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Sanctity of Life

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

By | Blog, News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Sanctity of Life, Sexual Exploitation | No Comments

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.

Conservative Women Rally to Support Judge Kavanaugh

By | Blog, Kennedy, Legal, News and Events, Religious Liberty, Sanctity of Life, SCOTUS, Vacancy | No Comments

This week many Americans were glued to our TV’s waiting to see who President Trump had chosen to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.  For many of us, it was our first opportunity to hear directly from the man whose young daughter’s basketball team calls “Coach K.” He did not disappoint.

Judge Kavanaugh, who currently sits on the D.C. Circuit – considered the “Second Highest Court in the Land” – shared with us his story which highlighted so many values we, as Americans, hold dear, including family, faith, and hard work.

As the Senate begins the process to “advise and consent” the president’s nominee, it’s important to take a measure of the man in judging his fitness for office.

Here are some glimpses into his influences and his character:

Judge Kavanaugh in his speech last week gave thanks and praise to both of his parents who each attended law school, his father working full-time while putting himself through law school at night. But it was Kavanaugh’s mother to whom he paid a special tribute, Maryland Circuit Court Judge Martha Kavanaugh. “My introduction to law came at our dinner table,” he said. Kavanaugh called his mother a trailblazer for women in the legal profession. She pushed through barriers and overcame obstacles as one of the few female prosecutors at the time to become a trial judge. As he accepted President Trump’s nomination, Judge Kavanaugh credited his mother and her legacy. “The president introduced me tonight as Judge Kavanaugh, but to me that title will always belong to my mom.”

Judge Kavanaugh devotes time and energy to his family and his faith. He is involved in his church and spends his time serving meals with Catholic charities and tutoring. He is a leader in his field.

Throughout his tenure as a judge, Kavanaugh has worked to diversify the legal field through the people he chose to work for him. Rebecca Tailbelson, a former Kavanaugh Clerk, not only spoke about Kavanaugh as a judge but also to the quality of his character as a boss and advocate.

“Judge Kavanaugh has had a really outsized role in helping to diversify this little sliver of the legal profession, and he’s done so by hiring predominantly female – I think a majority of his law clerks have been women which is sort of unheard of at this level. And then after he hires us, he goes to bat for us in every way. It’s impossible to get that Supreme Court clerkship if you don’t have an appeals court judge like Brett Kavanaugh going to bat for you. He goes to bat for us, and then he goes to bat for us for every job after that.”

From the respect with which he honors his mother, to his devotion to raising strong daughters, and his work diversifying the legal field, Judge Kavanaugh has shown through action, not just words, his choice to esteem women.

There are just nine individuals who safeguard our Constitution, the document that has protected our God-given rights for 231 years. There could not be a more qualified candidate to sit on this esteemed bench at this time.

Concerned Women for America is honored to stand behind Judge Kavanaugh and support him during his confirmation. We have launched a $500,000 campaign called “Women for Kavanaugh.” We are devoting considerable resources to this effort and rallying our happy warriors across the nation to use their voices in support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation. We were active in Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation and plan to be equally active for Judge K, because we trust that he will be another great justice!

CWA stands with Judge Kavanaugh, because his life and his work exemplify what we want to ensure for this generation and generations to come. This is about our children, our grandchildren, and the future of the home that we love. #ConfirmJudgeK


Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published by The Stream. Click here to read it there.

SCOTUS Vacancy Not About Roe

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

As you know, the world ends every week in America. This week, it is because of the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the U.S. Supreme Court. The left reveres abortion. And every time a Supreme Court vacancy occurs, we hear the screeching call to arms of Big Abortion and its devotees in the media and Hollywood. They never disappoint.

Here’s Michael Ian Black’s graceful take on Twitter: “Stock up on abortions now. Roe v. Wade is gone.”

They’re just cool and rational and funny, you see.

CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin was a bit more measured, as a member of the media, saying, “Abortion will be illegal in twenty states in 18 months.”

The fact that this one decision is always at the center of their fears reflects not only their veneration of abortion (they venerate other issues that do not get the same attention). It’s actually the reflection of Roe’s very poor (in fact, non-existent) constitutional underpinnings. In that sense, they should be worried about the great monuments they have built on such flimsy foundations.

Click here to read the rest of this op-ed as published on The Stream.

Supreme Court Protects Pro-Life Clinics from Government Targeting; Millions of Women Celebrate

By | Blog, News and Events, Planned Parenthood, Press Releases, Sanctity of Life | No Comments

Washington, D.C. — Moments ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a great victory (5-4) to pro-life clinics in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.

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

“We applaud the U.S. Supreme Court for sending a clear statement today that pro-life Americans cannot be discriminated against and targeted by government. The State of California’s insidious effort to prevent pregnancy care centers from helping suffering women is appalling.

“To be clear, this case was not about abortion. Malicious abortion politics definitely were the motivation behind it, but the case centered on the inappropriate mandate of the state compelling pro-life clinics to promote abortion in violation of their consciences.  The case was about forced speech.

“Supporters of the First Amendment, including many pro-abortion women, were appalled to see the way the state tried to punish pro-life clinics where hundreds, if not thousands, of women dedicate their lives to help other women in need.  Millions of women around the country, both pro-life and pro-abortion, reject this form of government tyranny.

“Freedom-loving women should celebrate the Court’s wisdom here in allowing all women to serve their fellow neighbor as their conscience dictates, free from government interference.”


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

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!

Title X Comment Period: Now Open!

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

You may remember last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new proposed rule governing the Title X program that has the potential to make an impact on the fight against Planned Parenthood’s government funding. Today is the first day of the 60-day comment period, and now we have a unique chance to act and voice our support.

The Title X program is a voluntary grant program that was created to educate and provide family planning services. Even though the law says that abortion is not family planning, abortion giants like Planned Parenthood have used this grant program as their own personal slush fund.

But not under the Trump Administration. HHS proposed a new rule governing Title X funds. This rule, also referred to as the Protect Life Rule, proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules” that were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. These new regulations require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under these new regulations, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers and recipients cannot refer for abortion. Additionally, grantees must comply with state/local abuse reporting requirements. This rule also repeals the Clinton-era regulations that require abortion counseling and instead makes this optional. This new regulation does not cut Title X dollars by a cent

This Protect Life Rule draws a bright line between abortion clinics and Title X dollars. By requiring physical and financial separation of Title X dollars, we can be sure that this taxpayer money is being used to help low-income women and not prop up abortion clinics.

After the comment period is closed, HHS will review the comments and issue a final ruling. This is why the comment period is so important: HHS’ final ruling is based off of what the public says. You know Planned Parenthood is out in full force; they even started accepting comments to submit before the comment period officially opened! We know that 60% of Americans want out of the abortion business and don’t want taxpayer dollars involved in abortions, so now it’s time for us to act.

For information on submitting a comment, a sample comment (you can use ours verbatim!), or more information on what exactly this rule will do if implemented, please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule.

Act Now! Title X Comment Period Now Open!

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

Just last week the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a new proposed rule governing the Title X program that has the potential to make an impact on the fight against Planned Parenthood’s government funding. The Title X program is a voluntary grant program that was created to educate and provide family planning services. Even though the law says that abortion is not family planning, abortion giants like Planned Parenthood have used this grant program as their own personal slush fund.

But not under the Trump Administration. HHS proposed a new rule governing Title X funds. This rule, also referred to as the “Protect Life Rule,” proposes regulations similar to the “Reagan rules” that were upheld by the Supreme Court in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan. These new regulations require physical and financial separation between Title X recipients and abortion providers. Under these new regulations, abortion centers cannot serve as Title X family planning centers, and recipients cannot refer for abortion. Additionally, grantees must comply with state/local abuse reporting requirements. This rule also repeals the Clinton-era regulations that require abortion counseling and instead makes this optional.

This new proposed rule draws a bright line between abortion clinics and Title X dollars. By requiring physical and financial separation of Title X dollars, we can be sure that this taxpayer money is being used to help low-income women and not prop up abortion clinics. This new regulation does not cut Title X dollars by a single cent.

Of course, Planned Parenthood is hysterical because they don’t want accountability for the government money they receive, and they don’t want to separate their abortion clinics from their Title X programs. They could choose to comply, but they won’t because abortion is their bread and butter.

Planned Parenthood wants you to think abortion is just a small part of what they do. The reality is that over 90% of pregnant women who enter a Planned Parenthood clinic will receive an abortion. It’s not a “small part” of what they do, because if it were, they would choose to comply with the law and disentangle their abortion business from family planning services.

However, this rule is not a done deal. As with any federal regulation, there is an open comment period where the public has the opportunity to express their views. After the 60-day comment period is up, HHS will review the comments and issue a final rule based on the public’s feedback.

This is where we need your help. The comment period opens TODAY, and we want to express our appreciation for this important rule. If you’ve never posted a public comment before and don’t know where to start, don’t worry. On our website, we have instructions on how and where to submit a comment and a sample comment you can copy, paste, and submit exactly as is! It is so important that we express our strong support for this rule. Please visit ConcernedWomen.org/ProtectLifeRule for more information.