that clique.


The President not only voted for infanticide - he afterwards lied elaborately to cover it up....

(Posted by Bryana Joy on March 5, 2012)

A baby was born alive during a botched saline abortion on April 6, 1977. Weighing just two lbs and severely injured by the abortion solution which had burned her skin, the child was premature and had cerebral palsy. Her parents, two young teenagers, released her to the foster care system of the state, and she was later adopted at the age of four. Gianna Jessen is now a recording artist, public speaker and pro-life activist who seeks to raise awareness regarding the rights of abortion survivors. She understands, in a way many of us cannot, the brutal nature of abortion and the value of laws that protect infants born alive. She knows that if someone at the hospital where she was accidentally born had not intervened on her behalf, she could have been left to die in a utility room on a heap of soiled linens.

In 2008, nurse
Jill Stanek explained in a riveting and shocking video that many abortion survivors have not fared as well as Gianna. Many have been denied medical care and simply abandoned. As 2012 Presidential Candidate Ron Paul shared in his ad, “Life,”  during his time as a ob/gyn doctor in Texas, he witnessed viable and breathing babies that were delivered after botched abortion procedures being ignored and left to die in buckets, while premature babies born to expectant parents were given every consideration and surrounded by doctors and nurses fighting to prolong their lives.

Fortunately, the Born Alive Protection Act, which was signed into law by President George Bush in August 2002, now provides legal protection to any and all babies born alive at “
any stage of development that has a heartbeat, pulsation of the umbilical cord, breath, or voluntary muscle movement, no matter if the umbilical cord has been cut or if the expulsion of the infant was natural, induced labor, cesarean section, or induced abortion.”

The Born Alive Protection Act requires medical personnel to provide care to living babies and bars them from killing children who have survived birth. It doesn’t seem like it should be a controversial issue. And, as a matter of fact, it wasn’t really. Pro-abortion groups as strident as the NARAL backed the bill and Democrats like Barbara Boxer and Sen. Edward Kennedy supported it and even urged its passage. The act passed the Senate unanimously.

Oddly enough, and a bit horrifically, when a similar bill came up for vote in Illinois in 2001, 2002, and 2003, then-Senator Barack Obama opposed all three versions of it. When his opposition of the bill came back to haunt him in the 2008 Presidential elections, he accused the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) of “lying” about his stances, and claimed that although he did not support the Illinois bill, he would have voted for the federal bill that was eventually signed into law. He opposed the Illinois bill, he claimed, because he saw it as a back-door attack on a woman’s legal right to abortion, whereas the federal bill included a neutrality clause that protected
Roe v. Wade.

As it turns out, that’s not true. Richard Land has put together a report debunking Obama’s claims against the NRLC, and Jill Stanek has also compiled a list of sources for those interested in finding out about the President’s real actions with regard to the Born Alive legislation. FactCheck.org, a site which has been frequently accused of unfair liberal bias, weighed in on the NRLC controversy with this surprising statement,

“We find that, as the NRLC said in a recent statement, Obama voted in committee against the 2003 state bill that was nearly identical to the federal act he says he would have supported. Both contained identical clauses saying that nothing in the bills could be construed to affect legal rights of an unborn fetus, according to an undisputed summary written immediately after the committee’s 2003 mark-up session.”

Interestingly enough
, Obama was not only a member of the committee that added the neutrality clause to Illinois’ Born Alive legislation – he was the chairman of that committee. And after taking great pains to get the bill to include the clause which would have upheld Roe v. Wade, he voted against it.

The documents prove that in March 2003, state Senator Obama, then the chairman of the IL state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, presided over a committee meeting in which the "neutrality clause" (copied verbatim from the federal bill) was added to the state Born Alive Protection Act, with Obama voting in support of adding the revision. Yet, immediately afterwards, Obama
led the committee Democrats in voting against the amended bill, and it was killed, 6-4.

In light of this shocking evidence against Barack Obama, and suggestions that his claims about the Born Alive legislation were calculated to deceive the public, it’s not surprising that critics have expressed dismay over the former senator’s “infanticide” vote. Political voices from Alan Keyes to Newt Gingrich have spoken with horror of the President’s refusal to uphold the legal rights of human babies, and radio host Rush Limbaugh pulled the issue out again this week, referring yet again to the President’s vote as an “infanticide vote.”

Media Matters, the George Soros-funded liberal think tank, paraded their outrage in
a piece titled, Limbaugh Revives Bogus Attack That Obama Supports "Infanticide."

Born Alive legislation aside, there are other reasons to accuse Obama of supporting infanticide, two of the most infamous being his “present” votes for Partial Birth Abortion bans, (in Illinois, a “present” vote carries the same weight as a “no” vote) the second of which passed overwhelmingly and was signed into law. Partial birth abortion, a truly horrible form of late-term abortion which involves the abortionist inducing labor and then severing the skull of an often fully-viable child, is largely seen as inhumane, even among pro-choice activists. If that isn’t infanticide, it’s hard to say what is.

But the good folks over at Media Matters still aren’t convinced. In order to make our discussion more accessible to them, let’s use a simple, real-life example: suppose the legislature were to decide that if someone really, really hacks me off, and I go into their home in the middle of the night and shoot them, I haven’t committed murder. They decide that I can walk away from the scene completely scot-free. Does their verdict mean that what I have done isn’t a homicide? Of course not! Because
a homicide is the act of killing a homo sapiens, whether the act is legal or not.  While the definition of murder varies according to legislation, any time I end the life of a human being, I have committed a homicide. Thus, when I end the life of an infant, I have committed infanticide, even if the government doesn’t think I have committed murder. In the words of ethicist G.K. Chesterton, “to have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

The question remains: what is an infant? I bet Gianna Jessen is pretty sure she was one in 1977 when medical personnel scrambled to save what was left of her life.

(First posted at The College Conservative)

Lila Rose, President of Live Action
The Obama administration's staunch defense Planned Parenthood hurts women and raises some serious questions about the pro-choice movement's concern for women's health

(Posted by Bryana Joy on December 20th, 2011)

Investigative journalists from Live Action  conducted a series of “sting” operations on Planned Parenthood clinics in January of this year. Actors posed as a pimp and a prostitute working a child sex ring and asked for advice on how to skirt legal requirements designed to protect minors from sexual abuse. Clinic workers offered assistance and suggestions, going out of their way to aid the supposed pimp. Needless to say, the tapes caused quite a stir, and prompted some Americans to rethink the issue of Planned Parenthood’s government funding. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is an abortion provider that also offers other reproductive health services. Planned Parenthood received 360 million dollars of taxpayer money in 2009, and about one third of its funds are supplied by government grants and contracts.  As a result of the sting videos, there was an effort to defund the organization at the federal level, with an amendment which passed the house but died in the senate. Nonetheless, several states have decided on their own to cut funding to Planned Parenthood, including Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey and North Carolina.

Once these states’ intentions were made known, it didn’t take long for things to get ugly. The Obama administration
declared Indiana’s measure illegal and ordered the state to restore the family planning funding to Planned Parenthood. If Indiana did not comply, it would lose its 4.2 billion dollars of Medicaid money – the government aid funds that are utilized by low-income women. The administration also warned that other states’ Medicaid funds would be in jeopardy if they chose to follow Indiana’s example.

This heavy-handed federal action was accompanied by a flood of accusations of the usual sort leveled at pro-life activists.
President Obama stated that Republicans were trying to “turn back the clock” on women’s health. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called Indiana’s measure,

“a dangerous bill that would have a devastating impact on women’s health and take away health care from thousands of women in Indiana, leaving them at greater risk for undetected cancers, untreated infections and unintended pregnancies…”

Unfortunately for Cecile Richards, the truth of the matter is that there are over 800 Medicaid providers in Indiana and Planned Parenthood only serves 1% of Medicaid patients. Under the law that Indiana passed, a Medicaid patient trying to set up an appointment for feminine care with Planned Parenthood will simply be referred to a nearby primary care physician and provided with the same health services. Live Action tested this in a series of calls to Indiana Planned Parenthood clinics. Indiana’s law, which has been suspended pending a decision from the 7th Circuit of Appeals Court, would not have kept a single woman from her Medicaid money or her healthcare. The Obama administration’s decision to suspend Indiana’s Medicaid money is a threat to thousands of women’s health care plans.

In July 2011, Texas governor Rick Perry signed into law
a bill that effectively defunded Planned Parenthood in the state of Texas. SB 7 also prevents hospital districts from using local tax funding for elective abortions, and encourages adult stem cell research by giving health officials authority to regulate adult stem cell banks. But when the Texas Health and Human Services Commission submitted a request for federal funding of the state’s Medicaid Women’s Health Program earlier this month, the Commission was told that it would have to defy the new law if it wanted the money.

What this means is that the Obama administration won’t provide money for Texas’ Medicaid Women’s Health Program unless Texas gives a portion of that money to Planned Parenthood and allows Planned Parenthood to be among the Medicaid providers. And this in spite of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did give Texas a waiver
allowing Texas to move all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries to doctors in managed care plans. Tom Suehs, HHSC’s executive commissioner, said in a statement that the denial of funds was itself “inconsistent with federal law,” since states have the right to “establish qualifications for Medicaid providers.”

Perhaps Texas Gov. Perry said it best when he accused the Obama Administration of “holding women's health care hostage because of Texas' pro-life policies.” While we’re always hearing claims from pro-choice groups that opponents of Planned Parenthood don’t care about women’s health, the shoe is definitely on the other foot in this case. Women’s health may be important to the Obama administration, but what’s more important to them is that it be provided by Planned Parenthood. And if it can’t be – well, tough. It’s the government-sanctioned clinical program or the highway. 

(Originally posted at the Washington Times Communities)

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