On July 9, President Donald Trump announced his nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court Justice slot. Brett Kavanaugh was selected from a pool of twenty-five conservative options, a list that had been narrowed down to four candidates in the last week before the announcement.
Kavanaugh has over twelve years of experience as a judge, issuing approximately 300 opinions, according to Fox News. Appointed to the federal appeals court by President George W. Bush, Kavanaugh is well-known for his dedication and admiration of the U.S. Constitution. Addressing an audience of senators and public officials, he highlighted his “reverence” for the document that the Supreme Court is tasked with upholding.
Supreme Court judges generally fall into three different philosophies. Constitutionalists believe in judging cases strictly as the Founding Fathers would have commanded them to. Precedence means that decisions should be made in reference to past cases. Finally, pragmatism is the philosophy that judges should use their own convictions and apply them to the law. Kavanaugh has exhibited strong constitutionalist qualities, with an additional respect for precedence. This yields interesting results when analyzing his stances on abortion.
The Constitution does not explicitly mention abortion, obviously, making this hot-button issue often more difficult for constitutionalists to deal with. When asked about Roe v. Wade in 2006, Kavanaugh stated that he would respect the precedent set by the ruling but refused to state a personal opinion. His relative silence on the issue has worried some Pro-Life supporters, though others have theorized that he has dodged the subject to ensure swift confirmation.
Last October, Kavanaugh commented on his first major case involving the right to life in October 2017, when an undocumented immigrant teenager in U.S. custody sought an abortion. Though the appeals court involved ultimately supported the young woman’s decision, Kavanaugh dissented, insisting that she had no such right. While Pro-Life activists applauded this decision, others were quick to say that his decision emphasized the rights of immigrants, rather than the right to life.
In the coming weeks, a spotlight will be shed surrounding the history of Kavanaugh’s decisions and convictions. Undoubtedly, the media will report on the judge with increasing scrutiny, as the deadline to confirm him looms closer. Until then, it is important for Pro-Life supporters to avail themselves of resources to learn more about this potential Supreme Court Justice.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that California pregnancy centers which oppose abortion must no longer advertise the practice. The state of California had required all licensed pregnancy clinics to provide clients with information about low-cost abortion and contraception options—regardless of the clinics’ religious beliefs or stance on abortion.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion for the Court, which decided the case—National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra—on a 5-4 vote. California may publicize government-sponsored abortion programs, stated Thomas, but the state “cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message for it.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy’s concurring opinion emphasized pregnancy clinics’ First Amendment liberties: “Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. [California’s law] imperils those liberties,” Kennedy wrote.
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch also deemed California’s law unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Justice Stephen Breyer expressed the minority’s dissenting view from the bench.
Breyer argued that the Court should honor a previous 1992 decision in which it required Pennsylvania doctors to inform their patients about adoption services. Why should states not similarly require pregnancy centers to inform clients about abortion services? Breyer asked. “As the question suggests, there is no convincing reason to distinguish between information about adoption and information about abortion in this context,” he stated.
Perhaps the First Amendment itself provides the distinguishing test Breyer seeks. The government clearly compels pregnancy centers which oppose abortion on religious or moral grounds to violate their convictions via mandatory abortion advertisements. Physicians, however, likely do not oppose adoption for religious or moral reasons; thus, the state cannot possibly infringe on their “freedom of thought or belief” by compelling them to publicize information they already endorse.
Alliance Defending Freedom lawyer Michael Farris recognizes that freedom of speech and conscience constitute the proper basis for the Court’s decision. “No one should be forced by the government to express a message that violates their convictions, especially on deeply divisive subjects such as abortion,” Farris stated. “In this case the government used its power to force pro-life pregnancy centers to provide free advertising for abortion. The Supreme Court said that the government can’t do that, and that it must respect pro-life beliefs.”
Farris’ organization represented the pregnancy centers in the case. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled against the clinics in a unanimous verdict which upheld the entirety of California’s law. Thus, the Supreme Court’s decision represents a heartening turn of events both for pregnancy clinics in California and the national pro-life cause.
Crossing the United States by car constitutes a major undertaking. Trans-American motorists can expect to encounter inclement weather, bumpy roads, and heavy traffic on their multi-day journey from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Many cross-county travelers therefore opt to make the trip by air, rather than by road.
Not Gabriel Low. This month, the seventeen-year-old triathlete from Hawaii started a 3,000-mile road trip across the United States–on his bicycle.
Pedaling up to 90 miles a day, Low hopes to complete his ride in two months. What motivated the teen to embark on his cross-country trek? “The real inspiration, I have to say, came from my mother,” Low told KATU news.
Low’s mom suffers from Primary Periodic Paralysis, a rare disorder which causes her to occasionally lose motor function. Because the disease is genetic, Low suffers from bouts of paralysis, too. Unlike his mother, however, the teen received a diagnosis and proper treatment early in life.
“For the first 30 years [my mom] went undiagnosed,” Low explained. “All her efforts to help me grow up with the disease and not have to face the same challenges she did, that’s what I want to dedicate this ride to.”
Low hopes his ride will raise awareness not only about his own disorder, but about a host of other little-known diseases as well. According to Low, one in ten people suffer from a rare condition. Roughly 7,000 such disorders exist, and each of them “is so rare that doctors don’t learn about them a lot in med school, and they’re just not really acknowledged well,” Low said.
The teen’s cross-country cycling odyssey serves another purpose, too: transportation to the 2018 national triathlon championships in Cleveland, Ohio. That competition holds special meaning for Low. During an earlier qualifying event, an abrupt episode of paralysis tested his physical abilities to the limit.
“It was towards the second half of the triathlon, I realized that I’d forgotten to take my medication that morning,” Low explained. “As I was going, I started to feel my legs were harder to lift, and when I crossed the finish line, I collapsed.”
Low’s perseverance, however, paid off: the effort earned him a spot at the national championships in Cleveland. Thus, competing at nationals represents not only a significant athletic achievement for Low, but also a victory over his disorder.
Ultimately, Low hopes to compete in the world triathlon championships. En route to his goal, however, the teen desires to prioritize his campaign to raise awareness for rare diseases. He hopes his ride will “start a conversation and create a movement.”
Strongbridge Biopharma, a pharmaceutical firm which specializes in developing treatments for rare disorders, is sponsoring Low’s cross-country trip. “Strongbridge has given me a van and hotel rooms every night, and it’s insane what has happened,” Low said.
The teen feels grateful for the support he has received thus far, and invites fellow cyclists to join him on portions of his ride. See his Facebook page and website for updates on his journey. Additionally, well-wishers can show their support by contributing to Low’s GoFundMe account. Donations will cover Low’s trip expenses, and any leftover funds will support the Periodic Paralysis Association.
Alarms went off late Tuesday night that warned people of a “CIVIL EMERGENCY” followed by another warning stating “WATER EMERGENCY FOR THE SALEM AREA.” The following day people would learn that there was an Algal contamination in the Detroit Reservoir that put young children, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems at risk.
Many people began rushing to stores to stockpile water. As water supplies started to drop, prices began to rise leading some people to drive out of town to find water. One restaurant owner felt a big backlash after making a poorly timed joke about having “inside information” about the emergency. Luckily though the entire area wasn’t affected.
In Keiser, Oregon the water was still safe to drink. Keizer water comes from wells that are attached to the un-impacted Troutdale aquifer. Keizer made three 24-hour water distributing sites near city hall. On top of that, over 20 businesses in Keiser began distributing water to those affected but asked people to bring their own containers. Governor Kate Brown sent several trucks filled with water to help distribute water.
The water warning is still in effect, however, there are reports that it is getting better. Reports from Wilsonville say that the same type of Algae problem is occurring there but to a far less extent and that there is nothing to worry about.
Deputy Jeremie Nix (FL) has been praised for saving the life of a three-month-old baby who stopped breathing. Nix was flagged down on May 9th by the child’s mother who couldn’t get her baby to respond. Several life-saving techniques were administered by Nix, but he was unable to revive the child named Kingston. Instead of waiting for the medics and the ambulance that was coming, he took the child in his patrol vehicle, turned his lights on and drove quickly to the nearest emergency room, Ocala Regional Medical Center. Kingston recovered with the help of the doctors. Deputy Nix has been commended for his quick thinking, which saved Kingston’s Life.
The Marion County Sheriff’s office said in an article by People.com, “We are tremendously proud of Deputy Nix and we can already see that he and Baby Kingston will have a deep connection that will last a lifetime!!”
The child’s mother, Nechole Cromwell, was on her way to the emergency room but had been unable to get there fast enough due to traffic. She spotted Nix on the road and turned on her emergency lights to get Nix’s attention.
The whole ordeal was captured by dashcam video from deputy Nix’s patrol vehicle. Watch the video here.
Nix, in an article by the CNN, told reporters, “I remember praying, thanking God for putting me in the right place, at the right time for the right reason. This was the most emotional day I’ve ever had in my career. It was also the scariest and the most rewarding.”
Kingston’s mother acknowledged the excellence of deputy Nix’s performance. “I am forever grateful,” Cromwell said in an article by Inside Edition. “He was my baby’s guardian angel on earth. It was God and Deputy Nix who saved [Kingston’s] life.” Cromwell expressed her thankfulness in a Facebook post. “I just wanted the world to know how great this officer is, & how GREAT GOD is,” she wrote.
Marion County sheriff’s office said in an article by People.com, “We are happy to report that Baby Kingston is doing very well and doctors say he will make a full recovery.”
On January 19, hundreds of thousands of Pro-Life supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. to attend the March for Life annual event. The participants varied greatly in background and faith but were united under the central cause of eliminating abortion. The event had a significant backing from Christian groups, yet it is important to recognize the diverse array of religions that were in attendance, reflecting the broad base that the movement is welcome to expanding.
The presence of varied religious groups at the March for Life is evidence that pro-life is not beholden to any one religion. In fact, many religions have a moral position on life emphasizing the importance of respecting humanity from conception to natural death. The religions which have a moral position on life seem to sit on opposite ends of the spectrum and yet, the religions are united by their obligation to protect life.
A 2014 Ramussen Reports poll reported that over 71% of Evangelical Christians and 56% of Catholics identified as Pro-Life. This demonstrates Christianity’s great sway and consistent influence over believers, who are often found at the forefront of the cause. Pope Francis once stated, “It is necessary to reaffirm our solid opposition to any direct offense against life, especially when innocent and defenseless, and the unborn child in its mother’s womb is the quintessence of innocence.” Chocked with high-profile preachers and priests, Christianity has proved integral towards the sustenance of the Pro-Life movement.
The Washington D.C. annual March for Life website acknowledges the contributions of the Jewish community, as Cecily Routman, founder of the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, alludes to a dire Gallup poll from 2016, where it was estimated that 76% of
Jews believed that abortion was “morally acceptable.” Routman has been working to reverse this trend, citing the Jewish scriptures as the basis of the Foundation’s mission, writing, “In Deuteronomy 30:19, our Heavenly Father clearly declares, ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse; therefore, choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed.’ Routman seeks to engage the broader Jewish community in this effort and is looking to expand the faith’s involvement in Pro-Life matters.
The Islamic religion and its Pro-Life endeavors in America is small but growing. Ismail Royer is an American Muslim, who enjoyed participating in the March for Life in D.C. He has also begun reaching out to Christian leaders of the movement in an effort to increase Islamic engagement with the cause. In an article for The Washington Post, he states, “If our faith communities can find the strength and courage to reconcile, our witness can serve to help heal the country as a whole.” His core message in the article is a call for Muslims to work with their Pro-Life counterparts on a variety of issues, and he delivers a renewed request for acceptance and support from majority groups across the country.
The BBC has followed the Hindu view of Pro-Life, describing, “Traditional Hinduism and many modern Hindus also see abortion as a breach of the duty to produce children in order to continue the family and produce new members of society.” The Puranas, a sacred text of Hinduism, read, “Killing a Kshatriya [knight] or a Vaishya [Merchant] engaged in sacrifice, a menstruating woman, a pregnant woman…[and]..the embryo of a stranger is tantamount to killing a Brahmin [Priest].” Due to the urgency and commanding nature of such quotes, several Hindi have found themselves entering the Pro-Life camp, in support of such teachings.
Damien Keown, an expert on Buddhist bioethics at the University of London, remarks, “Buddhism believes in rebirth and teaches that individual human life begins at conception. The new being, bearing the karmic identity of a recently deceased individual, is therefore as entitled to the same moral respect as an adult human being.” With this understanding of the fetus retaining its own ability to participate in reincarnation, it also is protected by the first precept of Buddhism, which is “you must abstain from taking life.”
“All religions try to benefit people, with the same basic message of the need for love and compassion, for justice and honesty, for contentment.” The Dalai Lama’s wise words retain particular relevance to the United States, which prides itself in its diverse collection of faiths. However, the nation’s overwhelming number of Christians, ranging from about 70% of citizens, according to Pew Research, means that we often neglect the Pro-Life narrative of other faiths.
Echoing the Dalai Lama’s outlook on other religions, it is important for a greater understanding of all beliefs, as well as an appreciation for how they contribute to the cause of saving lives. Being Pro-Life does not belong to any belief system or denomination, rather it is an idea for all religions to contribute towards and participate in.