From the Editor: Never Give In

On October 29, 1941, Great Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, visited Harrow School to address the students and in his speech to them said, “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

From Obama’s recent nomination of federal appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter, to the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller, to all that Obama has done or is trying to do, including rescinding the Mexico City Policy and targeting the Bush Administration’s conscience clause regulations, one could speculate that the movement to restore the sanctity of human life has been set back decades.

With that said, we need to remember the words of Churchill. Let’s look at the positive efforts in various state legislatures attempting to restore the sanctity of human life: (1)

Coerced Abortion Legislation

Arizona: HB 2564; prohibits intimidating or coercing abortion.

Kansas: K.S.A. 65–6709, 65–6710, enacted March 2009; amends the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” to include notice coerced abortion is illegal.

Michigan: HB 4525, 4526; “Coerced Abortion Prevention Act” and companion bill with sentencing guidelines.

Missouri: HB 46, SB 264; makes coerced abortion a crime, either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

Nebraska: Legislative Bill 675; requires abortion providers to give 24-hour notice that coerced abortion is illegal.

North Dakota: SB 2265, enacted May 2009; requires posted notice that coerced abortion is illegal.

Ohio: HB 280; requires posted notice that coerced abortion is illegal.

Sex-Selection Legislation

Oklahoma: HB 1595, enacted May 2009; bans abortions sought based on the child’s gender; also institutes reporting requirements and public reporting based on those requirements while maintaining the woman’s privacy.

Informed Consent Legislation

Arizona: HB 2564; amends existing law to add stronger parental consent provisions and a 24-hour waiting period as part of informed consent.

Idaho: HF 323; creates “Woman’s Right to Know Act,” with provisions such as voluntary and informed consent.

Kansas: K.S.A. 65-6709, enacted March 2009; amends “Woman’s Right to Know Act” to include viewing and listening to ultrasound.

Massachusetts: H 1670; creates “An Act Relative to a Woman’s Right to Know,” which informs women of the risks of pregnancy and abortion along with information about alternatives.

Missouri: HB 46, SB 264; “informed consent” to include information about fetal development, risks of abortion and pregnancy, etc.

Nebraska: Legislative Bill 675, enacted May 2009; includes right to request and view ultrasound.

North Dakota: HB 1371, HB 1445, enacted May 2009; requires 24-hour notice prior to abortion which gives the woman the opportunity to receive and view an ultrasound; adds reporting requirements related to the abortion decision in light of the ultrasound option.

South Dakota: Enacted in 2005, Section 34–23A-10.1 of the South Dakota Codified Laws; detailed informed consent requirements.

Other Legislation

Idaho: HF 231; requires reporting of abortion complications related to surgical and druginduced abortions. HF 318; life defined as beginning at conception.

Michigan: SB 3; amends MCL 8.3 to define “individual” as a natural person and to include a fetus. This would essentially add an unborn fetus, beginning the eighth week after conception through birth, to the definition of an ‘individual’.

SB 147, 148 and HB 4212, 4213; creates the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act,” which makes it a felony when a physician or any other individual performs a partial birth abortion. HB 4406, SB 372; creates abortion reporting for those of Hispanic ethnicity by closing the a gap in the current abortion reporting law by adding a “check-off” box for those with “Hispanic” ethnicity, a classification currently unreported.

Missouri: HB 570; changes and increases the requirements for reporting abortions, including the type of abortion used, the reason the woman sought the abortion and other statistical data.

North Dakota: HB 1572; state version of the “Born-Alive Infant’s Protection Act,” which creates and enacts two new sections relating to the crimes of dismemberment and torture with penalties for crimes against children born alive.

Oklahoma: HB 1595, enacted as Oklahoma Statutes Section 1–738 of Title 63; created the “Statistical Reporting of Abortion Act,” which adds new, very detailed reporting requirements for abortions.

Rhode Island: H 5334; besides informed consent, it requires physicians to keep detailed reports of abortions on forms provided by the Department of Health.

South Carolina: HB 3342; state version of the “Born-Alive Infant Protection Act,” amending §2–7-30 of the South Carolina Code to protect babies who survive abortions by clarifying the meaning of “born alive.”

It seems that when progress toward restoring the sanctity of human life is made at the state level, whatever the issue, it eventually becomes the subject of federal action, whether congressional or judicial, which eventually finds it way to the USSC. This could be considered an especially discouraging prospect should a new USSC Justice perceived as “more pro-abortion” than Souter be confirmed.2 Add to the mix our pro-abortion Congress and a complicit Chief Executive who has promised to use the power of his pen to advance abortion, and the outlook is grim. However, those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life must not give in.

Although there is scant history on Sotomayor’s thinking related to abortion in her court opinions, keep in mind that Sotomayor participated in a decision dismissing a challenge to the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited sending taxpayer dollars to groups that promote and perform abortions in other nations. Center for Reproductive Law and Policy v. Bush, 304 F.3d 183 (2nd Cir. 2002). When he assumed office, Obama wasted no time overturning the policy.

Sotomayor also wrote an opinion overturning, in part, a district court’s grant of summary judgment against a group of pro-life protestors. Amnesty America v. Town of West Hartford, 361 F.3d 113 (2nd Cir. 2004). This decision didn’t directly impact abortion policy but then neither do the cases LLDF litigates in defense of those who are wrongfully arrested for opposing abortion on public sidewalks and college campuses. Perhaps even Sotomayor believes that abortion opponents still have free speech rights.

However, this is all just hopeful speculation. History shows that pro-abortion politicians are more adept than their pro-life counterparts at picking judges who will carry out their agenda.

Maybe Sotomayor will surprise us; maybe not. But we need to heed Churchill’s advice to the students at Harrow School and never give in. After all, in spite of all the efforts of abortion zealots, even the act of judicial activism we now know as Roe v. Wade, America does have a pro-life majority.3 And it is your average American who ultimately makes the decision what to do with abortion in their life, not the pro-abortion Congress, Chief Executive or the Courts. Whatever the odds that the infrastructure of American government will ever be life-affirming, we must never give in.

1. At the time this issue of Lifeline went to print, Sotomayor was not yet confirmed and the listed bills were either pending or had recently been enacted.

2. Sotomayor was a Board Member of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund from 1980 to 1992. According to Americans United for Life, the PRLDEF filed six briefs in five abortion cases advocating the elimination of many abortion regulations at both the state and federal level, as well as advocating mandated funding of abortion at the state and federal level.

3. A Rasmussen Reports poll, along with surveys from Gallup, Pew and Fox News, have confirmed that Americans are taking a decidedly more prolife position on abortion. A Rasmussen survey question found a majority of Americans, 52 percent, think it is too easy to get an abortion in America. That’s up seven percent from two years ago when 45 percent thought it was too easy. http://www.lifenews.com/nat5119.html. Maybe Sotomayor will surprise us; maybe not. But we need to heed Churchill’s advice to the students at Harrow School and never give in.

Author: Life Legal

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is a non-profit law firm that specializes in the defense of vulnerable human life, especially life in the womb.