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Chairman Grassley Announces Kavanaugh Hearings to begin September 4

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Washington D.C. — Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) announced that the hearing for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States will begin on September 4.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued the following statement: 

“We applaud Senator Chuck Grassley for swiftly moving along Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings so the Supreme Court seat vacated by Anthony Kennedy can be filled quickly. Concerned Women for America’s ‘Women for Kavanaugh’ six state bus tour spent time this week at Senator Grassley’s townhalls in Iowa, and we saw how enthusiastic Americans – especially women – are about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“While those on the left will cry that the timing is short, Judge Kavanaugh’s name was listed last November on President Trump’s short list of possible nominees if a Supreme Court vacancy should occur. They have had additional months over the summer to gather documents, read cases, and interview Judge Kavanaugh himself. And just because it’s an election year, it does not mean that Judge Kavanaugh cannot – or should not – be confirmed. There have been at least four Justices nominated and confirmed in midterm election years.

“It’s time for the public to hear from President Trump’s nominee and learn first-hand just how well-qualified he is to hold the position of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.”

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.

PRESS RELEASE: Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii choose Planned Parenthood over care for women

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Washington, D.C. — On July 31, the public comment period ended on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services new Protect Life Rule which requires physical and financial separation between abortion services and Title X dollars. Since then, 14 states have threatened to sue the federal government while the governors of Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii have decided that their states will pull out of the program entirely should this proposed rule be put into effect.

Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, issued the following statement: 

“Concerned Women for America supporters and other pro-life women recently filed several thousand comments in support of President Trump’s common-sense reform prohibiting abortionist from receiving Title X funds. Our message is simple: abortion is not health care.

“The new HHS policy means that real healthcare providers will be able to compete for and win the $286 million available for contraceptives and other family planning services.  By the way, the statute is very clear that abortion is not family planning. This new rule only enforces the law already in place.
“The fact that the governors of Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii, are willing to take a pass on approximately $10 million and instead choose Planned Parenthood over care for poor women is shocking.  This is an unmasking of the radical ideology behind abortion and proof that healthcare for women was never the point.
“This is nothing more than a political stunt.  The good news is that HHS can by-pass state governments and award grants directly to healthcare providers. Now faith-based health clinics and other charities, who were squeezed out of the process due to the Obama era’s rules forcing them to refer for abortions, can step forward to care for the least of these.

“This is one more example of President Trump keeping his promise to support life.”

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

PRESS RELEASE: #WomenforKavanaugh Bus Tour to Hit Eight States, Rally Conservative Women

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Washington, D.C. — Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, will kick off the #WomenforKavanaugh Bus Tour on August 8 in Des Moines, Iowa. The eight-state bus tour will rally conservative women to use their voices to support Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

“This is the moment conservative women and evangelical voters have been waiting for and a huge reason why they voted for President Trump,” said Penny Nance, CEO and President of Concerned Women for America. “This grassroots bus tour will utilize CWA state directors, chapter leaders, and volunteers across the nation to rally behind Judge Kavanaugh and demonstrate that he is abundantly qualified to serve on the United States Supreme Court.”

The #WomenforKavanaugh tour will hit cities in Iowa, West Virginia, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Alabama and run from August 8-21.
Details on the tour can be found at www.womenforkavanaugh.com.
“This in an historic moment for our nation, and I could not be more proud to stand alongside conservative women across the country in support of Judge Kavanaugh,” continued Nance. “Judge Kavanaugh is uniquely qualified, fair, and impartial and fulfills President Trump’s campaign promise to nominate a constitutional conservative to the Supreme Court.”
A full list of stops are below:
  • Wednesday, August 8: Des Moines, Iowa
  • Thursday, August 9: Des Moines and Corning, Iowa
  • Friday, August 10: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Saturday, August 11: Charleston and Fairlea, West Virginia
  • Sunday, August 12: Louisville, Kentucky
  • Monday, August 13: St. Louis, Missouri, with stop-offs at Hazelwood, Missouri, and St. Charles, Missouri
  • Tuesday, August 14: Jefferson City, Missouri, with stops in O’Fallon, Wentzville, Columbia
  • Wednesday, August 15:  Sedalia, Missouri
  • Thursday, August 16: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with stop-offs in Omaha, Nebraska; Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Sioux City, Iowa;
  • Friday, August 17: Fargo, North Dakota
  • Tuesday, August 21: Birmingham, Alabama

 

For an interview with Penny Nance contact Annabelle Rutledge at [email protected] or 916-792-3973.

Title X comment period ends with thousands of comments supporting Protect Life Rule

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Thank you all so much for your participation and work submitting comments to the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the administration’s proposed Title X rule. The comment period for this rule closed on Tuesday. Just a refresher, Title X is a voluntary grant program that was enacted in the 70s to provide low income individuals with family planning services. The statute specifically says that abortion is not family planning and no funds can go toward abortion operations, but that hasn’t stopped the abortion industry from grabbing these funds and using them to prop up their abortion business. This new rule would require Title X grant recipients to detangle their abortion operations from Title X activity, better adhering to the law.

Concerned Women for America supporters were responsible for submitting thousands of comments supporting this rule; thank you!  HHS received over 200,000 comments and upon some brief preliminary investigation of our own, it appears that the majority of these comments are supportive of the rule. This was not the result we were expecting, but it is reflective of where the American people stand on taxpayer funded abortions and abortion activities. Polls continually show that about 6 in 10 Americans oppose taxpayer dollars from being used toward abortions, and that includes people who identify as pro-choice. Americans want out of the abortion business, and this proposed rule is an important step to detangle the abortion industry from government funding.

From here, HHS will review the comments and then they submit a final rule based on feedback. This will take at least a few months and then these rules will apply to future Title X grants. We hope that when grants are announced in August 2019 this rule will be implemented, and this program will no longer be used as a slush fund for the abortion industry. We do anticipate several states will sue HHS over this rule, which could delay implementation, but this rule is supported by Supreme Court precedent. In 1991 the Supreme Court upheld similar, more stringent rules, proposed by the Reagan administration in Rust v. Sullivan, and there have been no significant cases since then that would impact the precedent set by Rust.

It is unfortunate the pro-choice side had to resort to blatant lies and fear mongering in their opposition to this rule. They know that life is winning in America, and public opinion on abortion is shifting. We are a pro-life nation, and the abortion industry’s free ride on the backs of taxpayers is coming to an end.

Abortion is no laughing matter

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In 1997, my mother was nineteen years old, on a path to throwing her life away, and found herself impregnated by a man she barely knew. He denied her. He denied I was his. Her parents shunned her in extreme disappointment and urged her to have an abortion, because she would be unable to care for me. My mom thought her mind was made up. Abortion. She thought it was her only option. Our nation has made it so easy for vulnerable and hurting women to walk into an abortion clinic without knowing their options. A good Samaritan spoke truth into my mom’s life and helped save my life, but the reality of how close I was to never experiencing life outside the womb is something with which I still wrestle.

As I sit at my desk reading a Teen Voguearticle titled, “Lady Parts Justice League Fights Anti-Abortion Stigma with Humor,” I can’t help but ask myself, am I living in my worst nightmare? My eyes fill with tears of frustration and anger courses through my veins as I force myself to finish reading Solange Azor’s article. I want to understand. What is the purpose and goal of the Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL)?

My conclusion: the goal is to normalize abortion at any stage and for any reason by using humor to ease the tension and emotional trauma that comes hand in hand with the hardest decision of a woman’s life.

Let’s be honest, this group is essentially saying that the murder of an unborn, innocent child is something at which everyone should laugh, just as they would a casual joke. Azor informs us that the Lady Parts Justice League (LPJL) not only believes that abortion should be legal but that it should also be widely socially accepted, regardless of the reason behind it.

One of the most common pro-choice opinions is what I refer to as the “cosmic shrug.” This is when a woman says she is “socially pro-choice and personally pro-life.” Sorry ladies, that isn’t good enough for LPJL. They want it to be so normalized that it is seen as just another routine medical procedure. LPJL uses tactics such as throwing barbecues/parties, staging counter protests, forming fake abortion clinics to draw in protesters, and memes to promote their “Vagical Mystery Tour,” which toured sixteen U.S. cities last summer. Because when someone is murdered, you should just throw a party and celebrate, right?

Abortion isn’t a joke by any definition, and to refer to it as a laughing matter disrespects not only women but all human life. No matter your stance on abortion, when a child is killed in the womb simply because they are still in the womb, it impacts the value of your life.

Abortion is the murder of a human being who has rights and potential. When a child outside the womb is murdered, there is an uproar in society. People demand the highest punishment and feel great sympathy for the family. How is it any different if the child is living in his/her mother’s womb? We wouldn’t dare laugh at a woman who miscarried when six months pregnant, so why are we making it a point to laugh at an unborn child’s life being taken away for any reason?

It would have been so easy for my mother to go to an abortion clinic and make the decision to end my life just because hers had become hard. My mom’s mind was made up, because she didn’t know that there was any other option for her. It took one phone call from one person to give my mom the strength she needed to choose life and to raise me. Here I am 20 years later, and I couldn’t be more thankful. If you ask my mom, saving my life saved hers. My birth is the reason she turned her life around and became a loving mother, kind daughter, and contributing member to society.

With all the joy that my birth brought her, my mom always carried the guilt that she almost ended my life before I even got a chance to see the world. When I found out three years ago, it changed my entire perspective on the topic of abortion. It opened my eyes to the suddenly real and painful repercussions of abortion and how so many people’s lives would look completely different if I wasn’t born. For seventeen years, my mom struggled to forgive herself for almost aborting me. My self-confidence suffered because of it for a prolonged time. I felt that my life wasn’t worth anything to the most important people in my life. The long-term mental impact is something my mom and I are still working through today and through which we will continue to suffer.

It is not a blessing and a gift that my mother was even afforded the option to end my life. It is not a joke that some people believed that I didn’t have the right to my own life. It is not comical that unborn children are being denied that right every day.

The second line of Azor’s article reads, “Yes, abortion can be funny.” As a pro-life woman and a survivor of the abortion epidemic plaguing our country, I am here to inform you that abortion is not funny. So, listen up Lady Parts Justice League, there is a new feminist army in town, and we are here to tell you that your jokes aren’t funny. No one is laughing.

Lillian Knight serves as YWA President at Louisiana State University 

 


A version of this piece was published by the Washington Examiner.

YWA in Israel: Gaza and Tel Aviv (Days 9 & 10)

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DAY 9

This was one of the most impactful visits for our bus! We drove from Jerusalem to the border of the Gaza Strip and toured Nativa Elseron, a Kibbutz right on the border.

A woman from the community, Ronni, shared her story and the realities of living on the border with constant threats, bomb shelters, and missile alarms. On our way to visit with Ronni, we walked past a children’s daycare. Toddlers played outside as Ronni explained the reason for the layout of the play area and the system for gathering children inside when there are security threats. It was sobering to understand the reality of their life. Many of our girls raised the question, “Why do you stay here?” Their response, “Why would we leave? This is our home.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Israel is a small nation, and there aren’t many places to which you can run. The Israelis who live in the border towns near Gaza are not willing to uproot their lives and allow Hamas terrorists to win. They have adjusted. They rely on excellent Israeli security, the Iron Dome, and the Israeli Defense Forces to keep them safe. They understand that there is risk to living there. In actuality, they explained how their daily lives are similar to Israelis across Israel. Walking through their Kibbutz and driving in the bus, it was easy to understand their point of view that day. It was a beautiful sunny day with no threats from across the border. Kids were playing outside, and moms were sitting on their porches. It was a normal day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the flip side of the same coin, Sderot, the city where we were, is different from other cities in Israel. In Sderot, it is hard to look around without seeing a bomb shelter. At first you might not see it, but that bus stop is a shelter and so is the play structure at the playground. This is an area where when the siren goes off, you have eight seconds to find shelter. Israel has made sure that bomb shelters are abundant. Each house is equipped with one room that acts as a shelter. This is their reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our young ladies were thankful for the opportunity to tour this area, meet Ronni and tour this Kibbutz. Because of fire kites sent from Gaza to ravage the Israeli border towns and intense rocket fire from Hamas that has significantly increased this summer, we were one of the few buses who were cleared to visit Sderot on their tour.

 

DAY 10

We spent our last full day in Tel Aviv before flying out late that night to the United States. We toured Jaffa, the port from which Jonah fled, and the House of Simon. We also visited Independence Hall where Israel declared its independence on May 14, 1948. We sat in the room and listened to recordings of David Ben-Gurion pronouncing the establishment of the State of Israel.

The 10 days spent in Israel were FULL, a little exhausting, but absolutely life-changing. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and followed along!

Here are some closing thoughts from participants:

“From being baptized in the same river where Jesus was baptized to floating in the Dead Sea, sailing on the Sea of Galilee, reading the Scripture in the land where the stories took place, praying and crying at the Western Wall, observing traditional and modern Israeli culture, visiting the Garden Tomb where Jesus was buried and where He rose again, learning about the geopolitical issues that plague the region, worshipping in Jerusalem, and making new best friends, Israel was an absolute dream! I embarked on this journey to discover the roots of my faith, and I left having accomplished that and so much more. I was blessed to grow not only in my faith, but in my role as a leader and advocate for the peace of Israel. I am in awe of the resilience of this nation and its people, and I am eternally grateful to have been a part of God’s story in the Holy Land.” Brittany McMillian, YWA Chapter member, University of Alabama

“When I first heard about the YWA trip to Israel, I was instantly interested and had a desire to go; however, I thought that I would just forget about it and never follow through. Fast forward to the day that the application was due, I found out the cost of the trip, the details of the schedule, and that three of my best friends had decided to apply. I had gotten the “okay” from my parents to apply, and the only thing that was holding me back from attending the trip was an overwhelming sense of fear and worry. I was fearful of going to a country with such controversy, fearful of traveling there, and was feeling as if the Lord was telling me that this trip might not be for me. I prayed about it and went to a worship night on campus to gain some clarity and realized that fear and worry are not of the Lord; they are from Satan. I realized that only fruitful and glorifying things for the Lord would occur from a trip to Israel, and that I was letting Satan get ahold of me. With only about 10 minutes left until the deadline, I quickly submitted my application, and am so grateful I did. This trip to Israel blessed me in so many ways, and I had the most incredible experience learning more about who Jesus is and taking some of His very same steps in the Holy Land. I grew in my relationship with Him and was constantly encouraged and inspired by the amazing group leaders and other girls on the trip. It truly was an experience of a lifetime!” Olivia Szolack, YWA participant, Liberty University

“My time in Israel changed my life. From picking up rocks at the Sea of Galilee to visiting the peace wall along the Gaza Strip, I learned so much about all that has happened and is happening there. Coming home I brought with me a bag of Israeli snacks, but also a passion for Israel and all of its people! I will never stop praying for the Israeli people, especially the ones that had such a huge impact on me while I was there. And to the amazing girls I got to travel with; each one of you taught me so much about life and friendship. I am so, so blessed. The past eleven days have given me memories that I will carry with me forever. Thank you to each person who poured into me during this trip; our God is real. He is alive! And we all got to walk in His holy land! I am so thankful.” Abby Voggenreiter, YWA member, Liberty University

YWA in Israel: Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets and the Jewish State (Days 7 & 8)

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DAY 7: Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets

Our morning began in the historic Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. It encapsulates exactly what you picture Jerusalem to be. Compared to the other quarters in the Old City, it is calm and quiet while simultaneously bustling and full of life.

We walked through the City of David, parts of which are still being excavated, and trekked through Hezekiah’s tunnel. Hezekiah’s tunnel was carved during the reign of Hezekiah to allow water to go from one side of the city to the other. It is considered one of the greatest works of water engineering in the pre-classical period.

The water from Hezekiah’s tunnel fed into the Siloam pool where Jesus healed the blind man. We did a little interpretive Bible story reading with Dr. Allen Quine, Vice President of International Relations at Museum of the Bible, before heading back to the hotel to hear from our speakers for the night, David Nekrutman and Steven Khouri.

“Traveling to, and through, The City of David as well as the Jewish Quarter was yet another piece of the Bible coming to life. The Jewish Quarter is unlike any other quarter in Israel. It is pristine, full of beautiful shops and, of course, lots of history. Later we traveled to the City of David. Overlooking the City of David and knowing where David resided and the things he did makes the Bible come to life. You truly realize David was no different than any other man; his heart was full of sin just as is ours. God does not call the perfect to lead, He instead perfects the called and that is such a beautiful thing to be remembered.  From the lookout before entering the tunnels, you see this beautiful view of limestone buildings and land that goes as far as the eye can see; you see the beauty that is Israel. From there we traveled through the tunnels known as “Hezekiah’s Tunnels”; it is as if you are traveling back in time walking through these tunnels carved so long ago. These experiences added a new perspective to my life for which I am forever grateful.” Alixanne Kramer, YWA President, Tucson, Arizona Chapter

 

DAY 8: The Jewish State

There weren’t many pictures from day eight as we spent it at two museums and ended with another speaker.

We were given the opportunity to go to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum which is recognized as the most impactful holocaust museum in the world. It was an incredibly sobering experience.

“As a self-proclaimed history buff, I thought I had learned all there was to know about the Holocaust. And yes, I did know most of the statistics, facts, and numbers, but it wasn’t until visiting Yad Vashem that I learned what the Holocaust truly means to the people whom it affected. Instead of numbers, I saw brothers, sisters, friends, mommies and daddies. I heard their beautiful stories of survival and sorrow. I felt a tiny fraction of the hole this tragedy left in a people already so scarred, but I also felt the hope and resilience of that same people. After each exhibit, the design of the building allows you to see the sunshine coming through the floor-to-ceiling window at the end of the hall. After each horror, you are able to see the light waiting for you, just as the Jewish people always do. Yad Vashem is not just a museum or a memorial. It is the embodiment of a people whose hope comes from the Lord and can, therefore, never be taken from them.” Ashley Henson, YWA Chapter President, University of Alabama

After Yad Vashem, we headed to the Israel Museum, Israel’s National Museum where portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display.

Our day ended with a speaker, Rami Nazzal, who is a Palestinian journalist. Learning and understanding differing perspectives was a key component of our trip. Israel is a diverse nation with diverse opinions, religions, and cultures. To go to Israel and only hear one point of view would not be an accurate portrayal of the only democracy in that part of the world. Because of that, we were so thankful to have the opportunity to hear the Palestinian perspective.

“One of the highlights of our trip was getting to explore the complications of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Each night, we heard from a diverse set of speakers who further expanded our understanding. A particular speaker who stood out to me was Rami Nazzal. Rami is a Palestinian journalist who speaks to the experiences of Palestinian people in the land. When it comes to developing a political stance on any issue, I think it is crucial to fully explore both perspectives, as we know it is people’s personal narratives that have shaped their perspective of the world. Rami shared with us “the other side” of the conflict, particularly through narratives of Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas’ control. On the forefront of his lecture was the failing economy of the West Bank and Gaza. Similar to what I had learned in prior Terrorism classes in school, Rami believed that the failing economy was a main contributing factor to the radicalization of terrorists. This point of his lecture raised various questions about proposed solutions; particularly, is it the responsibility of Israel to intervene? Has Israel done too much already? A particular point of Rami’s argument that stood out to me was when a student asked him about his view of the BDS movement. Coming from a campus where the student government passed BDS, I was familiar with the issue, but surprised at what Rami had to say regarding it.  He said that while BDS might seem like a good idea to people who support Palestine, in reality, it hurts Palestinians more than helps. He gave the example of a Palestinian manufacturing employee working for an Israeli company; at the end of the day, divestment would be hurting the Palestinian man working on the manufacturing line before it would hurt the CEO. I am grateful to have heard from Rami and even more grateful that Israel’s commitment to democracy allowed for this type of dialogue to occur in the Middle East. The conflict is complex, even more so than I initially thought; however it is these types of discussion that need to occur so we can see peace in the land!” Alba Ibraj, YWA Chapter President, University of Michigan

#WomenforKavanaugh gearing up for state battles

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This week has been full of #WomenforKavanaugh campaign planning and strategizing, and our excitement continues to build! CWA’s National Field Director, Janae Stracke, and General Counsel, Mario Diaz, have been on the phone with state leaders in key states to discuss local events, billboard ads, radio time, opinion editorials, and rallies in their states.

When strategizing for any CWA campaign, one of our main goals is to make sure we’re being good stewards of our funds. We do a cost benefit analysis and consider the return of investment. We want to make sure we get the most bang for our buck and end with measurable results.

In this case, the timing has worked in our favor, and we plan to center our main efforts around several state fairs, which automictically increases our constituent interaction. Every state is important in this battle, but we will be focusing extra efforts in Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Missouri, and Montana. If you or someone you know wants to join forces with CWA’s #WomenforKavanaugh campaign or donate to the campaign, visit www.womenforkavanaugh.com or email us at [email protected].

Something you may also consider is writing a letter to the editor for your local paper expressing your support of Judge Kavanaugh. You can find helpful talking points at www.womenforkavanaugh.com.

Let’s unite to support justice for the millions of brave women who’ve survived sexual assault

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This week I am scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to examine federal funding of DNA analysis — with the goal of promoting justice for victims of crime.  As a survivor of assault and attempted rape on a Virginia running path, I am honored to testify in regard to the reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Act, a program within the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that funds the processing of DNA rape kits.

First enacted in 1994 by President Clinton, VAWA has been a hotbed of conflict, deeply dividing party lines — with both sides taking part in public mud-slinging and scare tactics. But, now more than ever, it is time to try to find common ground, and focus on bringing justice and relief to the millions of brave American women who have survived violence and sexual assault.

Over the twenty-four years of VAWA’s existence, the Office of Violence Against Women has distributed over 7.6 billion dollars to VAWA grant recipients.  During this time, Concerned Women for America has had a love-hate relationship with VAWA.  The fight against sexual exploitation is one of CWA’s seven core issues, and as the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, we applaud any efforts to reduce violence or bring support to victims.

However, we believed combating violence against women was (in most cases) most effectively organized at the state level.  In addition, we have been concerned over the lack of conscience provisions for faith-based service providers.  For example, in 2011 after five years of providing services to sex trafficking victims in 44 states, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was denied participation in the program which many believed was due to their position on abortion and HHS preference for “full-range” of family planning services.

Equally frustrating is the lack of oversight and accountability, fraud, and abuse of VAWA funds. We know that between 1993 and 2010, the Inspector General reviewed twenty-two individual grantees that received VAWA funding.  Of those twenty-two, twenty-one grantees were found to have some form of “violation of grant requirements” which included unauthorized or unallowable expenditures, slipshod record keeping, and failure to report in a timely manner. And these are just a few examples.

The Debbie Smith Act is one small program within VAWA.  This program is an abundantly worthy effort and an example of the kind of work that can be achieved when we work together on a bipartisan basis.  The program has made great strides in helping states begin the hard work to clean up the backlog of unprocessed DNA but we can do better.  Through the Debbie Smith Act, we have spent over $1.2 billion to clean up state rape kit backlogs since 2004. However, due to a lack of accountability and prioritization in this program, we still have little to no idea of whether or not these funds have reached this objective.

What we do know is that in many states the rape kit backlog is still unaccounted for, and in some cases forgotten, such as in the instance of the eleven thousand kits found in an abandoned Detroit warehouse; some of these kits lay unopened and wasting for twenty five years while rape victims waited for justice.

In recent years, CWA has realized we would rather work to improve the Act and focus real and effective help to women.  Instead of raging at the darkness, we are ready to light a candle.  It is for this reason I will testify for the Debbie Smith Act, in a spirit of bi-partisan cooperation and to be sure that the next reauthorization of Debbie Smith will promote justice for victims of sexual assault. That I am sure, is something on which we can all agree.

To that goal, when I testify, I will ask the Senate Judiciary Committee for greater accountability in the Debbie Smith Act — specifically to account for the rape kit backlog — and for prioritizing the processing of rape kits over other crimes. As a condition of receipt of funds, states must be willing to come clean about the number of rape kits awaiting processing.  

Secondly, we must prioritize the DNA processing of the sexual assault kits of rape victims. We understand that processing other types of crimes can increase the chance of getting DNA hits for perpetrators of sexual assault through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), and we fully support those efforts. But let’s not forget that the first priority should be for the victims who have been waiting for justice for many years, often while enduring significant physical and psychological trauma. Justice demands that every woman represented in each of those forgotten rape kits be accounted for and their evidence processed.

Rarely can I remember a time when our nation was so deeply divided on current issues.  In an era of bi-partisan name-calling, dirt-throwing, and rampant distrust, now more than ever we must unite on an issue on which we can agree: justice and relief for the millions of brave women who have survived violence and sexual assault.

Now is the time for us to demand justice and accountability from both state and federal governments.  Each of the rape kits waiting represents a woman praying that the monster who violated her will be prosecuted before the statute of limitations’ clock runs out.  Let’s make that happen.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by Fox News. Click here to see it there.