Persuade “quivering daisies” to do their jobs

To say prolifers feel betrayed by the House of Representative’s failure last month to vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is an understatement. To lay blame at the feet of House leadership, however, is not entirely fair.

House leaders had every reason to believe the vote to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy was going to take place. So assured were they of the House’s unity on the measure, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy scheduled the vote for January 22 to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

Why would they not be assured? The House passed this identical bill last year. Every poll out there shows a decisive majority of Americans support it. And in November, voters handed Republicans control of the House and Senate for just such a moment.

Even so, a bloc of Republican lawmakers who should have been emboldened by all of the above, instead were cowed by war-on-women rhetoric and the paralyzing prospect of lost elections.

There’s a scene in the splendid 2012 film “Lincoln” that captures the pressure some lawmakers succumbed to when voting on the 13th Amendment ending slavery in America. When called upon to cast his vote, one congressman panics and dithers, voting first yes, then no, then finally abstaining before collapsing in a defeated heap.

I was reminded of that scene as I read press accounts of the legislative dissension led by Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and other congressional milquetoasts, some of whom apparently had no qualms about voting in favor of the bill last year. The mostly female contingent went weak in the knees over the bill’s rape report requirement, which would ban all abortions after 20 weeks except in cases where rape or incest had been reported to authorities.

Ellmers reportedly derailed the vote for fear of losing the support of women and Millennials. Ironically, it’s those two groups, especially the 18-to-29 year-olds, who support the ban by the widest margins, according to a recent National Journal Congressional Connection Poll, among others.

Ellmers and her cohorts panicked and dithered. House leadership was blindsided. Suddenly no longer assured they would have the needed votes, leaders wisely chose to postpone the vote until concerns could be addressed. Disheartening and embarrassing as it must have been to make that call, the leaders were wise to postpone a vote we cannot afford to lose.

Ellmers and the others failed their constituents spectacularly, but perhaps they can take comfort in the fact that not everyone is unhappy with their performance.  Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, heartily congratulated the dissenters for their “sense of political acuity” in derailing the vote on this “ultra-extreme” legislation.

As for House leadership, their real test comes now as they work to coax these quivering daisies back into the fray and convince them to do the job they were elected to do.

That the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history sits poised to veto the legislation matters not. If the House leadership can’t persuade their fellow lawmakers to come together on a bill so vital, so morally necessary and so overwhelmingly supported by the American people, they’re in big trouble. And so are we.

Once bastions of free speech, campuses now stifle students

We conservatives have long been reviled by the left for what they believe is our deplorable lack of tolerance for, well, just about everything. Our apparent aversion to freedom of speech, in particular, consistently falls near the top of that lengthy list.

The inconvenient truth, however, is that it’s conservative speech that’s increasingly under attack, and nowhere is that more evident than on our college campuses. Case in point: the assault on March 4 against pro-life demonstrators at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In case you haven’t heard the story — and if you follow only mainstream media news, you likely haven’t — UCSB feminist-studies professor Mireille Miller-Young allegedly stole a large graphic image from a pro-life display before assaulting one of the young demonstrators who attempted to retrieve it. The demonstrators — 16-year-old Thrin Short, her 21-year-old sister Joan and about a dozen others — were in the school’s designated free-speech zone peacefully handing out literature when the incident took place.

One might think a college instructor whose specialties include black cultural studies, pornography and sex work might have some regard for the First Amendment, but the professor reportedly led a group of students in a chant to “tear down this sign” before snatching it and carting it away. What she probably hadn’t counted on was the tenacity of the savvy Short sisters, who pursued Miller-Young and her entourage while recording the incident on a cell phone.

The video, which is getting its share of views on YouTube, captures a smug and smiling Miller-Young taunting the demonstrators, calling them “terrorists” and forcefully barring them from retrieving their sign. In a crime report released by UCSB police, an unrepentant Miller-Young said her actions were “triggered” by the poster’s graphic image. She also admitted taking and destroying the sign, saying, “I’m stronger, so I was able to take the poster.”

The Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office has charged the professor with theft, battery, and vandalism, all misdemeanors. She pled not guilty and will go before the court again on May 1.

The incident sent the professor’s supporters scrambling for excuses: The demonstrators aren’t UCSB students; the graphic image was upsetting; the professor is pregnant, etc. These are excuses a high school sophomore with even a rudimentary understanding of our Bill of Rights would be too embarrassed to repeat.

David Hacker, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that defends religious liberty, called the incident “a perfect example of the leftist orthodoxy that dominates most public university campuses.”

“That’s an orthodoxy that doesn’t want to hear other viewpoints,” Hacker said. “More often than not, faculty and administrations try to silence pro-life speakers, when it should be about free speech rights and protecting student safety.”

The UCSB incident notwithstanding, most cases of viewpoint discrimination against students are more subtle, but no less intimidating. I recently heard from 19-year-old Jessica Laurente of Bakersfield, now a freshman at Fresno State. It seems her women’s studies professor was none too happy with Jessica’s choice of pro-life as the topic for her final class paper. The guidelines given by the professor were only that the topic relates to women, but when Jessica submitted her preference in writing it was returned with the terse reply “needs to be pro-choice.”

“When I asked her why I couldn’t write about pro-life, she said she didn’t accept pro-life papers because pro-life isn’t pro-woman,” Jessica said. “I asked her if she had refused any other students’ topics and she said she hadn’t.”

It takes considerable grit for students to stand up to those running the school and doling out the grades. Jessica contacted the head of the women’s studies department for further discussion, but is still waiting to hear back. Something tells me she’s got a long wait.

In the meantime, Jessica, you might want to give David Hacker a call. He’d love to hear from you.

Business owner? Check your religious freedom at the door

There is so much to dislike about Obamacare it might be hard to know where to start were it not for the law’s most egregious flaw: Its brazen assault on religious freedom.

Unless you’re a faith-led business owner, or a group of nuns that cares for the poor, or one of thousands of religion-affiliated hospitals or schools across America, it may not bother you that the new health care law will force these people to violate deeply held religious beliefs by providing coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in their employee insurance packages.

But it should. It should bother all Americans.

As of this week, there are 91 separate lawsuits challenging the mandate, representing 300 plaintiffs who could no more alter their faith beliefs than change the color of their eyes. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear two of those cases: Conestoga Wood, a Mennonite-owned cabinet maker, and Hobby Lobby, the craft-store chain that recently set up shop here in Bakersfield. Oral arguments for Hobby Lobby’s challenge will start on March 25.

This month, Sanctity of Human Life Month, is an appropriate time to thank Hobby Lobby and all those who take a stand for life, even at the cost of their livelihoods. If the Supreme Court rules to deny business owners and faith-based organizations the right to operate without violating their faith beliefs, their only choices will be to capitulate, pay enormous fines, or close.

That group of Roman Catholic nuns — the Little Sisters of the Poor — could have washed their hands of the controversy with a swipe of a pen, accepting the Obama administration’s “accommodation” by signing over direct administration of the mandated coverage to a third party — a party they would then have to provide with their employees’ names and contact information, thereby allowing someone else to violate their faith beliefs for them.

The nuns said no; they’d prefer not to sin. Nuns are funny that way.

And what of Hobby Lobby? The chain is a successful for-profit enterprise, which some believe renders it unqualified to receive an exemption from the law. Never mind that Hobby Lobby founder David Green and his family have operated their company in a manner consistent with biblical principles since the day they started the business 44 years ago.

Forget that they start their full-time employees at 80 percent above minimum wage, that they close their stores on Sundays to encourage worship and family time, or that the company already covers contraceptives that are not abortifacients.

Note to future entrepreneurs: Want to build a successful business? Go for it — but check your faith beliefs at the door.

The Obama administration believes it has the power to decide which religious beliefs are legitimate and which are not. That will be decided soon, as Supreme Court justices address the challenges to the Obamacare mandate. In the meantime, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Green family and all those who labor in God’s name are praying the Supreme Court will decide in their favor so, say the Sisters, they may continue to serve others with “the same religious freedom we have always appreciated.”

Care to join them? Right to Life of Kern County will host its second annual Remembering Roe Candlelight Prayer Vigil, held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 2633 16th St. There is no cost to attend. Please join us.

Abortion battle is first about human rights

In the ongoing battle against abortion, an oft-used strategy by the pro-choice movement is to dismiss those who cite faith in their opposition to the practice.

Such opposition, it’s been said, imposes religious beliefs on others and so should be disallowed, as if moral beliefs that grow from faith are somehow less legitimate than those learned from familial influence, a political party, prevailing culture, or a Magic 8 Ball.

But the real tragedy of the faith-only argument is that it often makes it easier for those who support abortion to ignore the inconvenient, but undeniable scientific fact that human life begins at conception. Before anything else, this fight is about the simple principal that killing innocent human beings is wrong. It’s about the humanity of the unborn and if we as a civilized people, value life.

You don’t have to be part of a church or denomination to know the answer to that one.

Right to Life of Kern County is nonsectarian and nonpartisan, but it would be disingenuous to suggest that the organization would exist without local people of faith; mostly Catholics and Protestants bonded by the belief that every human being is of inestimable worth. But it’s just as true that – grounded in science and hard reality – a growing number of non-Christians are opposed to abortion as well.

For that reason, Right to Life of Kern County applauds the efforts of Feminists for Life of America who believe a “woman deserves better than having to choose between sacrificing education and career and sacrificing her child.”

We’re thankful for Democrats for Life, who actively encourage their party to “provide social and economic support that can lead to reductions in abortion.” We can look past our faith differences to appreciate the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-life League for its “nontheistic and non-religious opposition to the life-denying horror of abortion.”

Abortion has set us on a dangerous course. If that tide is to be turned, the continued conviction and efforts of people of faith are crucial. But as a civilized society, we all must be guided by the principal that our moral lives are defined by the way we treat the innocent.





Prolife Youth – Jessica Stump, Bakersfield Christian HS

Jessica Stump may not know yet exactly what she’s going to do with the rest of her life, but she is certain whatever path she takes, pro-life advocacy is going to play a big part in it.

“I want to work for an interest group doing something I’m really passionate about,” she said. “I know what I advocate for isn’t my truth, it’s God’s truth.”

Already a confident and capable advocate, Jessica has spoken in defense of life at RTLKC events and was recently chosen by the RTLKC Board of Directors to receive a $350 Student Leaders for Life scholarship based on her winning pro-life essay.

She is grateful, she says, for the “firm foundation” education she received at BCHS and feels well prepared to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln this fall. There, she will consider political science and philosophy, among other majors, with an eye toward a career in law.

Jessica ends a very active high school career with a 4.3 GPA at BCHS where the slim six-footer also made her mark in varsity volleyball and as a Ford Dimension Student with the Ford Dream Builders.
Jessica is the daughter of Michael and Jillian Stump.

Prolife Youth – Sarah Ashbook, Turner Christian Academy 

Defending the unborn isn’t easy in the current culture, but 18-year-old Sarah Ashbrook can’t imagine staying silent, even if it means risking the end of a friendship.

“I’ve always been really pro-life and it’s hard when a lot of your friends are pro-choice,” Sarah said. “But the truth is that a human life is not ours to take – it’s God’s decision when someone is born or dies, not ours.”
Sarah’s ability to communicate that passion for the sanctity of life earned her a $350 Student Leaders for Life Scholarship.

Graduating with a 3.7 GPA from Turner Christian Academy (through the Home Educators Resource Center), Sarah will attend Bakersfield Community College this fall, then hopes to transfer to Cal Baptist University.
Though she “isn’t 100 percent sure” just yet, she expects to major in justice administration with an eye toward law enforcement and forensics. A second choice would be a career in emergency medical services.
“I’ve never wanted to sit an a desk,” she said. “Besides, helping people is really cool.”

Sarah is the daughter of Mark and Carol Ashbrook.