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By Matt Smith
One of the largest pro-life efforts ever in Congress will begin this week. Congressman Chris Smith (R, NJ-04), Chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, will introduce the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” on Thursday, July 29, 2010.
In a letter to his colleagues asking them to become an original co-sponsor of the legislation, Congressman Smith writes:
“For over 30 years, a patchwork of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion. Together these various policies ensure that the American taxpayer is not involved in funding the destruction of innocent human life through abortion on demand.”
By Matt Smith
As a father of two, I often find myself asking my children to be quiet at times when I do not want them to speak during in opportune times. Now, in the wake of the very unpopular pro-abortion health care reform, TARP, failed stimulus, and extremely low approval ratings for the institution, Congress this week is attempting to silence our voices from being heard in this year’s elections.
H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, was introduced in April to legislatively overrule the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision and narrowly passed the House of Representatives on June 24, 2010 by 219 – 206. The primary author of the legislation is Representative Chris Van Hollen (D, MD-08) who also serves as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The Citizens United ruling was a victory on behalf of those who cherish the fundamental freedoms protected by the First Amendment. The proposed legislation will not ensure free, fair, and transparent elections, but rather create a punitive measure for associations of persons who choose to exercise their right to free political speech as guaranteed by the Constitution, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. FEC case.
The bill targets corporations and conveniently exempts traditional Democrat campaign supporters, including unions. Disclaimer requirements and limits on foreign corporations and government contractors target only the political speech of corporations, with no effect on unions including foreign-influenced labor unions, public-employee unions, or government grant recipients.
One key casualty will be grassroots organizations such as Catholic Advocate and other pro-life, pro-family organizations.
In May, nine former Federal Election Commission (FEC) members, spanning thirty-five years of service co-signed a letter to the House of Representatives stating:
“Its disclosure provisions are unnecessary – duplicating information that is readily available to the public or providing information of extremely low informational value at a significant cost in terms of complexity and lack of clarity, especially for grassroots political speech.”
On July 22, 2010, Senator Chuck Schumer (D, NY) began working feverishly to have the DISCLOSE Act moved through the Senate before Congress leaves for their August recess later this week, signed by President Obama, and implemented before the November 2nd elections.
The DISCLOSE Act is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, or in the words of some it should probably be called “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections”.
The DISCLOSE Act is not about accountability in our elections. This Act is about silencing those who are frustrated with the direction of our country and who want to hold our elected officials accountable for their votes.
Members of the Catholic Advocate community interested in ensuring their voices are not silenced should immediately contact their Senators today.
Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate
By Anne Hendershott
During the past decade—beginning with a PBS broadcast in 2000 entitled On Our Own Terms: Moyers on Dying, and culminating with the provisions for “end of life” counseling in the current health care legislation—assisted suicide and euthanasia have become so successfully defined down that even Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) volunteered to co-host a luncheon and fundraiser last year for Compassion and Choices of Northern California—the assisted suicide advocacy organization formerly known as the Hemlock Society.
Indeed, for Progressive Democrats like Feinstein and other liberal lawmakers, the movement for assisted suicide and euthanasia has become the new frontier for the freedom to choose. And, like abortion advocacy organizations, powerful pro-death advocacy organizations—some with annual budgets of more than a million dollars—have emerged with generous funding from leftist foundations like the Tides Foundation.
According to Wesley Smith, a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute and author of Culture of Death, “Compassion and Choices clearly wants to become the Planned Parenthood of assisted suicide, no doubt hoping one day to receive public funds and medical referrals for end-of-life counseling, and to facilitate assisted suicide.” (more…)
By Stephen Phelan
Just when faithful Catholics thought they’d heard the last of the troubled Patrick Kennedy, we find that he had one more curious public spectacle up his sleeve. As we have come to expect from the lame-duck congressman from Rhode Island, the occasion is one last attempt to make himself relevant to his family’s party by opposing pro-life Christians.
Kennedy is joining the chorus of supposedly “objective” Democrats who are traveling to Kenya and weighing in on the upcoming congressional referendum. Like Vice President Biden and a handful of other Democrat congressmen, Kennedy doesn’t see a problem with telling Kenyans how Washington thinks they should vote. But Kennedy has taken the rhetoric up a notch in both tone and absurdity, threatening to use the Congressional Oversight Committee (COC) to expose Western pro-life organizations that finance the opposition to the new pro-abortion constitution.
This threat is just crazy for several reasons. First, the efforts he is threatening to expose are in no way illegal. Human rights organizations on a daily basis do exactly what Kennedy apparently finds so nefarious – working with Kenyans to keep their country the way they want it – abortion-free. Along with the majority of Kenyans who are pro-life, these groups are right to be concerned by the proposed constitution, which essentially opens the door for a complete reversal of Kenya’s prohibitions against abortion. (more…)
By Matt Smith
Members of Congress are still trying to hide behind Catholic Health Association CEO Sister Carol Keehan’s pro-life declaration about the health care bill suffered another defeat on July 2, 2010.
One component buried in the health care bill is a minuscule $25 million pregnancy assistance grant program to be administered by states through arrangements between the federal Department of Health and Human Services and partners such as institutions of higher education, high schools, community organizations, and state attorneys-general offices.
HHS states the $25 million will be distributed in amounts between $500,000 and $2 million, if applicants meet certain criteria. This is throw away money considering Planned Parenthood annually receives $350 million in taxpayer funding.
The Catholic Advocate community might remember hearing about a Government Accounting Office (GAO) report released the Friday of Memorial Day weekend this year that proved taxpayers paid $967.1 million to groups that perform or promote abortion between 2002 and 2009.
- $967.1 million (nearly a billion dollars of your money) to support abortion according to the GAO
- $25 million to pregnancy assistance
And now for the real surprise from the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services led by Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic…
Planned Parenthood and its clever grant writers are able to compete for these federal dollars the way grant rules are written and assessed. Applicants have until August 2, 2010 to submit their proposals for funding which, among other things, must include a letter of endorsement from a “state representative.” With stringent criteria such as this, the game is fixed and only the few true pregnancy assistance centers with some form of State government endorsed partnership will be able to apply for these funds.
While Planned Parenthood has received what amounts to an abortion-entitlement program from the federal government for years, crisis pregnancy centers and other pro-family, pro-mother organizations have been succeeding for years without the handouts. Instead of needing to lobby Capitol Hill for funding, the free market and support for life have allowed them to establish a lasting formula for success.
A true pro-life champion of Congress, not one of those who compromised with their vote for the health care bill needing cover, should consider introducing legislation that extends the deadline and clarifies for HHS how the funds can be used to ensure Planned Parenthood or another pro-abortion entity cannot possibly use these funds that are meant to support women and their unborn babies.
Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate
Thursday, July 8, 2010, Federal District Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitutional right of married same-sex couples to equal protection under the law and upends the federal government’s long history of allowing states to set their own marriage laws.
The Catholic Advocate community might remember we previously alerted you to this campaign to repeal DOMA legislatively.
We predicted back on January 4, 2010:
“Advocates of same-sex marriage are working overtime to have H.R. 3567 reach the floor of the House this year and repeal a 13 year-old law previously supported by 85 percent of Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. If they succeed in passing the bill, and it is signed by President Obama, 40 states will be forced to recognize same-sex marriages making the successes in Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont that much more relevant. Democrats will have learned nothing from the current health care debate or the voices of the voters in the states that have repealed gay marriage initiatives. Democrats in Congress are nearing desperation from their low-approval ratings. The base of the Democrat party dealt with a year of disappointment when campaign promises did not translate into actions. Democrats will be looking for ways to re-energize their disappointed base leading into the November 2, 2010 mid-term elections. The unfortunate casualty will be the sanctity of marriage.”
President Obama is still committed to his campaign promise to repeal DOMA calling it “discriminatory.” The case in Massachusetts was brought by state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), the Kennedy-clan hand-picked candidate who lost to now Senator Scott Brown. Since the suit was filed against the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding a federal law, it was defended in court by the U.S. Justice Department, specifically the Office of the Solicitor General led by now Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
This case will no doubt now move to a higher court where once again the Obama Justice Department will need to “defend” DOMA.
Check back with Catholic Advocate to learn how you can lend your voice to oppose this latest attempt to redefine marriage through judicial activism.
By: Anne Hendershott
While support for President Obama remains strong among African Americans, it is difficult to understand why so many seem to overlook the fact that the expansion of abortion rights under this President and the current Democrat Congress continues to contribute to a daily death toll of nearly 1,500 black children lost to abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, more than one-third of all African American women end their pregnancy with abortion. Since 1973, the number of abortions by African American women has totaled more than thirteen million. Although African Americans represent only 12 percent of the American population they account for more than 35 percent of all abortions. As a result, the abortion rate (number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 per year) for African American women is nearly 3 times that of white women.
In some localities, including Mississippi, Louisiana, Maryland, and Georgia, more than half of all abortions are performed on black women. Black women in New York City receive nearly half of all abortions performed there. This national disparity in death toll for African Americans is likely to increase as President Obama recently signed legislation which will provide public funding for abortion for those living in Washington, DC—a city with a majority population of African Americans. Legislation is pending that will provide federally funded abortion on military bases—and soon we will be confronted with the new legislation on health care reform–replete with funding for abortion.
Still, Catholics must be encouraged that their bishops are not silent on what Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Chicago’s Auxilary Bishop recently called “the decimation of the black community.” Bishop Perry has taken the lead in addressing what many in the pro-life community believe is the targeting of the black community for abortion.
Bishop Perry, an African American, published a statement on his home archdiocesan website entitled “Abortion and Its Impact on the Black Community.” In the statement he encouraged parish pro-life activities to “raise awareness about alternatives to abortion, particularly, to let women in trouble be aware that they have other options.”
Unfortunately, some of Bishop Perry’s own co-workers in the Archdiocesan Office of Racial Justice have been working against his pro-life goals. Last Spring, the Archdiocese honored Fr. Michael Pfleger, one of President Obama’s strongest supporters, with the Racial Justice Lifetime Achievement Award. Fr. Pfleger, a member of the “Catholics for Obama” advisory board, has a long history of using his parish to host various pro-abortion figures including the Rev. Al Sharpton. In 2003 Lifesite News reported that Pfleger violated archdiocesan rules forbidding pro-abortion individuals to speak at the pulpit by inviting the singer and political activist, Harry Belafonte to speak at Sunday Mass at St. Sabina. At the Mass—from the pulpit—Belafonte criticized President Bush for “threatening a woman’s right to choose.”
Sr. Anita Baird, who is African American and the founding director of the Office for Racial Justice in the Chicago Archdiocese, denies that President Obama is “pro-abortion” and told a Lifesite News reporter that “to be pro-abortion is that you believe in abortion and you support it. I don’t think you will find that the president has ever said that…the president is not pro-abortion, he is pro-choice. I think they are two very different things.”
Until Bishop Perry begins to address the pro-abortion politicians promoted by those within his own Archdiocesan staff , it will be difficult for him to make a difference in addressing the real racial injustice—the racial disparities in abortion rates.
Anne Hendershott is head of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program at The King’s College in Manhattan.
By Matt Smith
During questioning from Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK), Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan responded, “I said in my opening statement that I was only going to make a single pledge, the pledge that I made in my opening statement, but I’ll make you another: I’ll re-read The Federalist Papers.”
The Federalist Papers were written after the Constitutional Convention as part of what today would be considered a massive intellectual public relations campaign for state ratification. What Senator Coburn might have thought to press Elena Kagan on was whether she had recently re-read the key document of America written before the Constitution.
On Sunday, America commemorates the 234th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. A document signed by fifty-six patriots who believed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
As you examine the writings of the time, the Founding Fathers in their drafting of what has been dubbed “The Charters of Freedom” viewed the documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, held 1774-1789, as a continuous philosophical formation of our country.
However, on January 22, 1973, seven justices on the Supreme Court inserted words into the Constitution under the guise of privacy and forgetting the “unalieanable” right to life written in the Declaration of Independence, our country’s first founding document.
Since 1973, averaging estimates from both the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute and Centers for Disease Control brings us to 3,804 abortions per day or roughly 51,373,020 children who never had the chance to invoke their unalienable rights.
Instead of asking if Elena Kagan has read The Federalist Papers – ask her how she is going to interpret the document they are about from the highest court in the land. Does she think the Constitution is a living document? Does she think the Constitution should be modernized? Does she think international law should be consulted as she has written? Since President Obama publicly said he would nominate someone who shared his world view, how is she going to use such a view in her approach to rulings?
President Obama decided on March 18, 2008 to open his major address on race during the 2008 presidential campaign by highlighting that the drafters and signers of the Declaration wanted “to form a more perfect union.” The speech is filled with a history lesson and rhetoric on important issues such as race relations and civil rights. It is clear though, he chose to pick and choose which sections of the Declaration to highlight.
Unfortunately, the one civil right omitted from the speech delivered by the man who broke down the very barriers he talked about that day was the right to life. The omission is one seen time and again by certain Members of Congress. They can be seen on C-SPAN standing in the well of the House of Representatives or Senate speaking with all their oratory abilities on the rights of citizens but not once mentioning the unborn.
The Founding Fathers had a “world view” for our country and the principles to uphold it. We would be served well and placed once again down the path to becoming a shining city on the hill if elected officials referenced our Charters of Freedom instead of trying to constantly re-write them.
So on this July 4th, maybe President Obama, his Supreme Court nominee, and those in Congress who repeatedly vote for pro-abortion policies can take a moment to read the Declaration of Independence and be reminded of the rights that were written down by the Founders not inserted by the Court 197 years later.
Matt Smith is Vice President of Catholic Advocate
By: Anne Hendershott
Now that they have completed their work in helping to pass President Obama’s health care reform legislation—replete with public funding for abortion—the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations (PICO), a progressive national network of faith-based organizations, is once again taking money from the Bishops’ CCHD fund to support the President’s financial reforms. With an initiative called “Our Money Our Values,” PICO teams with Faithful America to pressure banks to “serve the needs of the people…We’re organizing personal bank accounts, congregational investments, and even public dollars as leverage in negotiating with top bank executives to win the reforms our communities need.”
Like health care reform, this newest PICO initiative aims to redistribute wealth by demanding that “faith leaders step into the big banks’ boardrooms.” Claiming on the website (www.ourmoneyourvalues.org) that “we’ve got real money on the table, but it’s still a big fight,” they complain that the banks “continue to use our money to generate obscene profits for those at the top.”
Like recalcitrant teenagers who are more than happy to take an allowance from their parents, yet unwilling to take their advice, PICO continues to take money from the Bishops’ CCHD collections, but as with health care reform, they remain unwilling to accept their authority.
Founded in 1972 under the leadership of Father John Baumann, a Jesuit who learned community organizing in Chicago, PICO has a history of using CCHD money to promote pro-choice candidates for office. During the campaign for health care reform, PICO organized “Faith and Health Care Sundays” throughout the country. Teaming with Jim Wallis’ Sojourners and the George Soros funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, PICO provided congregations with a Health Care Tool Kit to help sell the legislation.
On many of these Sunday sessions, PICO brought pro-choice politicians to the churches to promote health care reform. In fact, the main speaker at the PICO “prayer vigil” for health care in Orange County, California in September, 2009, was Representative Loretta Sanchez, a pro-choice Democrat. She was joined at the head table by Auxiliary Bishop Dominic Luong. A decade before, CCHD-supported community agencies like PICO and the Orange County Organizing Project helped Ms. Sanchez defeat Catholic pro-life Representative Bob Dornan.
Now their attention has turned to financial reform. On April 29th, PICO and Faithful America joined with allies, including the National People’s Action, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and MoveOn.org at a 4,000 person rally and march in New York City to confront banks with their demands. Carrying placards saying “No Bonuses for Big Banks” and “Wall Street: Never Again,” demonstrators took over the lobbies of Chase Bank and Wells Fargo/Wachovia “in order to get our message of reform to the leadership and CEOs of those institutions. We chanted, sang and refused to be moved until a letter with our demands was delivered to the offices of the CEOs.”
As the organizers of the April 29th rally state: “Our goal is to force a which-side- are-you-on-movement for U. S. senators on the issue of Wall Street reform: Are they with the American people or are they with the Wall Street Banks?”
Most Catholics who have generously supported the CCHD with their parishioner donations would agree that they wish to help the poor. Most would also agree that financial reform is needed. But, few would agree with the redistribution of income that this President’s financial reform legislation promises. But, the Bishops continue to collect money from parishioners and give it to organizations that continue to lobby against them.
Catholic Advocate has joined with eighteen pro-life organizations and leaders to request the Catholic Health Association support H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act.
As we informed our community back in April when Congressman Joe Pitts (R, PA-16) announced the introduction of H.R. 5111, the Protect Life Act is an effort to fix the abortion language in the Obama health care bill. The Protect Life Act includes a bi-partisan list of 108 co-sponsors as of June 24, 2010. The Catholic Advocate community might remember the original pro-life effort to the health care legislation was the Stupak-Pitts amendment. While Congressman Stupak has announced his retirement, Congressman Pitts is demonstrating his commitment to life by continuing the fight.
Many may remember when President Obama told America on September 9, 2009 – “…and one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.”
Wednesday, June 23, 2010 marked the three month anniversary since the enactment of Obama-care. Since it was signed into law, there has been no progress on implementing Executive Order 13535, which President Obama claimed would bar taxpayer funding of abortion under ObamaCare and eliminate the need for enactment of the pro-life Stupak amendment.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, after Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, dodged questions about the implementation in a May 11 letter to Members of Congress, Minority Leader John Boehner asked President Obama directly about his administration’s plans regarding abortion in the health care legislation. The questions included:
- Has the Department of Health & Human Services provided guidance to states to implement the president’s Executive Order on abortions?
- When does the Obama Administration expect to issue a directive on abortions?
- Will the new federal high-risk pools touted by the Obama Administration also ensure that abortions will not be covered?
- What steps has the Health & Human Services Department taken to ensure that community health centers will not use federal funding authorized under ObamaCare to perform abortions?
As the Catholic Advocate community understands, relying on an Executive Order is not effective in protecting the sanctity of life in the Obama health care law.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) even acknowledges the bill “was profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights,…” In a May 20, 2010 letter announcing support for the Protect Life Act, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, implored Members of Congress to “…help give us a reformed health care system that respects the life, health, and conscience of all.”
The Protect Life Act is a positive step in restoring the Hyde amendment language to the health care bill and protecting the unborn.
Will the Catholic Health Association join us?