Winning for Life Requires Action

COMMENTARY: We who are pro-life, pro-family and desire religious freedom must continue to pray and must support our political representatives in upholding their campaign promises.

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On Nov. 8, 2016, pro-life voters helped defeat an anti-life, anti-religious-freedom candidate for president. Triumphant President Donald Trump has named a cabinet that may be the most favorable toward life, traditional marriage and religious liberty in the history of this nation, and he has promised to nominate Supreme Court justices who are pro-life and believe in constitutional originalism rather than judicial activism.

On Sept. 18, 1862, after the previous day’s fierce fighting, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee withdrew his battered army from Antietam and retreated to Virginia. The superior Union forces under the command of Gen. George B. McClellan had an opportunity to re-engage and destroy the Confederate army and possibly end the war. McClellan, however, did not pursue, and Lee was able to reconstitute his forces and fight for another two and a half years.

The designated nominee for secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services has a 100% congressional voting record on pro-life issues. The pick for secretary of the Department of Education has received strong endorsements from national pro-life groups. Trump’s selection for attorney general is a protector of religious liberty. His pick for secretary of defense is a champion of the persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

But leaders need supporters, just as generals need troops and politicians need constituents. If a culture of life is to guide the policies of this nation once again, continued pro-life action is needed. Passivity, timidity and false compromise after this electoral success will assure that much of the current policy remains unchanged.

President Barack Obama pursued a strong irreligious agenda from virtually the first to the last day of his eight-year administration. Three days after his inauguration in January 2009, he rescinded the Mexico City Policy, originally enacted in 1984. The regulation prohibited private organizations that received U.S. foreign aid from performing or promoting abortions abroad. His secularist policies continued unabated — increasing federal funding for abortion; imposing mandates that force religious organizations and family-owned businesses to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization in their health care plans; promoting the homosexual agenda; creating gender self-identity rights; declaring that Catholic colleges, hospitals and social-service agencies that hire and serve non-Catholics do not qualify for a religious exemption from certain government regulations; canceling grants to Catholic programs that provide relief to the victims of human trafficking because the Church opposes abortion; and not defending against legal challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

This godless pursuit continued through Dec. 15, 2016, when the Department of Health and Human Services adopted a rule to prevent states from prohibiting federal funds appropriated for family planning under Title X of the Public Health Service Act from going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. The rule took effect Jan. 18, two days before Obama’s term ended.

Planned Parenthood, which performed 30.6% of all abortions in the United States in 2015, has enjoyed a favored relationship with the outgoing administration. In the past eight years, its federal funding increased from $363 million in 2008 to $554 million in 2015.

President Trump and the Republican congressional leadership have stated that a bill to defund Planned Parenthood and dismantle Obamacare will be one of the first items on the agenda after the inauguration. The funds currently going to less than 665 Planned Parenthood facilities will be awarded to some 13,540 Federally Qualified Health Centers, which do not provide abortions, and thus will increase public access to health care services such as pap smears and breast exams.

The effort to defund Planned Parenthood is not only a financial imperative, but a moral one, as well. In December 2016, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee referred several Planned Parenthood affiliates to the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for possible prosecution for illegally selling body parts from aborted infants.

With the change in the presidency, a radical opposition will employ every political maneuver and public-relations ploy to preserve — and even expand — the anti-Christian, anti-life, anti-family executive orders, laws, regulations and policies of the outgoing administration.

Homosexual-rights activists are working to legally protect “sexual orientation and gender identity.” These measures, referred to as “SOGI,” would empower the government to use the force of law to punish individuals and organizations that act on their religious convictions.

Under these decrees, persons could incur fines, jail time and personal ruin, and organizations could be threatened with the loss of grants, contracts, licensing and tax exemption. Already, the Education Department has interpreted Title IX to require schools and colleges under nondiscrimination statutes to allow students access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on their claimed gender rather than their birth sex.

The first 100 days of a new presidency are most important for getting things done. Executive branch actions are not laws, and thus a new president can abolish previous ones by a stroke of a pen. It is expected that President Trump and HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price, working in collaboration with majorities in both houses of Congress, will not only repeal the Obama actions, but enact new legal protections for the most vulnerable members of society.

It bodes well that, less than 72 hours after his inauguration, the president reinstated the Mexico City Policy prohibiting federal funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that provide or promote abortion in other nations.

In addition, the new president, his cabinet and Congress should act quickly to: eliminate regulations in the military and federal agencies that criminalize Christian beliefs on sexuality, marriage and religious expression; overturn the Obamacare mandate that requires faith-based organizations to provide employee health care insurance that supports sterilization, contraception and abortifacients; repeal regulations that force schools and businesses dealing with the public to have to allow people to use bathrooms and changing rooms based on preferred gender not biological sex; and nominate and confirm a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court.

Electing a pro-life president was a success. But it is a dangerous assumption to consider this as the desired victory. We who are pro-life, pro-family and desire religious freedom must continue to pray and must support our political representatives in upholding their campaign promises.

We must turn the success of the recent hard-fought election campaign into a complete victory and re-establish a culture of life in this nation.

Lawrence Grayson is a

visiting scholar at

The Catholic University of America.