Remembering Roe 2020

As the California legislature celebrated abortion on demand this week to honor the 47th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we who value life in all its precious stages continued to pray for the end of abortion everywhere.

Right to Life of Kern County thanks the 50 volunteers who came together on January 18 to erect the beautiful and impactful Remembering Roe Memorial on the grounds of St. Philip the Apostle Church at 7100 Stockdale Hwy., where it will stand throughout the Sanctity of Human Life Week. The memorial will come down on Sunday, January 26.

Twenty-five hundred crosses plus one stand at the site – 2,300 to denote the number of preborn children lost to abortion each day in America, 200 pink and blue crosses representing the decline in abortions from last year, and a single 6-ft. cross representing the grace, mercy, and healing found at the foot of the cross for women and families impacted by abortion.

RTLKC thanks Sen. Shannon Grove and Assemblyman Vince Fong for their no votes on resolutions praising and promoting abortion in California. Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who co-authored the assembly measure, and Sen. Melissa Hurtado, voted in support.

Do we value all innocent human life or not?

Eight months ago in Bakersfield a young woman and her boyfriend decided 30 weeks into her pregnancy that they didn’t want to be parents after all. The woman told police she instructed the baby’s father to punch her in the stomach to rid them of that responsibility. At least 10 gut punches later, the deed was done.

According to police reports, the woman went to Kern Medical Center, telling medical staff she had fallen while mopping, leaving her stomach severely bruised. Not long afterward, doctors delivered a baby girl, dead with a fractured skull and spinal injuries.

The horrifying case and what to do about it was rumored to have caused heated debate among law enforcement officials over whether a crime had been committed. The case is still pending at the Kern County District Attorney’s office, but California law is clear. Taking the life of a preborn child is not murder if the “act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother.”

“Had that baby drawn a single breath we could have considered any number of charges,” said former District Attorney Lisa Green shortly before her retirement in early January.

For want of a single breath, the brutal death of that seven-and-a-half month old preborn girl is all but forgotten. When the story broke in May, local prolife voices expressed shock and disgust over the baby’s death. Predictably, pro-abortion leaders cited the case as the need for greater access in one of the most abortion-accessible states in America, taking care not to mention the dead baby lest they inadvertently acknowledge the child’s humanity.

It’s not the fault of local law enforcement that a nearly full-term preborn child was killed with impunity. And it’s doubtful such a heinous act could have been foreseen by those who wrote California’s legal definition of murder, but with our abortion-happy legislature rubber-stamping every abortion bill that comes before them, that door surely stands wide open.

This week the elected officials we sent to Sacramento are kicking off the new year with their annual resolution celebrating the awesomeness of abortion. And they’ve already promised to renew last year’s failed effort to bring medical abortions onto our college campuses. Those same elected officials are no doubt green with envy over the announcement this week that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, legislation that makes abortion available to women essentially on demand up to the point of birth.

That’s right. Up to the point of birth. It should surprise no one when our own legislature follows suit.
In the 46 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion, America has become the quintessential throw-away culture, starting with our most innocent citizens. Yet, even those who identify as pro-life tend to take little notice of the goings-on at our state capitol. And too many mainstream Protestant churches, once among the most reliably vocal defenders of life, have grown increasingly silent on abortion, inexplicably relegating the topic to the political-issues-we-don’t-discuss-in-church category.

It’s up to all people of good conscience in California to decide how far down this road we’re going to go. Will we finally resolve to respect and protect the humanity of our precious preborn citizens? Or will we cave to our most base instincts as they did in New York?

In memory of that seven-and-half month-old pre-born girl who was killed before she could take her first breath and the 2,500 pre-born Americans lost each day to abortion, Right to Life of Kern County, in partnership with RiverLakes Community Church and other pro-life churches and organizations, will host a 2,500-cross Remembering Roe Memorial the week of January 20 – 27 on the church grounds at the corner of Hageman Road and Calloway Drive.

It’s our hope that this evocative memorial will serve as a reminder that the killing of innocent preborn children is still a common occurrence and will encourage those who value life to speak up and defend it.

Governor Brown gifts California with a pro-abortion veto

In a going-away gift that delivered a rare victory to California’s pro-life forces, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 320, legislation that would have required all UC/CSU student health centers to provide chemical abortions to students by January 2020.

In his brief veto message of the bill, Brown delivered a wrist slap to bill author Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) and its supporters, dismissing SB 320 as “unnecessary.”

Talk about an understatement. We prolifers are grateful for Brown’s moment of clarity, but such a poorly conceived bill never should have made it out of its first committee hearing, let alone to the Governor’s desk. For nearly two years, Right to Life of Kern County and its California allies labored to impress upon our logic-impaired legislature that providing abortion-inducing drugs on campus is not only dangerous and fraught with liability, it’s also utterly unnecessary given the proximity of abortion providers to college campuses.

No matter. When it comes to checking ideological boxes, California’s Democratic lawmakers never met an abortion bill they didn’t like. Apparently, our elected representatives aren’t required to demonstrate an actual need for the bills they introduce as long as said bills align with the party narrative. And with the Democratic majority so firmly entrenched there’s not even a pretense at bipartisanship, at least when it comes to the sacred cow that is abortion.

We opponents of SB 320 at Senate and Assembly committee hearings on the bill watched in astonished dismay as Democratic lawmakers nonchalantly dismissed all evidence debunking claims supporting the bill.
No, students don’t have to travel “hours and miles” to get their abortion pills because the average distance from California’s college campuses to the nearest abortion provider is six miles; some are within walking distance.

No, female athletes don’t lose their scholarships if they become pregnant. NCAA and Title IX gender equity policies mandate that unless the athlete voluntarily drops the program, her financial aid is secure.

No, the cost of abortion pills is not a burden for college students, not with the state ready to pick up the tab via its Medi-Cal Presumptive Eligibility program.

No, the $200,000 in grant monies allotted to each university to cover set-up costs is not enough to finance the necessary abortion equipment and training, according to university officials. The UCs and CSUs wouldn’t take a formal position on the bill but were represented at the hearings. In what became a recurring pattern, the expert opinions of the people who run the schools were heard, then utterly ignored.

And so it went. The only thing Leyva did have in her corner was an ever-present and enthusiastic group of UC Berkeley co-eds who believe that having to take public transportation to pick up their free abortion pills is some sort of oppression. But for the overwhelming majority of Democratic lawmakers, that was enough.

When it comes to abortion access, no state is more obliging than California, with its 512 abortion providers and none of the major restrictions that are found in many other states. SB 320 wasn’t about access, but about normalizing abortion by forcing it into every nook and cranny of California’s current anti-life culture.

All of which makes Brown’s veto nothing short of a miracle.

Leyva responded defiantly to the veto, promising to reintroduce the bill next year under the new governor. Demonstrating his fealty to party overlords Planned Parenthood and NARAL, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsome said he would have signed SB 320 into law.

If and when that happens, the state’s small but tireless army of proactive pro-life advocates are ready to do battle once more, but the decision to bring abortions to our college campuses ultimately lies with the voters and the choices they make at the ballot box.

Bully bill forces pregnancy centers to promote state-funded abortions

Less than a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court found that engaging in business doesn’t demand the surrender of speech and faith freedoms. Still, that hasn’t stopped a gaggle of state legislators from trying to impose on pregnancy centers a law mandating they promote abortion services.

That’s right, the California Assembly on Tuesday passed AB 775, a bill that would force pregnancy care centers like those in Bakersfield and Tehachapi to use their lobbies, websites, forms, and literature to promote state-funded free abortions. The bill, backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood, now moves to the Senate.

As the authors of the “Reproductive FACT Act” are well aware, most of California’s 160 pregnancy centers were founded by people of faith to provide women alternatives to abortion. Unlike Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, pregnancy centers receive little-to-no government funding but rely on the support of compassionate individuals, businesses, and churches to offer women pregnancy-related services.

What thanks do they get? A bully bill so glaring in government overreach, it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps we could start by asking what other private organizations are compelled to offer free advertising for competing enterprises, especially when the services offered by those enterprises violates deeply held moral standards.

During a hearing on the bill in the Assembly Health Committee in April, Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, attempted to clarify what AB 775 does not do, saying the bill had been mischaracterized.
“It does not require referral to abortion clinics … it doesn’t discriminate based on religion,” said Chiu before approving a bill that forces faith-based pregnancy centers to inform women where they can get free abortions and whom they should speak with to see if they qualify.

Since it was founded in 1985, the Bakersfield Pregnancy Center has served more than 30,000 women and their families, offering pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes, and miscarriage and grief counseling, all at no cost to clients or taxpayers. Pro-lifers and people of faith who remain silent while this bill makes its way to the governor’s desk should be ashamed of themselves.

Meanwhile, while lawmakers in California are proving to be incredibly slow learners, our elected reps in Washington must be congratulated for their most recent pro-life victory.

When the House of Representatives failed in January to vote on legislation banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, pro-lifers across the country threw a collective fit, dumping the blame high and wide on House leadership.

Their angst was understandable, though tabling the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Act was likely the leadership’s best option at the time. Caught flat-footed at the 11th hour by a contingent of Republican lawmakers in a tizzy over the bill’s rape report requirement, House leaders reluctantly, but wisely, chose to postpone the vote.

A newly revised bill was put to a vote on May 13 and the measure passed mostly along party lines, 242-184. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said working with fellow lawmakers to revise the bill took “a lot of time and effort,” but bringing the life-saving measure back to the floor was a promise he was determined to keep.

“There were some who didn’t think we could do it, but everyone wanted to work toward the same goal,” McCarthy said. “Our commitment to consider this legislation has been steadfast.”

The new bill makes some revisions to the earlier version’s rape exception, which required a woman seeking an abortion after 20 weeks to report the rape to law enforcement. The amended bill allows an adult woman to receive the late-term abortion if she reported the rape, or has received medical treatment or counseling at least 48 hours prior to the abortion.

Now that the House has done the heavy lifting, the Senate has no excuse not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. Our heartfelt thanks to McCarthy and his pro-life colleagues in the House for their eloquent and tenacious defense of life.

Pro-choice is to be pro-abortion, Mr. Morrison

It’s hard to know where to begin with Danny Morrison’s recent column “You can be pro-life and pro-choice at the same time,” (Feb. 21) a piece whose all-over-the-map conclusions may cover his hinder with the pro-choice crowd, but can only be arrived at by denying the humanity of the unborn.

Sorry, Mr. Morrison, you can’t have it both ways.

In his column supporting abortion and choice, Mr. Morrison ironically notes that men don’t have the right to chime in on the subject of abortion and choice. He says his support of a woman’s right to abort doesn’t mean he supports her decision to abort.

He decries the high abortion rates among blacks as a “shameful situation,” yet chooses to stand silent in tacit approval as future generations of black men and women are decimated. He lays credit for the lowest abortion rates since Roe v. Wade at the feet of the most pro-abortion president in the history of our nation without citing a single source supporting his assumption that Obamacare is the determining factor.

Most ludicrous of all, he characterizes himself as “a personally pro-life person” who “will choose life every single time,” while supporting a practice that destroys life. Every single time. There are a number of meandering trails to follow here, but I’ll limit myself to a couple of the most obvious questions.

Why don’t you “personally” like abortion, Mr. Morrison? What is it about the practice you find so “shameful?” Is it because the unborn are human beings, which means every successful abortion kills a full-fledged member of the human family?

Your stance — being personally against abortion while supporting another’s right to do it — is not only self-contradictory, it’s morally baffling.

Further, your insistence that men have no right to speak on abortion would likely come as a shock to the nine old guys in black robes who 43 years ago heard and decided Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.

It’s a shallow argument that suggests men can’t be harmed by abortion. It’s one I’ll remember the next time a distraught young man or his family calls our office asking if he has any recourse because his girlfriend is going to abort their baby, a child he wants, but she doesn’t. Tough luck, dude, you don’t. Get over it.

Mr. Morrison suggested he found the pro-life arguments recently presented to him by a friend to be hypocritical, backward and calloused. While it sounds as if those arguments were perhaps thoughtlessly presented, to dismiss them out of hand is to deny the reality that countless women, men and families have been hurt by abortion. I’ll think about that, too, the next time a woman shares with me, her eyes welling with tears, that she’s still haunted by the abortion she had 20, 30 or 40 years ago and how she wishes in the midst of that life-altering period of panic and doubt that someone had spoken truth to her.

Don’t kid yourself, Mr. Morrison. To be pro-choice is to be pro-abortion. Why not be honest and own it? The idea that one can be personally opposed to abortion while believing others should be free to choose it may feel like some sort of courageous compromise, but it’s merely a comforting illusion since both groups vote the same and both oppose legal protection for the innocent unborn.

As for the baby who dies, which side of that particular fence you’re on makes no difference at all.

Marylee Shrider is executive director of Right to Life of Kern County.

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.