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Charlie Gard: Why his struggle may soon be ours

By | Blog, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Charlie Gard is an innocent 11-month-old who was born with a rare genetic disease that is costly to treat. Because of that, he will now be allowed to die.

Although he lives in the U.K., Charlie’s case is not irrelevant to Americans. While frustrating and difficult, this is the reality of big government and socialized medicine. When the government becomes the ultimate decision maker, the rights of the individual are secondary. Our Founders believed that rights are endowed by God and can, therefore, only be taken away by God or by individual forfeiture. They knew that everything given by the government could also be taken by the government and, thus, designed a Constitution and system of government to protect the individual from the state.

American medicine and technology is among the most cutting edge in the world, but a socialized, single-payer health care structure, like that in the U.K., is not driven by research and cure, but profit. In 1999, the Brits established the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). According to their website, NICE is, “a special health authority, to reduce variation in the availability and quality of NHS treatments and care.” Basically, NICE unilaterally decides what treatments are profitable and which ones are, in their view, a waste of government money.

Throwing this responsibility on one entity grossly overestimates the judgment of current science. In the 20th century, contracting smallpox was a death sentence, but in 1980, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated. We wouldn’t have modern medicine if not for scientists who tackled these “incurable” diseases and brave individuals who voluntarily joined clinical trials. Research thrives in a free market system, because it must have the freedom to make mistakes in order to develop cures.

In the U.S., we do have the relative freedom to pursue alternative treatments and research cures. However, a small, yet controversial provision of ObamaCare, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), is moving us further away from a free market based health care system and is shoving us in the direction of a single-payer system.

IPAB was modeled after the British NICE and is an essentially unchecked, unprecedented, rationing board of 15 unelected bureaucrats aimed at controlling Medicare costs. Although legally IPAB cannot “ration” care, it does have the authority to control prices. IPAB can choose to drive the Medicare payments for any service so low that it no longer becomes possible for doctors to offer this service to Medicare patients. In theory, Medicare would still pay for a range of treatments, but in practice, for those who depend solely on Medicare, some services would be priced out, and voila, we have rationing.

IPAB’s recommendations will have the force of law unless they are countered by a 2/3 majority in the Senate, and the Senate can only weigh in if Congress’ total Medicare expenditures do not exceed IPAB’s recommended levels. The drafters of ObamaCare did not trust the people or their elected representatives to sustain a system that relies on the rationing of care and, thus, sought to isolate the Board from Congressional oversight and the normal checks and balances of the legislative process. As if this weren’t terrifying enough, ObamaCare exempts IPAB recommendations from either administrative or judicial review.

In 2011, then-President Obama not only defended IPAB, but argued for its price control expansion into private markets as well. IPAB was his best effort at pushing the U.S. into a socialized, single-payer system. Congress is now in the limited window of opportunity to repeal IPAB, but must act by August 15, or IPAB is permanent and can never be repealed.

IPAB is an unprecedented concession of congressional power and allowing IPAB to take effect could result in further unconstitutional delegation of congressional authority down the road. We cannot leave the care needed by some of the sickest and highest risk patients in the nation in the hands of 15 bureaucrats. Health care choices should be made by individuals in consultation with their doctors and not by the government.

We should heed Charlie’s case as an example of gross government overreach and repeal IPAB immediately.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by Fox News. View it here.

 

We are Charlie

By | News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

This morning, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., leaders of the pro-life community gathered to offer their prayers and support for Chris, Connie, and Charlie Gard of England.

Across the world, people are reacting in shock and horror at a recent ruling that grants London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital the power to choose when and how baby Charlie lives or dies. However, the almost universal outrage at the callous and injustice nature of this decision has produced a wave of people who are banding together to fight for Charlie’s life.

Penny Nance, the CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the President of the Susan B. Anthony List, and other prominent figures in the pro-life community condemned the ruling of the British court during their joint press conference . However, they also applauded both President Trump and Pope Francis for speaking about the injustice of this decision.

Penny Nance, in her statement at the press conference, noted that, “Charlie cannot speak for himself, but God gave him good parents who love him and have his best interest at heart. Surely they should be allowed to make the decision of when to quit.” These words succinctly frame the issue that has been articulated by many people around the world: whose child is Charlie Gard?

From the ruling of the British court, it appears that the government deems themselves the appropriate authority. However, the world is uniting to fight this idea and to fight for the right of Charlie’s parents to love their son in the best way that they can—by trying to give him a chance at life.

To the Great Ormond Street Hospital—the world is watching your actions. And to Charlie’s parents—there are millions of people praying for your family and for Charlie’s healing. We will never give up hope that God will change the hearts of Charlie’s doctors, and we will never give up hope that the truth will ultimately prevail.

We urge you to pray for Charlie’s release from the hospital, for his healing, and for his family as they fight for their baby boy’s life. All life has intrinsic value, and it’s time for the world to recognize this principle.

In the words of Catherine Glenn Foster, the President and CEO of Americans United for Life, “We are all Charlie.” God has big things in store for Charlie Gard’s little life, and we will never, ever stop fighting for his chance to live.

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America

Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Need Our Money

By | Legal, News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Planned Parenthood’s annual budget is a massive $1.5 billion. You provide, through your tax dollars, 41% of that.  Is this necessary? The numbers are clear, and the answer is a resounding, “No.”

To understand the financial situation of Planned Parenthood, it is helpful to examine its past two annual reports. These reports offer insight on why the federal government should shift funding away from Planned Parenthood without fear of depriving women of health care.

The two most popular and frequent arguments against shifting funding away from Planned Parenthood revolve around two specific services that Planned Parenthood provides for women: birth control and health examinations. Indeed, Planned Parenthood prides itself on promoting and supporting all aspects of women’s health. However, from 2014-2015 to 2015-2016, the numbers of services in this capacity went down significantly.

While the 2014-2015 report does not include the numbers for well-woman exams, the numbers of this service only account for 2% of all services provided by Planned Parenthood in 2015-2016. Additionally, the amount of birth control distributed through their centers went down by 140,000 from 2014-2015.

The services which liberals offer as evidence of the necessity of Planned Parenthood for women’s health care are decreasing every year, yet the numbers of abortions are growing. In the past year, the number of abortions increased by 5,000. This simple fact, found through a quick overview of Planned Parenthood’s annual report, proves the foundation for the true mission of the largest abortion provider in the nation.

Planned Parenthood, even with the decrease in specific health services, is continually growing both its excess revenue and its net assets. In the past two fiscal years, Planned Parenthood’s net assets have increased by almost $140 million with an excess revenue of $138 million.

How is this possible when Planned Parenthood’s services for women are decreasing steadily? The sad but simple answer is “abortion.” Planned Parenthood conducted 328,348 abortions in 2015-2016, and the profit from those abortions ranges anywhere from $136 million to $364 million.

Why are we funding this organization with our tax dollars?  Add to this the fact that Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation for selling aborted baby parts, and the fact is there is no reason we should be funding them.

It’s time for Congress to reevaluate federal funding for abortion. Planned Parenthood doesn’t need taxpayers’ dollars.  Abortion is not health care, but it is a lucrative business, as we have seen. It is why their services for women are slowly being overwhelmed by STD testing and abortions. Planned Parenthood’s ever-growing wealth indicates that it is more than able to raise a profit on its own.

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America

The Radical Normality of the Pro-Life View

By | Blog, Defense of Family, News and Events, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

The world is shocked by the European Court of Human Rights decision to remove 10-month-old Charlie Gard from life support against the wishes of his parents. After his doctors said there was nothing more they could do for him, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, Charlie’s parents, raised 1.6 million dollars to move Charlie from London to the United States to pursue another treatment. Charlie has a rare genetic disorder that resulted in brain damage, and while the treatment they were pursuing was experimental, it was their last option in the fight for their son’s precious life.

But the doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital said, “No.” The High Court said, “No.” The Supreme Court said, “No.” The European Court of Human Rights said, “No.” The decision was final; Charlie Gard must die, because there is more “dignity” in removing him from life support than pursuing treatment. Death has become more dignified than life. And so the world is shocked.

I am not shocked. I am heartbroken and angry, but I am not surprised. The value of life begs for consistency. The moment it became acceptable to toss aside one human life, life everywhere became less valuable. For 50 years in England and 44 years in the United States, abortion has been legal. Throughout the decades that have followed, abortion has become morally acceptable. As it became acceptable for doctors to kill unborn children, absolute moral insensitivity followed.

At first there was the argument that the fetus was not a person. It served as a moral remedy for a time, but the majority of people today agree that this notion is now baseless. Science has shown us the heartbeats of children in the womb and their response to pain. We know they are human.

There is no excuse anymore, and there has not been such an excuse for a long time. But abortions have continued, in spite of the knowledge that the heartbeat on an ultrasound is not unlike the one that beats inside of you and me.

Following the legalization of abortion in the western world, the last several decades have witnessed so-called ethicists arguing for “after-birth abortions” or infanticide, the killing of infants after they are born. “Death with dignity” — euthanasia laws — have been passed throughout Europe and various states in the U.S. Peter Singer, the well-known moral philosopher and Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, wrote, “[T]he notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.”

Abortion has put us on a slippery slope headed towards moral bankruptcy. Americans have cried out against the European courts for ruling against Charlie’s parents, for ruling against the fight for Charlie’s life. But America? We are headed down that same slope. We are on our way, unless we choose to be exceptional in our regard for all human life. Pope John Paul II said these words to America in 1987, and they are just as apropos today.

“America the beautiful! So you sing in one of your national songs. Yes, America, you are beautiful indeed, and blessed in so many ways … But your greatest beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman, and child …

“For this reason, America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take towards the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness in the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.

“The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person …”

There are many takeaways for the United States from the story of Charlie Gard, including the implications of state-run health care and parental rights. But the most prominent and the most vital to our success as a nation is a deep respect and genuine care for the intrinsic value of all human life. The idea that life is to be fought for, fiercely, until the very end should not be radical, it should be expected.

 

Annabelle Rutledge serves as Communications Coordinator for Concerned Women for America.

Time to Stop Punishing the Free Exercise of Religion

By | LBB, Legal, News and Events | No Comments

Trinity Lutheran v. Comer

Today at the U.S. Supreme Court, as was the case during oral arguments, no one showed up to support the state of Missouri in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comerreligious liberty case.  Concerned Women for America (CWA) was at the courthouse steps early, anticipating a big victory for religious freedom.  And we were not disappointed.

The Court held that the state’s policy of denying religious groups an otherwise available public benefit, solely based on their religious affiliation, violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.  The Court said, “[D]enying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”

This is a big win for religious liberty and for all Americans, regardless of their religious views.

The facts of the case were simple.  Missouri denied Trinity Lutheran a grant to install playground surfaces made from recycled tires to promote children’s safety, solely because the school was affiliated with a church.  The school had submitted an application to compete for the grant based completely on merit and was found to be in the top 5 out of 44.  Yet, Missouri denied the application stating Article I, Section 7 of the Missouri Constitution.

The Court saw straight through the state’s policy and noted the choice they were putting before Trinity Lutheran: “It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution.”

The Court noted that Trinity Lutheran did not seek an entitlement to a subsidy but merely the opportunity to compete on the same level playing field as everyone else.  It noted: “The express discrimination against religious exercise here is not the denial of a grant, but rather the refusal to allow the Church — solely because it is a church — to compete with secular organizations for a grant.”

Chief Justice John Roberts — joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — wrote the majority opinion which said, “It has remained a fundamental principle of this Court’s free exercise jurisprudence that laws imposing ‘special disabilities on the basis of . . . religious status’ trigger the strictest scrutiny.”

On this, the state failed miserably. The Court noted it “offer[ed] nothing more than Missouri’s preference for skating as far as possible from religious establishment concerns.”  And it concluded that, “In the face of the clear infringement on free exercise before the Court, that interest cannot qualify as compelling.”

The Court said its decision was plainly compelled by precedent which said that, “To condition the availability of benefits . . . upon [a recipient’s] willingness to . . . surrender his religiously impelled [status] effectively penalizes the free exercise of his constitutional liberties.”

It also emphasized that, “the Free Exercise Clause protects against ‘indirect coercion or penalties on the free exercise of religion, not just outright prohibitions.’”

Justices Thomas and Gorsuch wrote separate, concurring opinions expressing an even broader application of the First Amendment that should encourage defenders of religious freedom going forward.  Those who, like CWA, supported Justice Gorsuch’s strong religious liberty record, should be proud of his clear thinking.  He wrote separately because he, “worr[ies] that some might mistakenly read [a limiting footnote in the majority opinion] to suggest that only ‘playground resurfacing’ cases, or only those with some association with children’s safety or health, or perhaps some other social good we find sufficiently worthy, are governed by the Court’s opinion.”

 

But as noted above, this was not a “conservative opinion” that would give the enemies of religious freedom any reason to object.  The opinion was joined by Justice Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer, both from the liberal wing of the Court.

 

Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg showed themselves to be so radical in their jurisprudence that they would have upheld Missouri’s hostility toward religious people.  It bears mentioning that they stand all alone in their assessment, as even the state of Missouri had reversed course, even before the case was over, and allowed the school to compete.

 

SCOTUS Issues Decisive Win for Religious Liberty

By | Blog, Missouri, News and Events, Press Releases, Religious Liberty | No Comments

Media StatementWashington, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court just issued their opinion on Trinity Lutheran v. Comer, the most important religious liberty case of the term. In a 7 to 2 decision, the Court declared unconstitutional the state of Missouri’s discrimination of a learning center because of their religious beliefs.

Penny Nance, CEO & President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), had this to say:

“Today is a great day for religious liberty.  Everyone wins. As we said at Concerned Women for America’s rally in the front of the Supreme Court on the day of oral arguments, every mom knows that a scraped knee hurts the same at whatever school your child attends – religious or not.

“The Supreme Court has always made clear that the First Amendment in no way requires the state’s hostility towards religion, and, in this case, Missouri’s own attorney admitted they were being overly cautious by discriminating against this school.  They admitted they would not violate the constitution by giving the money to them.

“Religious institutions, like schools, hospitals, and shelters, should be encouraged in their benevolent work.  Our society has benefited from their selfless commitment to help communities since our country’s founding, and the insistence of some in our society that we push them out of the public square because their love of neighbor comes from their love of God is ridiculous.

“The hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America applaud the justices, and we hope and pray this opinion signifies the beginning of a trend towards a loosening of the constraints on liberty they’ve unwisely (and unconstitutionally) imposed on us for decades.”

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

Capitol Hill Brief — Religion and Abortion

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I have some hard news.  Thirty-seven percent of women obtaining abortions identified as evangelical or Catholic.

Though self-identification may be a poor form of measuring religious engagements, these findings show that women getting an abortion are willing to be thought of as religious, but are still willing to get an abortion.

This is a tragic failure of the Church to truly educate women on what it means to trust God’s providence and forgiveness in difficult circumstances.

What can we do to help our churches teach pro-life values and support girls who get pregnant?  I think this is a fundamental question that every Christian church has to face, and I hope you will take it in prayer today.


Join us on the front lines, defending critical issues like the sanctity of life through prayer and action. Together, we’ll bring Biblical and constitutional values back to our nation. Stand with us, and give today at www.CapitolHillBrief.org.

If you’d like to hear these commentaries on the radio, find me on your local radio station.

 

What a Trip to the Grocery Store Taught Me About Israel

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I have been in Israel for less than a week and I have already learned so much! In the Holy Land, God and history permeate the atmosphere wherever you go.

It’s Ramadan, the Muslim month-long religious observance, and tensions are noticeably high. At the Shabbat (Sabbath) meal my friend Anna and I were invited to, the host made it clear she would not recommend we go anywhere on our own.

I can’t help but be nervous as I remember stories I’ve heard on the news about terror attacks. In Israel, the possibility of an attack is a daily reality. How do Israelis live this way? I suppose they get used to it – but the fact that they have to get used to it is a tragedy in itself.

Keren, a Fellowship staff member who lives in what most of the world would call a “settlement,” drove us around her neighborhood the second day we were here. Two things she showed us stood out to me.

First, we saw the bus stop where three Jewish boys – Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali – were kidnapped in 2014. They were murdered – today, at the spot where their bodies were found, there is a beautiful park built in their honor. Kids play and family events are held in this park, and the mothers of the boys attend regularly.

The second site was a grocery store where Keren shops with her beautiful family. Here, Arabs, Jews, and Christians stand side by side as they pick out their items, and stand in the check-out line together just like any other country.

But this isn’t any other country. In this country Jews are threatened, hurt, or killed regularly by Palestinian terrorists, simply because they are Jews. Yet Jews and Arabs still stand next to each other in mundane places like the grocery store.

In light of the tension I can feel here during Ramadan, and the fact that terrorists have been waging war against Israel for decades, this seems like a miracle. Maybe, after the recent attacks in London and Manchester, the world is getting a taste of why it’s such a miracle that Israelis are still able to go about day-to-day life – that Jews and Arabs are able to mix freely and peacefully at places like that little grocery store.

There’s so much to learn here in Israel and I’m so excited to see what God has in store. I’ve already seen Him move and I’m confident He’ll show me more. God has such a heart for Israel, and I can’t wait to see more of it through His eyes.

Editor’s Note: Claire Nance is a Christian college student interning with The Fellowship in Israel this summer. She’s from Washington, D.C., and studies Communications with a minor in International Relations at Liberty University in Virginia. This post was first published on the blog of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Don’t Let Them Win

By | News and Events, Religious Issues | No Comments

In late May, the world was once again struck by the evils of radical Islamic terror. Seven innocent lives were lost and countless more injured in a type of attack that is becoming all too common. In an increasingly dark and violent world, it can be difficult to find God. Where was He when three men decided to rampage through the streets of London? Where was He when innocent people died? And where was He when people cried out for help?

All around the world, people are asking these questions, longing to make sense of the chaos that surrounds them. As Christians, it is our responsibility to be ready to answer these questions, because we must “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [us] to give the reason for the hope that [we] have” (1 Peter 3:15). We are not defeated by the darkness, and we must fulfill our calling as the salt and light of the world.

Yet, every time we doubt the sovereignty of God, and every time we allow the terrorists to strike fear into our hearts, we let them win. However, it is important for Christians to acknowledge these questions that can be difficult to answer for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ.

While the world around us continually rejects the truth, we must live out this one fact: God is sovereign. This is our comfort and our joy as we face events such as the terrorist attack in London. This is also the answer to the question, “Why?” It isn’t an answer that the world likes, and it isn’t an answer that the world accepts, but it is an answer that allows us to trust that God is in control — no matter what.

Jesus reminded His disciples that, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). But, after this warning, He offered a reminder that is extremely poignant for today: “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” For the sake of those who lost their lives, don’t let the terrorists win. We must carry on with our heads held high. One day Jesus will return in victory, and all will be made new. This promise is our hope when the world turns upside down.

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America.

Victory for CSU Students for Life Group

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CSU campus by Spilly816 (own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Students for Life won a decided victory this past week when it reached a settlement with Colorado State University (CSU) in its fight for equal standing with other school organizations. In January Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on behalf of the Students for Life chapter at CSU after the university denied funding to the group because of the pro-life views of a potential speaker.

CSU originally denied the request for funding because the content of the speech “did not appear entirely unbiased as it addresses the topic of abortion.” School officials further stated that if the group hosted the speaker, “Folks from varying sides of the issue won’t necessarily feel affirmed in attending the event.” Evoking their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, the student organization sought to overcome the discrimination it faced from CSU and to receive the requested funding.

The settlement encouraged CSU to reevaluate and revise its unconstitutional policies concerning funding for student organizations in two ways. First, the new policies abolished CSU’s Diversity Grant program, the program through which CSU denied funds to the Students for Life chapter. Second, CSU clarified and neutralized the criteria for evaluating funding requests. This new criteria forbids discrimination based on the religious affiliation of a student group. ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer commented, “University officials shouldn’t use mandatory student fees to favor some views while shutting out others.” Additionally, the settlement recouped the cost of the speaker as well as the student fees of the Students for Life members, a total amount of $600.

Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, explained the significance of this case: “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

As Concerned Women for America (CWA) continues to expand its Young Women for America (YWA) college chapters, we are committed to fighting for the rights of conservative women to freely express their views.  It is a travesty that colleges and universities have been overrun by left-wing ideologies for so long that conservative students are often marginalized.  We are committed to changing that, and we are thankful for the work of other organizations like Students for Life and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Kelsey Gold, CWA’s Young Women for America Coordinator, who applauded the resolution in this case and said, “YWA has experienced the targeting of left-wing academics first hand, so we know this is a widespread problem that young conservative women continue to encounter regularly.  But we are not deterred.  We are determined to make our mark for freedom, liberty, and intellectual diversity on every campus in the U.S.  Truth is a powerful antidote that refuses to be suppressed.”

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Kyle Permann is the 2017 Antonin Scalia Legal Fellow for Concerned Women for America.