by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
Throughout the month of May, states and local jurisdictions will be holding elections at a polling booth near you.
Some of those elections will be primary elections, which, of course, narrow the field of candidates before an election for office. Primary elections are those in which political parties nominate candidates for an upcoming general election or by-election. Ohio, Georgia, Nebraska, and West Virginia are all holding primaries this May.
General elections, elections in which final results will send winners directly to elective office, are being held in—among other states—Montana, New York, Texas, and Virginia. Additionally, many states and local jurisdictions are having ballot issues, such as levies, school issues, tax issues, as well as issues as significant as marriage amendments. It goes without saying that all citizens, including those who work for nonprofits, even issues-oriented nonprofits, have the right to and should vote.
History is replete with instances of the importance of one vote. And though Snopes.com tells me most of the commonly cited instances are urban legends, there is one example, which many of us lived through, that is no myth.
In 2000, the difference in the total vote in the state of Florida in the presidential race between George W. Bush and Al Gore was less than one-half of one percent. A recount and ensuing controversy ended in Mr. Bush receiving Florida’s electoral votes, and he won the election by one electoral vote.
With the ballot booth coming to a public gathering place near you, here’s a quick list of why your pro-life vote is important:
1. Every vote charts a courseVoting is our chance to have a say in setting the direction of our city, country and culture.
2. Every vote expresses a convictionVoting is our chance to make our choice about the future of our government—or express our opinion about the present one.
3. Every vote countsJust ask our 43rd President—or his former opponent.
4. Because vote exercises equalityEach and every vote is worth just as much as anyone else’s, regardless of wealth, gender, color, ethnicity or religion.
5. Because the clock may be tickingIf we don’t exercise this blood-earned right to vote, we may eventually lose it. This may seem alarmist, but not when our nation’s two and a half centuries of existence within the larger scope of world history is considered.
In addition to these considerations, each election season tends to raise questions in the collective and individual minds of nonprofit leaders and organizations. Is it legal to put up a sign on nonprofit property for or against particular legislation? Is it advisable for our executive director to run for city council? Can we publish or distribute a voter’s guide?
These, and similar questions, lurk in the frontal cortex of those who care about the issues, are constantly told to be wary of trespassing in forbidden waters, and yet feel a compulsion not only to vote, but to encourage others to vote.
While the answers are not always clear, Heartbeat International has already answered some of these questions.
Check out the following links for more information:
"I can't remember a day being this happy in the 27 years of doing this work," said Leslee Unruh, South Dakota’s founder of Alpha Center, a Sioux Falls, S.D. pregnancy help center.
Leslee asks you to stand with pregnancy centers in South Dakota. “If you want to help take this case and future cases to the Supreme Court, contact the Alpha Center in south Dakota at (605) 361-3500.
In light of this tremendous victory for the women of South Dakota, Alpha Center is committed to continue our involvement in this case but we need to hear from you that you are standing with us. Just like the babies we save, we are alive and kicking and we hope you will join us.”
Source: Elizabeth Nash, public policy associate for the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute and Christianity Today, “The New Pro-Life Surge, Political gains by U.S. conservatives unleash waves of anti-abortion legislation,” Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra 6/10/2011
“Doctors must inform pregnant women that they have ‘an existing relationship’ with an ‘unborn human being’” according to a recently upheld provision in South Dakota’s 2005 informed consent law. In its recent opinion on this case, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, Mo., overturned a lower federal court judge's decision that had struck down the "relationship advisories" section of South Dakota's 2005 informed consent law.
During the drawn-out legal battle, Heartbeat International, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, CareNet, and the Family Research Council filed an amicus brief asking the court to reject Planned Parenthood’s attempt to block portions of the law.
Leslee Unruh, founder of Alpha Center in South Dakota, was deeply involved in this battle. She says that this victory will have a huge impact on pro-life legislation across the nation. “A federal court finally recognizes the personhood of a baby in its mother’s womb!” rejoices Leslee. The status of personhood bestows rights and the protection of the law on the fetus.
Leslee says that the collection of data by South Dakota pregnancy help centers (PHCs) is what turned the tide during this court struggle. The court demanded documentation of the effects of choosing life over abortion on the women served in South Dakota PHCs. “Our center was able to document the immensely positive impact of choosing life on our clients.” The Eighth Circuit Court judges were impressed with the facts and the personal testimony of these brave women, according to Leslee.
The battle lines were drawn with a Planned Parenthood challenge to a 2005 South Dakota Public Health and Safety Code amendment expanding the requirements for informed consent to abortion. Under that law, a doctor must give a woman contemplating abortion oral advisories 24 hours before the procedure and written advisories at least two hours before the procedure.
In addition to providing the patient with information about known medical risks and increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, the written advisories inform the patient that:
In the 2005 challenge, a lower federal district court granted summary judgment in favor of South Dakota on the human being and risk advisories and in favor of Planned Parenthood on the relationship and suicide advisories. Planned Parenthood, however, continued to challenge the "existing relationship" provision.
Previously, in 2009, federal District Court judge Karen Schreier wrote, regarding the relationship section of the South Dakota law, "A legal relationship requires two people. The United States Constitution does not recognize an unborn embryo or fetus as a 'person,' in the legal sense."
On September 2, 2011, the Eighth Circuit Court panel, rejected Judge Schreier’s interpretation and agreed with the state's reading of the law on the relationship between a mother and her unborn child. In effect, the Eighth Circuit Court affirmed that a preborn child is a person.
Still, the recent ruling of the Eighth Circuit Court is not a complete victory. The three-judge panel gave a two-one split decision reversing the district court judge’s decision ruling on the “protected relationship” provision, and only narrowly upholding the judge’s decision with regard to the “risk of suicide” provision.
Circuit Court Judge Raymond Gruender dissented, arguing that the “risk of suicide” provision should have been upheld. He wrote in his dissent, “Even the evidence relied upon by Planned Parenthood acknowledges a significant, known, statistical correlation between abortion and suicide. This well-documented statistical correlation is sufficient to support the required disclosure that abortion presents an ‘increased risk’ of suicide, as that term is used in the relevant medical literature.”
Eighth Circuit Court Judges Diane E. Murphy and Michael Joseph Melloy voted in the majority.
The Eighth Circuit Court's September 2 ruling is a victory for LIFE on several fronts. The ruling supports a woman’s right to know that she has a relationship with the child living in her womb. It also establishes yet another protection for unborn children.
Related: Saving Lives Now with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane Maxon
Related: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment
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.
There are perhaps, no better known or rehearsed words in American history than these, which are embedded in the foundational document of the United States.
In the Declaration of Independence, the framers articulated two self-evident truths:
Those are possibly some of the most profound and meaningful words ever penned.
However, we also know that on the face of this profound and meaningful document itself, the words, and presumably the inalienable rights, applied only to certain men. One of those inalienable rights—the right to vote, to sway the system of government—belonged only to men.
If owning property or just about anything else is an inalienable right, then women were denied that right as well.
In a letter to her husband, John Adams, in 1776, Abigail Adams wrote, "in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies." His answer: "As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh… We know better than to repeal our masculine systems."
Appealing to her husband’s sense of fairness and desire for liberty for all, Abigail Adams wrote again, “I can not say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for whilst you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, Emancipating all Nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives."
This appeal fell on apparently deaf ears.
And so it was that women could not vote or be elected as presidents, senators, or anything else until 1920 by virtue of the 19th Amendment. From 1776 to 1920, it was clearly not self-evident that women had inalienable rights.
[Related: Saving Lives Now with a Winning Strategy, by Jeanneane Maxon]
Racial inequality: All men are created equal…
We further know that at the time those words were penned, non-landowners, African Americans, and those deemed too young (under 18) were specifically excluded not only from voting, but from other inalienable rights as well. In fact, some colonies, in 1776, prohibited any of these classes of people not only from owning land, but in some cases, from owning a gun, joining the militia, or owning real property.
Evidently, when the framers wrote that it was a self-evident truth that all men are created equal, they were really referring only to white, land-holding men. It was evidently not so self-evident that God created all people—men and women, black and white, slave and free, rich and poor—with unalienable rights.
Black people, both slaves and free, also tried to get equal rights under the new Constitution. In 1777, Prince Hall and eight other black men wrote a petition to the courts of Massachusetts arguing the following:
[Y]our Petitioners apprehend that they have in Common with all other men a Natural and Unalienable Right to that freedom which the Grat Parent of the Universe that Bestowed equally on all menkind and which they have Never forfeited by any Compact or agreement whatever.
In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson named the following among the list of offenses committed by the British crown:
[He] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people [the Africans] who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.
But Jefferson’s above defense did not gain traction with the rest of the framers. Instead, when writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers eventually agreed to the Three-Fifths Compromise, which counted each black man as three-fifths of a white man in censuses, yet did nothing to give freedom or rights to black individuals.
In fact, the truth that African Americans had unalienable rights took another 180 years, at least two Supreme Court decisions, marches, protests, arrests, and spilled blood before the government truly acknowledged that African Americans were endowed with unalienable rights, including the right to freely vote.
[Related: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment]
But the issue was not just that blacks did not have the right to vote, which would be wrong in and of itself. It was the logical underpinnings of that denial of suffrage that were truly objectionable. The right to vote does not exist in a vacuum. It is given to those society values and accepts within the ranks as having equal footing with all, worthy of the protection afforded to all.
For 180 years following the Revolutionary War, blacks were not treated as those to whom God had endowed with unalienable rights.
Likewise, Native Americans were not allowed to vote in the first 100-plus years of American life. The Constitution (Article I, section 2) states that "Indians not taxed" should not even be counted in the census at all. The men who wrote the Constitution held that Native Americans belonged to their own group, and were not part of the United States at all.
Native American men did not get the right to vote until 1889, and then only if they left their tribes and lived like white men. It wasn’t until 1924 that tribal Indians could vote. And before 1924, it is doubtless a scar upon America’s history that Native Americans were forcibly removed from their ancestral land.
A final inconsistency in voting rights was corrected in 1971 by the 26th Amendment, which granted 18-year-olds the right to vote. This amendment was passed in response to Vietnam War-era protests that the same young men who were drafted into war did not themselves possess a right to vote.
Taking all these classes of people together, only about a quarter of the adults in the United States could vote immediately following the Revolutionary War. All men created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights? Self-evident Not really.
These truths did not become self-evident for many classes of people until much later, and only then after several hard-fought battles.
The truth is that what was said to be self-evident in 1776 only became truly evident over time, as a result of sustained effort by the people. No one would argue today that blacks, women, those who do not own property, 18-year–olds, or Native Americans should be denied equal status as humans with inalienable rights.
But in 1776, that was evidently not self-evident.
Personhood Amendments seek to make it self-evident that life begins at fertilization—the embryo is a human being. And while embryos are not given the right to vote, or own property, he or she certainly has the inalienable right of protection.
There are currently several states in which personhood amendments are either pending or proposed. A Personhood Amendment seeks to define personhood in a state Constitution. In short, Personhood Amendments seek to define life as starting at fertilization and thereby worthy of legal protection.
In Georgia, a Personhood Amendment passed by a super majority in July, 2012. In North Dakota, the Personhood Amendment states in part, “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and defended.”
In Mississippi, the failed Personhood Amendment (2011) stated the following:
As used in this Article III of the state constitution, the term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.
These amendments are controversial, both among Christians and non-Christians, as well as pro-life and pro-abortion camps. Is such an amendment necessary? Is such an amendment wise? Is pursuing such an amendment helpful or harmful to the pro life movement?
In this issue of Capitol Matters, Heartbeat presents two strongly pro-life attorneys—Rob Muise, American Freedom Law Center and Jeanneane Maxon, Americans United for Life—who debate the two sides of the issue.
We present them primarily to demonstrate two differing opinions within the pro-life movement. We also present their arguments to provoke thinking and discussion, and hopefully, as Hebrews 10:24 instructs us, to love and good works.
by Ellen Foell, Esq., Heartbeat International Legal Counsel
Jeanneane Maxon, Esq., Americans United for Life
I first walked into the doors of a pregnancy center when I was seven years old—when my mother started working as the Executive Director of a large pregnancy center network in Texas.
When I look back, I remember some times of real heartbreak; times when, in spite of our best efforts, a client chose an abortion. I remember times we shed tears of rejoicing, when a client who was set on having an abortion later walked into the center with a beautiful baby.
We grieved the lives lost; we rejoiced in the lives saved, and ultimately we sought to save as many preborn children as possible, all while showing love and compassion to the women facing the unplanned pregnancy.
Similarly, the whole strategy of Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal architects of the pro-life movement, is to save as many lives as possible, all while providing truth and protection to women, and ultimately working for the day when Roe v. Wade will be reversed.
Within the pro-life movement, there are several approaches designed to reverse Roe v. Wade and end abortion. The goal is always the same—protecting the lives of unborn children—but each approach emphasizes a distinct strategy.
Two of the most prominent approaches today are the “Statutory” approach, the approach championed by AUL, and the “Convention” or “Referendum” approach, sometimes called the “personhood” approach.
[See Also: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident, by Ellen Foell]
AUL’s Statutory approach seeks to save lives in the present day primarily through the enactment of AUL’s 40+ pieces of model laws contained in our annual publication Defending Life. These laws have the strongest potential of surviving a constitutional challenge in the courts based on our legal team’s extensive experience and analysis of both the legal record and the Justices’ writings.
AUL has been involved in every major life-related case that has come before the Supreme Court beginning with Roe, and we successfully defended the Hyde Amendment which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.
Simultaneously, in a parallel track, the same bills that save lives now also directly attack the current legal foundation of Roe v. Wade and provide the Supreme Court the opportunity to reverse its horrendous decision.
Our work accomplishes three objectives:
Importantly, the Statutory approach also allows the pro-life movement to enact laws that bring attention to the needs of the woman as well as the unborn child. These include protections like informed consent, waiting periods, the right to view an ultrasound, and safety and hygiene regulations for abortion facilities.
Woman-centered pro-life legislation can begin to save lives immediately after they are enacted. But this legislation is also written with a long-term strategic legal view. If Roe v. Wade is ever going to be overturned, the pro-life movement must overcome the false idea that abortion is synonymous with women’s health and well-being.
[See Also: Fight to Win: An Argument for a State Human Life Amendment by Robert J. Muise]
Currently, the legal status of abortion is dependent on the false notion that abortion is good for women. Several of the Justices, like many in the American public, view abortion as a “necessary evil.” In Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court developed a legal doctrine known as the “reliance interest” in order to continue its support for virtually unrestricted abortion despite the wealth of evidence that proves unborn children are living persons.
The reliance interest focuses solely on women, who supposedly “rely” on abortion to maintain their status in American society. Because of this doctrine, it is highly unlikely that the Court will reverse Roe v. Wade unless the Justices recognize that abortion does not help women—abortion harms women, a truth that pregnancy centers know all too well.
The Convention approach, on the other hand, seeks to protect human life by calling state conventions to amend the U.S. Constitution. To provide some legal context, there are two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution:
The Convention approach has the proven impact of engaging the grassroots public and the culture overall on the life issue, and should be commended for those efforts.
Unfortunately, as a legal approach, it has historically proven to be very difficult, as none of the twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by state constitutional convention. AUL, in fact, had been involved in early efforts related to the Convention approach before shifting to a statutory-focused strategy.
In addressing the abortion issue, it is of the utmost importance that we are united as well as strategic. As it says in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (NKJ). Part of any overall strategy in the pro-life movement must involve bringing cases that we know cut to the heart of the reliance interest premise upholding Roe v. Wade.
Similar to pregnancy centers, we must work to demonstrate the harm of abortion to both women and their preborn children, while using our best efforts to save as many lives as we can today.
And like pregnancy centers, we are able to rejoice daily in lives saved.
Related: Evidently, Not so Self-Evident
1. Research conducted by Dr. Michael New of the University of Michigan in Dearborn found that even basic commonsense laws like parental consent/notification serve to reduce abortion significantly in states that enacted them. Michael J. New, Ph.D., Analyzing the Effect of State Legislation on the Incidence of Abortion Among Minors, HERITAGE CENTER FOR DATA ANALYSIS (2007), available at http://s3.amazonaws.com/thf_media/2007/pdf/cda07-01.pdf (finding that parental involvement laws and Medicaid funding restrictions significantly reduced the abortion rate during the 1990s).
Jeanneane Maxon serves as Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Counsel for Americans United for Life.
By Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
I know it is no longer fashionable to think that the First Amendment has any punch or power, but I like to hold onto such beliefs. You remember what it says, right?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“Petition the government for redress of grievances” is a fancy way of saying “lobbying.” In general, lobbying is simply stating your position on specific legislation to legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation. It can also mean urging your elected representatives to do so on your behalf, which is known as direct lobbying.
Lobbying includes stating your position on legislation to the general public and asking the general public to contact legislators or other government employees who participate in the formulation of legislation. This is known as grassroots lobbying.
Here’s something that may come as a shock: 501(c)(3)s are permitted to lobby. That means your center is permitted to lobby. In fact, to fulfill your center’s mandate and mission, your center and its members should be lobbying.
Federal tax law and the IRS regulations permit some lobbying by nonprofits, as long as that lobbying meets two criteria:
1. The time and money spent on lobbying by the 501c3 falls within IRS limits;
2. The activities engaged in by the organization fall within IRS definitions of lobbying.
A 501(c)(3) that has not filed for the 501(h) election is limited to spending an insubstantial amount of time, expenses and activities on lobbying. Insubstantial has never been defined by the IRS, but certainly 5% is generally considered a safe amount of time and money.
A center that has taken the (very easy!) step of filing a 501(h) election with the IRS operates under a different set of rules. In that case, a center would be subject to the following limits:
If the amount of exempt purpose expenditures is:
Lobbying nontaxable amount is:
20% of the exempt purpose expenditures
>$500,00 but ≤ $1,000,000
$100,000 plus 15% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $500,000
> $1,000,000 but ≤ $1,500,000
$175,000 plus 10% of the excess of exempt purpose expenditures over $1,000,000
$225,000 plus 5% of the exempt purpose expenditures over $1,500,000
The law also makes it clear which activities are lobbying and which are not. For example, lobbying occurs only when there is an expenditure of money by the 501(c)(3) for the purpose of attempting to influence legislation.
Centers are permitted to ask members and donors as well as the general public to support or oppose specific legislation. Centers are permitted to announce the legislation in a publication and ask readers to take action.
A 501(c)(3) organization may inform a political candidate of its positions on particular issues and urge him/her to go on record, pledging support of those positions. A center director can also mention the legislation when speaking at a church and encourage action.
Further, centers are allowed, without limit, to educate people on the legislation without encouraging action, to advocate involvement in the political process, and to pray regarding the legislation.
If the IRS had a deduction specifically for the benefit of pro-life individuals (which it does not), wouldn’t you as an individual, take advantage of it? Well, the IRS permits your organization to lobby, within limits.
Take advantage of it.
In the case of pro-abortion bills H.R. 2030 and S.B. 981, the mission, well-being, and very existence of your center may very well depend upon it.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
On a brisk January afternoon, I found myself positioned between two citadels of American government.
On my right sat the Capitol Building, where I’d spent the morning with Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress®. On my left stood the U.S. Supreme Court Building, where the 40th Annual March for Life would conclude the following day.
As I turned my gaze to the Supreme Court building, I expected to behold its looming columns and take in its hopeful, enduring motto, “Equal Justice Under Law.”
But what I saw surprised me. The majestic façade was covered with scaffolding and a transparent construction curtain. As I learned, the great marble-work of the building’s façade had been crumbling for some time, and renovation was now underway.
What a striking parable of justice, deteriorating. Yet, at the same time, what a striking parable of hope that justice can be—and one day will be—restored.
We live in a world that is plagued with the consequences of a decision made in that very building 40 years ago. When those inside this shrine to American justice decided, 7-2, to legalize abortion on-demand, justice crumbled.
Such a miscarriage of justice under the auspices of “Equal Justice Under Law” must never be forgotten. That’s why Heartbeat launched RememberingRoe.com, which serves as an online memorial to those 55 million unborn Americans who will never see the light of day because of Roe v. Wade.
A few hours before my stroll to the Supreme Court steps, I had the pleasure of watching Matennah—one of three moms who made up the Babies Go to Congress envoy—tell seven of her congressmen the story of how her beautiful twin daughters had been rescued by a Heartbeat-affiliated pregnancy help center.
Twenty-four hours later, the 40th annual March for Life brought 500,000 peaceful protesters to these stately steps. Heartbeat International was there, represented by a group of generous supporters and the sampling of moms, like Matennah, and their babies who have been saved from the violence of abortion.
Following the March, Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President of Heartbeat International, keynoted the annual Rose Dinner, highlighting the good work pregnancy help organizations to do for women and families. Peggy was followed by New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, chair of the Pro-Life Caucus, who delivered a ringing endorsement of Heartbeat and our life-saving mission.
No doubt, justice has drastically crumbled. But just like the façade of the Supreme Court building, it can be restored.
Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit was the first circuit court to rule on government mandates requiring pregnancy centers to post disclaimers and disclosures, declaring that such mandates violate freedom of speech, a constitutional right.
“The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision is a victory for Centro Tepeyac and other Heartbeat International affiliated pregnancy help centers that are rescuing children who were once at risk of abortion by providing practical help and emotional support to mothers who often have been abandoned and abused,” said Heartbeat International President Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D. “This decision upholding our freedom of speech affirms the life-saving work of pregnancy centers and the importance of providing alternatives to abortion.”
The first case ruled upon by the court was Centro Tepeyac v. Montgomery County; Montgomery County Council, et al, No. 11-1314 (4th Cir. 6/27/2012) in which the county passed a resolution requiring limited service pregnancy centers to display a sign bearing two statements: “The Center does not have a licensed medical professional on staff. Montgomery County Health Officer encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed health care provider.”
The second case, Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns et al v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, et al, No. 11-1111 (4th Cir. 6/27/2012) originated from Baltimore, which involved a city ordinance mandating pregnancy help organizations to post signage in two languages that “the center does not perform or refer for abortions or birth control services.”
The Fourth Circuit Court slapped down both government mandates as violations of free speech, applying strict scrutiny to its analysis of both laws.
The Court applied the same reasoning to both laws:
These rulings signal a strong victory for pregnancy help organizations, not only in Maryland, but across the country, as challenges are raised to similar attempts in other jurisdictions.
In the U.S. the politics of abortion has involved every aspect of government – executive, legislative and judicial branches; state houses and city halls; Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court; even school boards and health officials. After all of the political wrangling of the past four decades the issue is still far from settled.
Yet, the girl who walks into our care isn’t thinking about the “right” determined by seven justices in 1973. She isn’t considering the legal definition of personhood that would apply to her unborn child. She’s focused on a choice that she will carry the consequences of for the rest of her life. The politics are not even remotely a primary concern.
Kind-hearted, compassionate, pregnancy help folks often similarly eschew the politics and the public arena to focus their energies on this non-political client. They are not expecting to change a law at the nation’s capital, but instead are intent upon touching the life (lives) sitting in their counseling room. And while the inconclusive debates rage in far away capitols, the clear result of a baby being born shows the everyday effectiveness of our compassionate efforts.
Yet, the politics of abortion has spilled over into direct legislative attacks on pregnancy centers, and now abortions will be funded through state and national healthcare. For many it has been easy to avoid the politics and focus on the clients. Unfortunately, the politics has come now to us. Nathan Burd, former Public Policy staffer at Heartbeat, said it this way, “You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you.”
Worse yet, limiting ourselves to only championing non-political compassion service efforts to reduce abortion is to gravely miss the reality that politicians are intent on increasing abortion through the legislative process. Even amidst the recent move of a majority of the populous to self-identify as “pro-life,” abortion is no longer just a “right” that is allowed by a Supreme Court decision, but it has become a healthcare option that must be funded and supported by everyone.
What we want less of, we tax. What we want more of, we subsidize.
Subsidies for abortion are set to increase at exponential levels in the U.S. through new health care laws. The recent Supreme Court decision clarifies that a tax will be levied against those who fail to buy insurance that must cover abortifacients. (Not even religious organizations are exempt.)
This must motivate our pregnancy help movement to get even more involved with political process. It is hypocritical for the interventionist to miss an opportunity for prevention.
Intervening with compassion will always be our primary calling. Yet missing the opportunity for prevention by influencing politics is to virtually guarantee that we will only have an increasing number of people in our counseling rooms who need our intervention. True compassion is doing both – intervening with those who are in the valley of decision and preventing others from ever needing our intervention.
Can we be non-political? Perhaps it is possible at an organizational level where we purposefully avoid certain “political” activities due to our tax status or for public relations positioning. But it seems less and less possible in this era for each of us individually where politics is not only coming to our door but poised to dramatically increase the number of clients that we might serve.
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