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.
On June 19, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced the United States of America’s withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council. While this comes as a surprise for advocates of social justice, a peek into the Council’s history yields disturbing controversy, especially for the dignity of the human person.
Ambassador Haley’s explanation for the withdrawal was a claim that the Council was hypocritical and biased against certain countries and belief systems. LifeSiteNews, in 2017, reported a series of the Council’s efforts to deliberately exclude unborn children as those protected by the United Nation’s “right to life.” Several other UN organizations, such as the United Nations Population Fund, have expressed their approval of birth control as a fundamental right that should be provided to all countries. Fears have grown that there is a growing effort to list abortion as such a “human right.”
Currently, members of the Council include Afghanistan, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela. A fairly young collective, formed in 2006, the Bush administration declined its opportunity to join, citing potential for bias. Ambassador Haley has long been threatening action, primarily on the basis of the Council’s alleged sway against Israel. However, the Council’s approach to the right to life, though not stated by Haley, must certainly be noted as well.
While many Americans, and Israel, have applauded the move as a win for true human rights, others are concerned that the lack of American presence will only further lead the Council astray from productive goals. Time will tell what difference American withdrawal will make, but the United States’ decision has certainly given its counterparts a resounding message.
A Students for Life group is standing up to a university administration accused of bias. The institution has denied its funding requests, instead of giving money to left-leaning organizations while maintaining a stance that it does not support ideological groups of any nature.
Ball State University requires a $1,318 student activities fee, according to an article by The Washington Examiner. While a funding committee stated that a group is not allowed money if it “”engages in activities, advocacy, or speech in order to advance a particular political interest, religion, religious faith or ideology,” several left-wing clubs, such as Feminists for Action, Secular Student Alliance, and a pro-LGBT group have been allowed.
In response to its recent denial of funding, the Ball State Students for Life have decided to sue the University, with the aid of the Alliance Defending Freedom. Accompanying the accusations of blatant bias are also claims that the university has failed to adequately explain its budgeting process in its handbook or other resources.
A report by the Students for Life claims that the University specifically favors twelve groups, which includes the Asian American Student Association, the Black Student Association, Latinx Student Union, and Spectrum, an LGBT educational group. Out of four hundred organizations, these and others appear to have been given a greater advantage, according to the lawsuit.
The club is asking for $300 to compensate an event that their members paid for earlier this year, as well as fees for the lawsuit.
On August 16, 2017, Governor Kate Brown signed a bill (HB 3391) that forces health care providers to cover the costs of abortions. This essentially makes abortions free to almost all citizens and even undocumented immigrants. Though Oregon’s abortion laws were already extreme before this law, its passage only signals the continual degradation that the value of life has faced across the state.
However, Pro-life groups in Oregon are pushing back in the battle to protect future generations of children.
One such effort is a petition to put the issue of taxpayer-funded abortions on the November ballot. The initiative’s sponsor, Oregon Life United, is approaching their goal of 150,000 signatures by June 30th. All Oregon voter are eligible to sign, and the petition website (www.stopthefunding.org) even provides the ability to print and distribute petition sheets.
According to the website, approximately $1.7 million in taxpayer dollars is spent on abortions, amounting to over $23 million within the last fourteen years. This yields an estimated ten abortions every day, funded by Oregon taxpayers.
If the petitioners are able to gather enough signatures, the issue of taxpayer-funded abortions will appear on voters’ ballots this November. If it passes and takes effect it will cut off tax-funded abortions throughout the state.
In a statement confirmed by the Vatican, Pope Francis denounced abortions of unborn children with congenital defects, reports CNN. The Pope compared the practice to Nazi eugenics.
“I have heard that it’s fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let’s send it away,” Pope Francis stated. “I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.”
In their quest to create a pure Aryan race, the Nazis compelled individuals with physical and mental illnesses to undergo sterilization, and terminated fetuses deemed weak or unhealthy. The modern world condemns such practices in hindsight, yet does not feel repulsed by infanticide today, noted the Pope.
Pope Francis expressed his opinions on abortion during a meeting with a delegation of Italy’s Family Association in Rome. While the Pope did not prepare his comments beforehand, they were verified by Vatican officials after the interview.
During the meeting, Pope Francis also spoke about his views concerning marriage, which consists of a union between one man and one woman. That union reflects God’s image, according to the Pope.
“Today it is hard to say this, we speak of ‘diversified’ families: different types of families. . . . But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one,” the Pope asserted.
Pope Francis spoke just days after Argentina, his home country, voted on a measure to legalize abortion as early as 14 weeks of pregnancy. Pro-life advocates must hope that Argentinian lawmakers remain responsive to the Pope’s spiritual authority.
Warrior, fighter for life, and a proclaimer of the love and compassion of God. Gianna Jessen could be considered a modern-day hero. Jessen lived through her mother’s attempt to end her life at 7 ½ months with a saline abortion. According to her website, giannajessen.com, Jessen’s medical records from the day of her birth read “Born during saline abortion.” An abortionist had to sign Jessen’s birth certificate.
Life is not without hardship for Jessen; she lives with cerebral palsy.
“[The doctors] said I would never be able to sit up straight, but I sat up straight. Then they said I would never be able to walk, but by the age of three I was walking with a frame and leg braces,” Jessen told The Telegraph. “I have a little bit of feistiness in me.”
Jessen does not let her physical health keep her from pursuing what she is passionate about.
The last week in May, Jessen visited Brazil for several speaking engagements, which included speaking to the country’s congress. According to her Facebook live, posted directly after the event on May 30th, she was told by Christians there that Satanists and feminists were present.
An “angry mob” as Jessen called it, had gathered in the building.
Jessen said that the mob would hardly let her speak. She found out later that they were calling on the names of demons. She was impressed by the power of God.
“I didn’t feel defeated at all,” she said. “It was awesome to see how calm God can keep you. I have never seen evil manifest in that way before in my life. And I also have never experienced in quite that way the keeping power of Christ. I felt like a queen. I felt kept, I felt safe.”
By miraculous intervention or what have you, the mob was silent for just enough time for Jessen to tell her story.
Jessen is a great example of someone who is giving their all for Jesus.
“I am honest, with myself and with Jesus,” she said at giannajessen.com, “to the point where one might mistake my honesty for irreverence. But I would rather risk that and give Him my truest self than live life thinly veiled. I find most of life very funny indeed. I would say I laugh most of the time and cry at other times. But the crying is merely sowing seeds of joy for the future. My goal is to live the impossible since nothing is impossible for God.”