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Sanctity of Life

National Adoption Awareness Month: A Chance at Life

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It was the summer of 1952. The Olympics were in full swing, and I was a newly minted high school graduate. I was also 17 and about a month-and-a-half pregnant.

Neither my mother, nor my boyfriend found out until after graduation, and they didn’t seem too interested in helping me decide what to do. In fact, my mother chose to wash her hands of the entire situation and provided me nothing by way of help or comfort. We weren’t a Christian family at that time, so I didn’t even have a church family I could go to for help.

What I did have, though, was an uncle who worked hard to help me. Uncle Dick was 13 years older than me and seemed more like an older brother than an uncle. When my mother told him about my situation, he found the solution. To this day, I do not know how he found it, but near where I lived in the Chicago area, Uncle Dick came across the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers, and I moved in immediately.

Uncle Dick also found me a position with Kemper Insurance Company, so I could earn money to help contribute to the “home.” His plan was to help me through the pregnancy as best he could. If I had come home to small-town Evanston with a child and no husband, I would have been treated like a leper. So, Uncle Dick thought the best thing to do was to give the baby up for adoption. (That the suggestion of an abortion never came up — and yes, they were being done back then — is something I definitely consider a blessing.)

He contacted an adoption agency for me — Catholic Charities, if memory serves — and I knew that when I gave birth, the baby would be turned over to them. And that is exactly what happened. On February 3, 1953, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I had hoped to hold her before she was given to Catholic Charities, and they even offered. For some reason, though, they never brought her in to me.

In the end, I never got to see her face; I never got to feel her warmth in my arms. I never got to hear her laugh or cry. My daughter was just … gone. I knew then that this loss would haunt me for years to come. Even now, recalling that moment, I am brought to tears.

But those tears were for me. God honored my decision, and my daughter was given to a wealthy couple who were able to love her and give her a good upbringing.

Fifty-three years would pass before God showed me His hand on this situation.

Twelve years ago, after the passing of my second husband, I began to look for my daughter. I wound up visiting only one website that had anything to do with adopted children, and I entered my personal information. Not long after that, I was contacted by Nick, a man who thought that I might be his mother. Why? Because my last name matched that of his birth mother who had given him up for adoption on Christmas Eve in 1946.

We discovered that I could not have been his mother, because I would’ve only been 12 years of age at the time he was born. However, when we started connecting notes, I began to have a very strange feeling about it, as if God had orchestrated this entire thing and connected me with this young man through my search for my daughter. I began to understand that the woman listed on his birth certificate was also my mother. I sent him my graduation photo, and he immediately sent his graduation picture back to me right next to mine. I could definitely see the resemblance. Two of my four brothers joined Nick and me in taking a DNA test. The results were positive that we were related through the maternal side of my family.

Since Nick had already started this process, he was able to give me pointers. He said that contacting the health department for the state of Illinois was the best way to connect with my daughter. Best of all, I could do it online.

Days later, the office called me to verify the birth date. I was unable to give them that, as all the papers relating to her birth and my stay at the Florence Crittenton Home were destroyed during my first marriage. Having no written documents, I could only give them an estimate.

Apparently, that was enough. Within a couple of weeks, I held a letter in my hands that left me breathless. Not only had they located my daughter, they had included her personal information; she had been searching for me as well! Now the question was, “Why?” I hesitated to contact her for fear that, rather than wanting to connect, she might only need my medical history information.

A few days later, the phone rang, and that question was answered. The voice on the other end said, “Hello Mom! This is your daughter, Betsy, and I want to thank you for giving me a chance at life.” I nearly dropped the telephone! Within a week, I was able to connect with my daughter and her husband during a trip to Las Vegas.

The rest, as they say, is history. Betsy and her family have been in my life ever since.

Do I support adoption? I certainly do — but not just for situations like mine; I support adoption for anyone who finds themselves pregnant with a child they do not want or cannot keep. If the birth mother is willing to be a part of the process, all the better for her. Mothers should be able to choose an agency that makes them the most comfortable, and people of faith should have the opportunity to work with an agency that shares their beliefs.

Beyond consenting to give up my daughter, I was not involved in her adoption. I never got to hold her, and for 53 years it left a hole in my heart. Now that hole is filled with love. To those women considering abortion, I urge you to choose adoption instead. Giving up your child — either through adoption or abortion — will leave a similar hole in your heart, but with abortion, it’s a hole that you have no hope in filling during this lifetime.

Please give them a chance at life. You won’t regret it.

Barbara J. Ferraro, State Director, Concerned Women for America of Hawaii

PRESS RELEASE: Planned Parenthood Announces New President, Dr. Leana Wen

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Washington, D.C. — Today, Planned Parenthood announced their new President, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen has a medical background having been an emergency room doctor and Baltimore’s health commissioner. Her background as a political activist leaves little hope that Planned Parenthood will leave the abortion industry behind.

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

“If Planned Parenthood was truly serious about advocating for women, they would hire someone as their president who understands medicine and, because of that knowledge, accepts that abortion does not help women but only inflicts harm and destruction. Instead, they have hired a medical professional who does not understand the true nature of abortion and is more a political activist than women’s health advocate.

Dr. Wen’s background as an emergency room doctor and her time as Baltimore’s health commissioner should give her perspective on the real healthcare needs of women. Dr. Wen has the opportunity to change the trajectory of Planned Parenthood and address the full range of services needed by poor women. It’s time for Planned Parenthood to change their business model instead of pushing their abortion agenda.

Dr. Wen was just a child when she left China, but she was born in a nation with an authoritarian government that forced abortions under their One Child Policy for more than three decades. We know the devastating impact of that policy. If Dr. Wen cares for women, we ask that she rely on her expertise as a doctor instead of her political activism.

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

Black Women Are Betraying Their Sisters on Abortion

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One group of black women are peddling the belief that abortion is “self-care,” that it benefits women and their families. This snake oil is being sold by The Afiya Center (TAC), which put these slogans on a giant billboard in Texas.

As a free-thinking, informed and intuitive black woman, I don’t buy it. My child did not survive my abortion over 30 years ago, but I did. Since 1973, abortion has reduced the black population by over 25 percent, terminating 19 million black lives.  [Read More …]

Planned Parenthood Announces New President, Dr. Leana Wen

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

Washington, D.C. — Today, Planned Parenthood announced their new president, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen has a medical background having been an emergency room doctor and Baltimore’s health commissioner. Her background as a political activist leaves little hope that Planned Parenthood will leave the abortion industry behind.

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

“If Planned Parenthood was truly serious about advocating for women, they would hire someone as their president who understands medicine and, because of that knowledge, accepts that abortion does not help women but only inflicts harm and destruction. Instead, they have hired a medical professional who does not understand the true nature of abortion and is more a political activist than women’s health advocate.

Dr. Wen’s background as an emergency room doctor and her time as Baltimore’s health commissioner should give her perspective on the real healthcare needs of women. Dr. Wen has the opportunity to change the trajectory of Planned Parenthood and address the full range of services needed by poor women. It’s time for Planned Parenthood to change their business model instead of pushing their abortion agenda.

Dr. Wen was just a child when she left China, but she was born in a nation with an authoritarian government that forced abortions under their One Child Policy for more than three decades. We know the devastating impact of that policy. If Dr. Wen cares for women, we ask that she rely on her expertise as a doctor instead of her political activism.

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

Senators Fail to Defund Planned Parenthood

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In a rare up-or-down pro-life vote on Capitol Hill, the Senate voted last week on an amendment to the Labor HHS/Department of Defense “minibus” Appropriations bill.  The amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) would prohibit federal funds from going to any provider of family planning or reproductive health services that performs abortions or affiliates with an entity that does.  The amendment failed 45-48 with seven senators absent – half of whom would have voted for and the other half against.  The strategy behind this vote was complicated by anticipated hostile amendments from abortion supporters and was set at a 60-vote threshold to pass, which essentially set it up to fail.  Nevertheless, it was a clean vote on a pro-life measure that put senators clearly on record as to whether they support or oppose the abortion industry.  Predictably, Planned Parenthood was on the front lines in opposition to the amendment, since it would cut deeply into their bottom line.

The House has a similar provision in its Labor-HHS Appropriations bill to defund abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.  CWA will be working to get this measure, and other strong, pro-life legislation, in the final FY 2019 Labor- HHS Appropriations bill, whatever form it takes.  As always, this will be a heavy lift requiring the leadership of pro-life members and the Administration.  The House and Senate should be appointing a conference committee to work out a final bill in the coming weeks.  Find out how your senators voted on the Paul Amendment, No. 3967, and let them know how you feel!

States Seeking New Avenues to Defund Planned Parenthood

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In April 2018, Tennessee passed a law, Amendment 36, declaring the state’s belief that childbirth and family planning services should not include elective abortions. Additionally, this law aims to eliminate “direct or indirect use of state funds to promote or support elective abortions,” meaning agencies providing elective abortions should not be eligible for any government money and should not be Medicaid providers. Medicaid-provider eligibility is determined by the federal Center for Medicaid Services (CMS). If a state wants to eliminate a Medicaid provider, it must get a waiver from CMS. This month, TennCare (the Medicaid program in Tennessee) submitted a waiver request to CMS to prohibit abortion providers from participating in TennCare.

In accordance with Amendment 36, Tennessee petitioned CMS for permission to exclude “any entity that performed, or operated or maintained a facility that performed, more than 50 abortions in the previous year, including any affiliate of such an entity.”  It’s clear that Tennessee is operating within its authority to set reasonable standards for what kind of providers are eligible for Medicaid funds. The waiver request is currently undergoing a public comment period that will close on September 23.

Planned Parenthood receives several forms of government money; their second largest source is Title X grants, and their biggest source is Medicaid reimbursement. Naturally, they are protesting this law, because not only will this likely cut off Planned Parenthood’s funding in Tennessee, but it will set a crucial precedent for other states who are trying to cut off Medicaid funding from abortion providers. Texas currently has a similar waiver pending before the Trump Administration, and if this waiver is enacted, it is likely other states will follow. This is also why we need your help to submit a public comment supporting this policy.

Planned Parenthood claims that without this money, their services will decline, and they will be forced to cease operations, a move that will cause rural women to suffer. However, there are only three Planned Parenthood clinics in Tennessee: one in Knoxville, one in Nashville, and one in Memphis — the three most populated cities in the entire state; their assistance to rural women is not apparent. In the state’s waiver request to CMS, the TennCare Director, Wendy Long, explains that should this policy go into effect, rural healthcare will not be impacted, because the providers that do serve rural women are unaffected by this policy.

Women deserve better than the care they receive at abortion mills, and states should be able to determine who best serves their citizens. This waiver is important for Tennessee but will have a nationwide impact to pave the way for frustrated states to try for similar waivers, so they, too, can cut off government funding from Planned Parenthood. Please submit a comment today and tell CMS that you support states’ ability to determine who provides care for their citizens.

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.

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.

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.