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Doreen Denny

Pro-life Progress in Congress Won’t Come Without a Fight

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Late last week, the House and Senate wrapped up a conference on a spending bill package for the departments of Labor, HHS, and Education, coupled with the Department of Defense (LHHS/DOD).  Conferees also agreed to add a short-term continuing resolution (CR) for remaining federal agencies to get beyond the November election without a government shutdown.  While not the same “omnibus” appropriations bill that we have seen most years, this “minibus” package covers the lion’s share of fiscal year 2019 discretionary spending across the entire federal government.  Unfortunately, in the process of negotiating differences between the House and Senate bills, all provisions that would have advanced pro-life and religious liberty policies that were in the House version were rejected as “poison pills” by conference leadership.  These “riders” included legislation for which CWALAC has been fighting: the Conscience Protection Act, defunding abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, banning aborted fetal tissue research, and including faith-based agencies in adoption and foster care.
 
Reacting to this unfortunate denial of conservative priorities, all of which had been approved in earlier action by House appropriators, CWALAC CEO and President Penny Nance said:
 
“It is highly disappointing that the only ‘rider’ conference negotiators could make a deal on was a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown.  Conservative House appropriators fought the good fight for many new pro-life and conscience protection provisions that are desperately needed to prevent taxpayer funds from propping up the abortion industry year after year.   
 
“We need leaders to stand up for innocent life and stand firm to make progress.  It won’t come without the willingness to fight to the end for our principles.  If deals were made in these negotiations, then it is pretty clear who was on the losing side.  Our members want to see results, and unfortunately, once again, pro-life and conscience protection priorities were sidelined.”  
 
In further evidence of the steep climb ahead in this fight for progress, the Senate this week approved the LHHS/DOD spending package by a vote of 93-7 without a fight.  We’ll see next week if the House follows suit.   

Sen. Hirono Should Step Up for Justice

By | Blog, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS | No Comments

As a woman and as an American,  I’m dismayed by the message Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) delivered this week telling  “men of this country and the men in this committee” to “just shut up and step up” to the allegation of sexual assault from 36 years ago against Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  Let’s be clear, these allegations are just that — allegations. They are not facts backed up by evidence, and they are unsubstantiated by eyewitnesses.  Judge Kavanaugh, under oath, has categorically denied the claims. And yet, Sen. Hirono has served as judge and jury in condemning not only Judge Kavanaugh, but all men as complicit in the process.

Make no mistake, this is a form of sexism of an insidious nature.  In her rush to condemn, Sen. Hirono is exploiting the sexes, advocating a culture that favors, without questions, the accuser over the accused (even when wrongly accused). Her misguided view lacks any standard of justice.  She is making a mockery of the judicial system and the oath she took to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States that expresslyprotects due process.

We should fear for our children — girls and boys — and the message this sends.  What exactly is the purpose of Sen. Hirono asking men to “shut up and step up”?  Truth?  Justice?  Hardly. Ironically, truth is exactly what the 11 Republican “old white men” on the Senate Judiciary Committee are trying to seek.  Since learning of these 11thhour allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, which Sen. Hirono’s own colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), concealed for months, the Senate Judiciary Committee has set out to investigate these claims, as is their obligation under Senate rules.  Chairman Chuck Grassley has offered any way possible for this accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, to be interviewed and/or to testify in public or private.  This offer has so far gone unaccepted (but he continues graciously to maintain the offer open).

Senate Democrats are looking more and more complicit in colluding with her handlers to set the terms and conditions under which her testimony might be heard to further their ultimate objective of delaying the nomination until after the election and ultimately derailing it altogether.

Make no mistake, too many women have faced sexual assault without the confidence of due process to come forward. But Sen. Hirono’s rant, essentially condemning the male race as abusers first, disregards the very standards of justice that underpin civility and our freedom.   Yes, the #MeToo era has merit, but not at the expense and erosion of the foundations of our democracy.  Sen. Hirono should step up for justice, for women and for men, and perform her duty to uphold the Constitution that she swore under oath to defend.

CWALAC Letter in Support of Kavanaugh

By | Kennedy, Legal, News and Events, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

Today, Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women LAC sent the following letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In addition to the nominee’s impressive judicial qualifications and strength of character, the letter highlights Judge Kavanaugh’s advancement of women in the legal field:

“As the largest public policy organization for women in the country, CWALAC takes special note of Judge Kavanaugh’s commitment to the development of women in the legal field…Judge Kavanaugh employed the first all-female class of law clerks in the history of the D.C. Circuit Court, and more than half of his law clerks have been women. There is no question that his incredible efforts to advance women in the legal field will yield incredible fruit for generations to come.”

Click here to access the letter (.PDF).

Kavanaugh Hearings Scheduled for September 4-7. Contact Your Senators Today!

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Immediately following Labor Day when much of Washington returns to a normal schedule, the Senate will hold a week of hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy to the Supreme Court.  It’s a moment for which CWA has been waiting – and working.  As the Women for Kavanaugh bus tour concludes this week rallying support across the country, we now turn our attention to the process required to get the Kavanaugh nomination across the finish line.

The first step in this process is the Committee hearing. Here is what to expect:  Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has announced a hearing schedule for the week of September 4-7.  Day 1 of the hearings will include an introduction of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and opening statements by members of the Committee.   Days 2 and 3 will be when Committee members asking questions of the nominee, putting Judge Kavanaugh on the hot seat.  Day 4 will include testimony from outside witnesses and the American Bar Association.   As the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings are happening, CWA will be on Capitol Hill standing in support of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation and praying for Judge Kavanaugh and the Committee as they do their work.   We expect just as many voices will be railing against him, pressuring members of the Senate to oppose his nomination.

Leading up to the hearings, it is more important than ever for Senators to hear from their constituents, whether they have announced publicly how they plan to vote or not.  We need your voice of support to be heard by your Senators TODAY in order for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to succeed.   You can send a letter of support by connecting to our CWA Action Center HERE. This link will take you to a letter that you can personalize and send directly to the U.S. Senators for your state.  Thank you for taking time to do this NOW!

Pro-Religious Liberty Measure Awaits Needed Action in Congress

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The House and Senate are out of session this week but will face a crucial religious freedom question when they both return.  Last month the House  Appropriations Committee adopted a pro-religious liberty amendment modeled after the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act (H.R. 1881, S.811) in its markup of the Labor-HHs appropriations bill.  This legislation in no way excludes any eligible agency from providing child welfare services, including agencies who choose to adopt to LGBT parents or single parents; it simply prevents the government from infringing upon a faith-based agencies’ sincerely held religious beliefs. Over 437,000 children exist in the foster care system, and approximately 117,000 are currently eligible for adoption. Excluding providers based on religious values hurts these vulnerable children who are waiting and hoping to be placed in loving homes.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia made a desperate plea for more foster families to help care for hundreds of children needing homes, many coming into the system due to the opioid crisis plaguing the city.  Days later, the city of Philadelphia halted all child placements through two of the top-performing agencies, Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services, because of their belief that children should be placed in a home with a mother and a father. A federal judge recently ruled that these religious charities must adhere to the government’s view of an eligible family, thus violating their sincerely held religious beliefs, in order to be eligible agencies. Philadelphia has forced two out of 30 agencies to close for not doing what the other 28 would do. This is why the Inclusion Act is so crucial; government discrimination against people of faith and agencies who represent them must end. This hurts mothers who want to place children in homes that align with her beliefs, it hurts children who are desperate for good homes, and it violates the  foundation of  our religious liberties as a nation.

Breaking new ground in the fight for religious freedom in Congress is possible, but won’t be easy.  Opponents who view including faith-based agencies in any federal program as a threat to LGBT rights are waging an all-out assault against the measure included in the House appropriations bill.  We need your voice to embolden members of Congress to stand up for the freedom of birthmothers and faith-based agencies to express their religious values without threat of government discrimination.

Calling on Congress to Prioritize the Sexual Assault Kit Backlog

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While much of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s focus will turn to the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, other important legislative business remains on its agenda, including the reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act. In 2004, Congress passed the Debbie Smith Act, named for a victim of a violent sexual assault, to increase the capacity of states to analyze sexual assault kits and help eliminate the backlog of untested kits that delay justice for victims of rape.

After nearly 15 years and over a billion dollars later, eliminating the backlog is far from resolved, and the National Institute of Justice cannot even quantify the extent of the problem. Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) is insisting that improvements be made to ensure Debbie Smith grant program funds be used to account for the full extent of the backlog problem and prioritize testing of sexual assault kits over other DNA analysis.

The need for such a priority in our criminal justice system is greater than ever. According to the Center for Disease Control National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 21.3 percent of women reported being raped in their lifetime, and the problem is only increasing. In 2010 1.3 million women reported being raped; in 2015 that number rose to 1.5 million.

During a recent Senate Judiciary Committee, rape victim, Amanda Nguyen, shared the chilling reality of how forensic evidence is collected following a rape: “Most people don’t know this, but rape kit examinations last three to seven hours; mine was six hours long,” recounted Ms. Nguyen, founder of Rise, “That’s because your body, my body, was the crime scene.”

CWALAC is seeking justice for victims of rape and sexual assault by calling on Congress to prioritize analysis of sexual assault kits and fully account for the backlog of rape kits sitting on shelves in law enforcement offices and crime labs across the country.

Weekly Update for June 9, 2018 from CWA’s Legislative Department

By | News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life, Senate Legislative Updates | No Comments

Washington, D.C. – This week amplified the call to defund Planned Parenthood with shocking new evidence of how abortion clinics have engaged in aiding abusers and intimidating employees from not reporting client sexual abuse. Live Action’s report, Aiding Abusers:  Planned Parenthood’s Cover-up of Child Sexual Abuse, compiles court cases, reports from state health departments, testimonies from former employees, and interviews with survivors to uncover Planned Parenthood’s culture of complicity and unwritten “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.   For example, documented cases have involved girls as young as 12 and 13 years old whose perpetrators, including their own fathers, forced them to abort their pregnancies.  Planned Parenthood did not report the abuse to authorities as required by law and then sent these wounded girls out the door with their abusers.

This unconscionable track record is why the Trump Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule includes a provision requiring any recipient of Title X family planning funds to comply with all state and local laws on reporting child sexual abuse, molestation, incest, rape, intimate partner violence and human trafficking.

On Thursday, 56 pro-life Senators called on the Trump Administration to investigate Planned Parenthood’s failure to report suspected sexual abuse of minors in their care through the Title X program.  In a letter to HHS Secretary Azar, Senators request all records of incidents of failure to report abuse, documentation of consequences, and data from the past decade of how many children below the age of consent were served and how many reports of abuse were made.

These developments further the importance for every member of CWA to go to our website’s special page, ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule, and submit a comment supporting all provisions of the Administration’s proposed Protect Life Rule.  We have a unique opportunity to speak loudly for those who cannot speak for themselves, to protect life and those who give life, to thank this Administration for standing on the side of life and against abortion and abuse.   Please comment today!