Tag Archives: Abortion

Powerful Gubernatorial Ads to Hit South Texas

In anticipation of the November elections, Texas Right to Life will again launch 60-second English and Spanish language radio ads on south Texas secular and Christian stations, educating listeners about Wendy Davis’ extreme stance on abortion.

Wendy Davis filibustered for abortion on the Senate floor last summer for 11 hours.  The provisions Davis fought included ensuring abortion doctors have access to emergency services should complications or malpractice arise (hospital admitting privileges), requiring the facilities that allow abortion to be adequately prepared in cases of emergencies (ambulatory surgical center upgrades), and stopping most abortions after five months into pregnancy, the point a preborn child can feel pain.

The recent revelations of Davis’ abortion history distort the message of what Davis championed in the Texas Capitol.  Davis’ stance includes not only the so-called “hard cases,” but elective abortion, on-demand, through all nine months of pregnancy. The right to kill is what she advocated as a state senator.

Texas Right to Life’s ads will ensure that listeners are aware of Wendy Davis’ commitment to the abortion agenda–a position contrary to the typically religious views of the citizens of the Valley.  “Politicians and elected officials can no longer enjoy the luxury that their words and deeds in the Capitol stay in the Capitol.  Concerned citizens across the state should know which public officials are working against their values.  We are confident that our truth campaign on Davis’ uncompromising advancement of abortion will be well-received and of grave concern to listeners,” said Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life.

During their original airing, the Texas Right to Life ads proved significant in the Democratic primary.  We are proud of our ads, recorded by a dedicated Spanish-speaking Pro-Lifer who is gravely concerned about the effect Wendy Davis will have on the respect for all Life – those in the womb, the disabled, the sick, and the elderly.

A person who espouses a worldview that the value of one human life is dependent on another’s view cannot be entrusted with protecting the lives of all Texans.

Wendy Davis cannot become our next Governor.

Republished with permission from Texas Right to Life, written by yours truly. 

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The Battle Over 501(c)4s Continue…..

Many people are at least vaguely aware of the 2012 IRS scandal that caught Lois Lerner, Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division, disclosing to a room full of D.C. legal minds that the IRS had been systematically slowing down applications from groups that “sounded” Tea Party in nature.  While that surely has gotten media attention, what is playing out behind closed doors in Texas may have a much more immediate impact here at home.

Many 501(c)3s organizations individuals are familiar with also have a 501(c)4 arm, especially those who deal with broad social issues, such as abortion (both Planned Parenthood and Texas Right to Life operate under both entities),  criminal justice reform and ministering to inmates, etc. The current popular term for 501(c)4 operations has been dubbed “dark money.”

Generally, if John Smith donates $1500 to a 501(c)3 organization,  John can deduct the amount of his donation on his income tax returns. If John instead donates $1500 to a 501(c)4 organization, he cannot deduct that amount.  What is the difference between the two? The difference comes down to the theory behind both options: the government is okay with subsidizing (by not collecting income taxes from donors on donated amounts) organizations who engage in charitable actions, i.e. scientific research, religious entities, helping children in the foster care system. These organizations are classified as 501(c)3s.  The government is not okay with subsidizing political advocacy.  Thus, 501(c)3s cannot engage in much political work.  Note, 501(c)3s can perform a minimal amount of lobbying government for reform, but how much lobbying a group wants to do usually distinguishes between forming a (c)4 versus a (c)3.  Also note, lobbying does not equal “campaigns” for elected office.  In the discussion, there must be a caveat recognizing there is some newly-revived tension between the definition of a (c)4 given in the United States Code versus how the IRS by rule defines such entities.  Such a battle is very much outside the scope of this post!

Lobbying is necessary to an informed decision-making body (see future post on “Why lobbyists aren’t really that bad.”).  A group who wants to do a substantial amount of lobbying on any issue (from abortion, physician-assisted suicide, saving the animals, to stricter gun laws) cannot be a 501(c)3.  They can however, become a 501(c)4.  These federal IRS designations only cover tax-related issues; hence, states can still pass legislation that affects the practical workings of these entities.  Some in the Texas Legislature are attempting just that.

In the most recent legislative session (ending Summer 2013), both the Senate and the Texas House passed SB 346, a bill that would require Texas entities  to disclose the names of their donors who contributed more than $1000 once the organization spent $25,000 in a calendar year.  While not specifically defining 501(c)4s, these entities would be covered under the new law.  Due to the lack of a definition, interests on both sides of the aisle were hesitant about the bill’s applicability, leading to a failed recall attempt in the Senate.  Despite passage in both chambers, the bill was vetoed by Governor Perry.  However, today the House State Affairs will hold an interim hearing on “studying the Election Code…what types of groups are exempt from reporting requirements…how to make the political process more transparent.” 

Making government more transparent sounds like a laudable effort, right?  However, is “government transparency” a euphemism for “finding out who is funding efforts to unseat me?” The success of certain grass-roots groups (ahem, NETTP) and the line-up of those opposing anonymity suggest the latter.  Lois aside, the IRS made a policy decision – individuals have a choice: get a tax deduction with no politics or be politically active through your finances, and receive no government subsidies.  To many donors, anonymity in supporting their beliefs is worthwhile over obtaining a tax deduction.  If we take away that selling point, funding of Constitutionally-protected free political speech initiatives will likely yield to supporting only 501(c)3s.  Both are needed. 

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This is not the end: One student-mom’s story on her unplanned pregnancy

Nia is a 21-year old Interior Design major at Stephen F. Austin Statue University (SFA) in Nacogdoches, Texas.  Nia is also expecting her first child in July.

Each year, the members of Lumberjacks for Life, SFA’s student-led pro-life group, raise money for awarding scholarships to pregnant and parenting SFA students.  Any parent below the age of 35, enrolled as an undergraduate, and who has primary custody of their child(ren) are eligible to apply.  The good pro-life folks in Nacogdoches attend BBQ fundraisers and donate money to help Lumberjacks for Life provide at least two $500 scholarships annually. I was asked to review this spring semester’s applicants, and after reading through many stories of struggle, faith, and love, I asked one of LFL’s finalists, Nia, if she would mind me re-printing the answers she gave to some of the essay questions.  She agreed. I hope her story will convict my readers’ hearts to find a pregnancy support group for parents who are choosing to finish their undergraduate degree and help them with your time, finances, and prayers.  If you need to locate one, I of course have a few to suggest!

Nia’s story: After the disbelief wore off and I accepted the fact I was really pregnant, I knew in my heart I had to take responsibility for what I took part in creating. I have had many adversities in my life in the past, such as my hearing disability, which I honestly do not consider much of a disability anymore. Still, sometimes as a student I do have to accept my “disability” and make adjustments accordingly. I admit school is not easy for me, but as a junior here at Stephen F. Austin State University, I can tell you that I have never quit and have made it this far. I use my code of ethics for school as merely an example of my personality and will to overcome no matter the circumstance. As a little girl and even as a young woman, I always dreamed of being happily married with a bunch of little ones running around. I never imagined in all my life that I would be pregnant at 21 years old and unmarried. Such a situation, in the beginning, was extremely hard for me to accept. Ultimately, I had disappointed myself but the “can’t quit” part of me forced the realization that this was not the end. Instead it was just a hurdle that I would overcome, like so many others. The ultimate reason I chose life for my baby was because even though I did not plan to be a mother at 21 years old and unmarried, I could not deny a child I created LIFE no matter how difficult things are and may be in the future.

 

Nia’s advice to a friend in an unplanned pregnancy:  I have found with many young women whom I have encountered that having an abortion emotionally damaged them for life, so take that into serious consideration. There are so many programs that are willing to help mothers and their children you just have to find them, which isn’t very difficult. Often times there are also local support groups willing to help struggling moms. If raising a child is something you feel you cannot do regardless of how much help and support you receive, consider adoption. There are plenty of couples/people who cannot have children and that would love the opportunity to give your child a home and be a parent to them. My third piece of advice would be to look around at others who have had children unplanned and were still successful. Accept that things will not be easy but realize with some determination, you can succeed and be a great parent. The most important thing to realize and remember is that this is not the end of the road.

 

Words from someone who has been there.

 

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Hey Trib, it’s really “Texas Right to Life’s REFUSAL to play politics…”

Working on and off for Texas Right to Life since 2010, both as a student in their fellowship program and as a lobbyist,  I find this “controversy” surrounding Texas Right to Life’s scorecards BEYOND ridiculous.  Just today, Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock had a Tribune article lambasting TRTL, claiming he “was given a subpar score.” He scored a 96%!!  From reading the scorecard, the lost points were from a failure to co-author any versions of the 20-week pain bill or the 4-part Omnibus bill (HB 2).  Scores as high as 143 were received by legislators because of bonus points- points for co-authoring other bills on TRTL’s widely-circulated legislative agenda, something the Chairman did not do.

What makes a good political advocacy group? One that stands by its word, one that can be trusted by its members, elected officials, and legislative staffers alike to do what they proclaim to be their goals.   An effective and honest political advocacy group strives to serve its membership, to be the collective voice of their members at the Capitol.  The current “criticism” from the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) against Texas Right to Life (TRTL) highlights that TRTL is indeed one of these groups.

Texas Right to Life’s mission is to “protect life from fertilization until natural death.”  Protecting the unborn and protecting the ill, disabled, and elderly from death imposed on them by hospital boards, against their families’ wishes, and against a patient’s advance directives.  Every candidate seeking an endorsement from TRTL must undergo an extensive screening process.  Only those candidates who demonstrate and commit to BOTH of these principles earn an endorsement, and only endorsed candidates receive resources from TRTL to help win their campaign.

The New York Times recently published an article written by Texas Tribune writer, Becca Aaronson, regarding the fight last legislative session about hospital treatment in Texas. The article highlights the difference stances taken by Texas Right to Life and the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB). Repeatedly, the TCCB has attacked TRTL who negatively scored legislators that supported an expansion of involuntary medical care termination.  TCCB’s argument comes from the fact that some of these negatively scored legislators helped pass HB 2, (that filibuster bill, remember?).  According to TCCB, as long as an elected official does half of what they promised, you should look the other way.

Scoring actions on SB 303 and HB 1444 did not take legislators by surprise; I cannot even begin to tell you how many weeks, hours, and blisters from high heels were spent on educating legislators, their staff, and their individual districts on TRTL’s problems with the bills, coupled with warnings that those actions would be negatively reflected come scorecard time.  My personal opinion – I think legislators thought TRTL was bluffing, that TRTL would succumb to pressure from politicians to ignore the unfathomable blunder come campaign time.  But this situation is just another demonstration that you can believe what TRTL says, whether you like it or not.

Yes, HB 2 was a great stride for women and babies of Texas. Yes, HB 2 will probably be a great stride for our nation, and the pro-life community is thankful for the work done (going to ignore the whole “had to call a special session” angle for now).

But advocacy groups aren’t supposed to bend to fit the people in office. That would be called a campaign. And they certainly don’t exist to keep other advocacy groups happy. If you are a voter who just wants to see whether your elected official voted to protect the unborn, Texas Right to Life’s scorecards are broken down in a way that you can easily see the distinction. That’s what scorecards are for – to help inform voters on candidates’ stances, not to all hold hands and sing kumbaya when you break a campaign promise.

If Texas Right to Life didn’t stand by their decision to include SB 303/HB 1444 votes and authorship in scorecards, they would have been letting down their membership, letting down the views of the people they represent, like my family.  That Texas Right to Life refused to play politics, I’m grateful.

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What do Pro-Life People Actually “Do?”

…and we’re back.  A certain slate of classes at our beloved Baylor Law, commonly referred to as Practice Court, has quite literally eaten up my existence these past 10-12 weeks.  Finals are over, sleep is more, and I once again have the chance to write!

In response to a previous post about scholarships for pregnant and parenting students, an educated, “abortion-access-is-a-right” acquaintance of mine privately expressed her approval of such scholarships. The acquaintance commented, “Now, THAT’S more of what we need.” While confident the comment was a good-faith attempt at building discourse, her comment nonetheless disappointed me.  Why? Because it made me realize she really has no idea what the Texas pro-life community is all about.  

Pro-life people are DAILY helping women and families across the country overcome the practical implications surrounding an unplanned pregnancy.  They just help quietly.

There’s a constant tug of war, both on individual and aggregate levels, between humility and the desire to combat the myths of what a normal “pro-life” person actually does.  A good segment of the pro-life community engages in helping families in need as a reflection of Christ’s love. We help others because that is how we are called to live out our faith, and we are instructed to be humble while doing it. Undoubtedly, this humility aspect impacts the level of information generated on the multitude of loving works precipitated by pro-life Americans.

And of course, a major factor in lack of coverage is that mainstream media isn’t going to actually report anything awesome coming from a group identified as “pro-life.”

But here, in my little corner of the world, I’M going to start talking all about the amazing things pro-lifers whom I know are doing within their own communities. I know I’ve got a few Facebook friends and Twitter followers who disagree with me, so maybe this ongoing project will bear some fruit 😉

Such remarkable outpourings of pure love are directly attributable to people who diligently give to strangers.  The pro-life lawyers and doctors who give financially to scholarships at A&M and SFA.  The retired teachers who sacrifice to give to young families.  The businesses run by pro-life people who donate plates and napkins, cokes and bread for scholarship fundraisers.  It’s the college students who give of their time to organize 5ks and BBQ dinners to raise money. The college students who hold community baby showers outside Walmart. The ladies who pick up a package of diapers every time they go to the grocery store, so that new mom who calls the local pregnancy resource center can get the supplies she needs.  The many, many (x1000) families who adopt.  The many families who open their homes to a pregnant teenager in their community.  I once met an elderly woman in East Texas who still crocheted tons of blankets each year just to give to expecting moms.

That’s love, folks.  

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Lufkin PP Not Telling Women Who Local TWHP Providers Are?

Apparently, the Lufkin Planned Parenthood was turning women away without telling these women that other clinics/doctors in the area participate in the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP).  The TWHP provides family planning services and annual exams at no cost to eligible low-income Texas women.  The state essentially reimburses the clinics/physicians for such visits. One of the highlights of the 82nd Legislative Session (2011) was when lawmakers, pro-life lobbyists, General Abbott, and Governor Perry successfully crafted the Texas version of the Women’s Health Program, eliminating abortion providers from participating.  The federal Women’s Health Program refused to let Texas prohibit tax dollars from subsidizing the work of such abortion clinics, so Texas did what Texas always does – we decided we could do it ourselves.

As many of you know, Planned Parenthood recently announced the closing of their Lufkin, Bryan, and Huntsville locations. Planned Parenthood’s press releases cited the elimination of their participation in the TWHP and cuts to their state funding from 2011 as reasons for the shutdown of the Lufkin and Bryan clinics.  Soon after the announcements, I was on the phone with pro-life activists from the Lufkin/Nacogdoches areas.  An employee of one of the local pregnancy resource centers proceeded to tell me the story of a particular client that recently called their center.

The young woman, a TWHP participant, went into the Lufkin Planned Parenthood for her birth control pills (a service covered under the TWHP).  The “clinic” informed this young woman that they no longer accepted TWHP (which is accurate) and the pills would cost her $200.  Not being able to afford the $200, Planned Parenthood simply dismissed this woman. Planned Parenthood did not even tell her what other doctors/clinics in the area DO take TWHP patients. To find out what her options are under the new TWHP rules, the young woman calls the pregnancy resource center.  The center’s staff provided the young woman with a list of area doctors who do participate in TWHP and who are accepting new patients.  So Jessica Farrar, who was there to give accurate information to this young woman?  Not your beloved Planned Parenthood, but one of those sweet ladies running pregnancy resource centers whom you love to loathe at every abortion hearing.

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Highlights from Texas’ #HB2 Bill Signing

Even with law school finals on the horizon, when your boss texts and invites you to come to the signing of one of the most historic pro-LIFE pieces of legislation in the nation, you say yes. I knew the day would be the celebratory culmination of many legislative sessions, two of which I have been privileged to be a part of.  The day started with a breakfast for about fifty hosted in Governor Perry’s Appointment office, and then our group assembled into the Capitol auditorium for the bill signing.  Emily Horne and I sat in front of some reporters and got to chat with them while waiting for the ceremony to begin. Cheers were loud when Governor Perry walked in and immediately gave a warm embrace to Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville), the one Senate Democrat who voted for House Bill 2.  We can all admire Senator Lucio for standing up for what is in his heart, no matter who is against him. Offering remarks during the signing ceremony were Senator Hegar (Senate sponsor of HB 2), Representative Laubenberg (House author of HB 2), Governor Perry, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst.  A few of the day’s more memorable quotes are posted below.

After HB 2 was officially signed into law and all the photo-ops were taken, we headed over to lunch at Ruth’s Chris.  Sponsored by Texas Right to Life along with a generous pro-life friend, our legislative team enjoyed visiting with almost seventy House and Senate members, Concerned Women for America, Carol Everett of the Heidi Group, and other pro-life advocacy groups. At my table, seated with five House members and one Senator, I enjoyed listening to the officials discuss the likely impact redistricting will have on their districts, their primary opponents, and speculation on those seeking higher office.  For the second time that day, Senator Hegar managed to make me tear up with his humble words regarding the important work he and his colleagues undertook.  I was honored to be a part of this day and have been blessed to watch this legislation come together by such committed co-workers, legislators, and their staff, all of whom helped make Texas safer for women and preborn babies.

Sen. Hegar: “The power of prayer was immense that day {of the Senate debate and vote}.”

Rep. Laubenberg: “Governor Perry, your legacy in Texas will be one of economic growth but your legacy in eternity will be a defender of life.”

Governor Perry to legislators: “Folks, I want you to go home.  As long as you get that transportation funding bill on my desk.”

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst: “For those of you chanting outside, we respect your First Amendment.  And we love you.  Just like we love the preborn.”

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