Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

Pro-life Democrats becoming an endangered species

Abortion | The party is squeezing out its few abortion foes
by Evan Wilt
Posted 1/22/18, 03:50 pm

WASHINGTON—The few pro-life Democrats in Congress will have to fight to survive in 2018.

As thousands of pro-lifers convened in Washington, D.C., for the 45th annual March for Life, lawmakers voted on legislation to strengthen protections for children. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act passed in the House of Representatives on Friday by a vote of 241-183.

Just six Democrats joined Republicans to support the measure that would mandate children born alive during an abortion receive hospital attention. One of those Democrats, Rep. Dan Lipinski of Illinois, is feeling the weight of that position.

On Wednesday, fellow Illinois Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutiérrez endorsed Lipinski’s Democratic primary challenger—a rare attempt to remove one of their own. Lipinski, a seven-term veteran, is the co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus. Schakowsky and Gutiérrez are prominent members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In 2016, Schakowsky was the top Democrat on the House Select Panel on Infant Lives and worked to disband the investigation of the abortion industry’s sale of baby body parts.

“It’s not easy to endorse a challenger for a colleague in the House of Representatives, especially when that colleague is a member of your own party,” Gutiérrez said at a press conference announcing his support for Marie Newman in the Democratic primary on March 20.

Lipinski spoke at the March for Life in Chicago on Jan. 14 and planned to speak at the event in Washington on Friday, but he decided to skip the event at the last minute. Isaac Sancken, a Lipinski spokesperson, told me it was due to “scheduling issues,” but Lipinski said in a statement to BuzzFeed News he didn’t want to associate closely with President Donald Trump, a last-minute addition to the program.

A Marist/Knights of Columbus poll released last week indicated 25 percent of Democrats identify as pro-life. What’s more, 61 percent of Democrats support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy.

For many attendees at March for Life events across the country, how candidates vote on abortion is their top consideration. Dan and Laura Murray attended the Chicago and Washington marches. They are Republicans and had nothing but good things to say about Trump, largely because of his stance on abortion.

“It’s the most important issue there is—it’s a matter of life and death,” Dan Murray told me. “I would vote for a Democrat if he were pro-life.”

But with the majority of Democrats running on a pro-abortion platform, pro-life advocates fear the future of their movement lives or dies by way of the GOP.

Abby Johnson, CEO of And Then There Were None, works full time to help abortion workers leave the industry. At the March for Life in Washington Friday she told me of her concern that no Democratic lawmakers appeared at the event.

“We’ve got to allow a diverse group of people into the pro-life movement,” Johnson said. “And the longer we continue to tie ourselves to the GOP and a particular political party, the more we are going to push people away.”

Creative Commons/Photo by Adam Jones Creative Commons/Photo by Adam Jones The Tennessee Capitol

Tennessee pro-lifers win amendment battle

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Tennessee pro-lifers something to celebrate when they gathered Sunday to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. On Jan. 9, the court ruled in favor of state election officials in a three-year battle over a 2014 state amendment ending abortion’s status as a constitutionally protected right. The ruling clears the way for additional abortion regulations in the upcoming state legislative session.

In 2000, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the state constitution guaranteed the right to an abortion and struck down all of the state’s pro-life regulations. Tennessee quickly became an abortion destination, with women traveling there to seek abortions that were illegal in their home states.

Fourteen years later, Tennessee lawmakers agreed to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to end absolute abortion protections. Voters passed the measure 53 to 47 percent. But pro-abortion activists sued, challenging the method the state used to count the ballots. The state constitution can only be amended if a “majority of all the citizens of the state” who vote for governor vote for the change. Pro-abortion activists claimed that meant only voters who’d participated in the governor’s election could vote on the amendment.

But the 6th Circuit declared accurate the state’s long-standing interpretation of the ballot requirement: For a measure to succeed, only a majority of the number of votes cast for governor is needed.

“Plaintiffs arguments amount to little more than a complaint that the campaigns in support of Amendment 1, operating within the framework established by state law, turned out to be more successful than the campaigns against Amendment 1,” the ruling stated. “Plaintiffs had the same ‘freedom’ as their adversaries to operate within the established framework to promote their opposition to Amendment 1.”

Conservative lawmakers greeted the news of the court’s decision, announced during the first session of the year, with a standing ovation.

“This is a great victory for the people of Tennessee whose compassion and concern for the protection of human life is vindicated again today,” Brian Harris, president of Tennessee Right to Life, told The Tennessean. —Leigh Jones

Facebook Facebook Nigel, Melody, and Karina Driscoll

Another parents rights fight in U.K.

Another case involving a terminally ill British child is bringing attention to the dismal state of parental rights in the U.K. Karina and Nigel Driscoll are fighting doctors at London’s King’s College Hospital who want to take their 11-year-old daughter Melody off pain medication and steroid treatments. Melody has Rett Syndrome and cannot walk or talk. The drugs could give Melody fatal liver damage, but her parents insist they keep her pain-free and improve her quality of life. After the Driscolls protested the hospital’s decision, the country’s social services agency warned it could take custody of Melody, forcing her to live the rest of her life in a foster home. “Seeing her in pain is heartbreaking, but the thought that the hospital could withdraw the pain relief and we could lose her to a foster family as well is unbearable,” Karina told Britain’s Sunday Mirror newspaper. The Driscolls are trying to hire the same lawyer who worked with the parents of Charlie Gard, an 11-month-old who died last year after British courts sided with doctors who wanted to end his life support. —L.J.

In-office birth

For only the second time in modern history, a female head of government will have a baby while in office. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Friday she her boyfriend, TV host Clarke Gayford, are expecting. “I am not the first woman to multitask. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby,” Ardern told reporters during a news conference. “We are going to make this work, and New Zealand is going to help us raise our first child.” Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had a baby while in office in 1990. —L.J.

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Evan Wilt

Evan is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD reporter.

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  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 01/28/2018 09:16 pm

    Wow, sounds like the UK hospitals can't even be consistent. First with Charlie Gard the parents were denied the chance to seek potentially life-saving treatment (admittedly, a rather slim possibility) because it might cause their child additional suffering, and now the hospital wants to cause this child pain because the meds used to treat the pain could also result in an earlier death. Either position could theoretically be defensible, but not both at the same time. And why on earth would social services threaten to take this daughter away from her parents when the hospital already has control over what medications she is or isn't perscribed? Could it be that they don't really have her best interests in mind?