Today, the 114th U.S. Congress will be called into session. Members of Congress will take their oaths to uphold the Constitution — wherein the Fourteenth Amendment states in part, “…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.”
The movement to protect defenseless pre-born lives advances into the new year with much hope. Before moving forward, it’s instructive to look back over the past year: to consider what was accomplished, and what remains undone.
10. Justice Sonia Sotomayor Grants Injunction to Little Sisters of the Poor
It shocked many Supreme Court observers when, on January 24, 2014, Justice Sotomayor (appointed by President Obama in 2009) faced a question on abortion policy… and ruled in favor of life.
Under the new health law, would a group of Catholic nuns who perform charity work in a non-church capacity be forced to pay for contraceptives in their insurance plan? Justice Sotomayor granted the Little Sisters of the Poor an injunction, allowing their life-saving work to continue unimpeded by Obamacare… for now.
The nuns argued their case at a new hearing on December 8; now pro-life advocates pray and wait for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision.
Every year, Little Sisters of the Poor assist 13,000 people worldwide (Photo: The Becket Fund)
9. Ice Bucket Challenge Sparks National Debate on Embryonic Stem-Cell Research
The ALS Association hit a fundraising bonanza when its “ice bucket challenge” went viral in August 2014, raising more than $100 million in only one month.
Yet some of their funding is used for embryonic stem-cell research, which requires the destruction of human life. Pro-life experts were quick to raise the alarm, and discussion of the stem-cell issue became commonplace.
Many faith-based groups that gave to the ALS Association, including Dave Ramsey’s Lampo Group, explicitly noted they would restrict research funding to exclude embryonic stem-cell research:
8. Two Pro-Abortion Bills Defeated in Congress
Just ten days until their summer vacation, one would think U.S. Senators would focus on economic issues or any number of global crises. Instead, now-former Majority Leader Harry Reid fast-tracked votes on two pro-abortion laws. (No wonder Americans’ approval of Congress reached historic lows.)
Thankfully, in both cases, conservative leaders were there to uphold the values of life and freedom. Rep. Marsha Blackburn held up an ultrasound image of her grandson in a Senate hearing on S. 1696, a radical proposal that would dangerously wipe out hundreds of common-sense safety measures protecting pre-born lives.
And, in a close vote of the full Senate, impassioned messages by Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz swayed enough votes to defeat S. 2578 — a bill designed to reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision (see below).
7. Film to Expose Abortionist Kermit Gosnell Crowd-Funded at Over $2 Million
Hollywood studios spent billions in 2014 trying to crack the elusive “faith and family” market with big-budget flicks like Noah and Exodus. When talented true believers got behind the camera, many of the year’s best films came together — from dystopian drama The Giver to the documentary One Generation Away and beyond.
More high-caliber pro-life films are on the way. After a USA Today column snowballed into an awareness campaign, millions now know what horrors occurred at Kermit Gosnell’s infamous abortion center. Telling this grisly story is difficult, yet it has opened eyes.
Even as the final convictions in the Gosnell court case were handed down, conservative filmmaking team Ann and Phelim Media announced plans to produce a crime drama centered on America’s most notorious serial killer. Within months, the team surpassed its $2 million funding goal thanks to more than 25,000 backers and have since signed on an award-winning screenwriter.
Now in pre-production: a crime drama based on Gosnell’s story (Image: Ann and Phelim Media)
6. Thanks to 77 Year-Old Grandmother, Supreme Court Upholds Free Speech
On June 26, 2014, sidewalk counselor Eleanor McCullen won the right to speak up freely to women entering abortion centers in Massachusetts after the Supreme Court decided unanimously in her favor.
The 77 year-old grandmother’s case nullified a Massachusetts “buffer zone” law, which obstructed free speech around an abortion center’s entrance. However, only weeks later Massachusetts passed a similar law.
Now even a peaceful counselor like McCullen could face severe penalties — fines that reach up to a whopping $50,000 and up to 5 years in jail — if approaching within 25 feet of an abortion center’s entrance. Conflicts continue over “buffer zone” laws in Massachusetts, Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
5. Investigation Uncovers Horrific Realities of the Abortion Industry
Since 2008, the new media movement known as Live Action has worked to chronicle the abortion industry’s horrific practices: from child abuse to racism to sex trafficking, all too common at local Planned Parenthood centers.
4. Common Sense Safety Measures Shut Down Abortion Centers
As federal lawmakers have (thus far) failed to enact national measures to protect pre-born lives, state legislators have taken up the pro-life cause in recent years — with some degree of success. The pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute’s figures tell the story:
Lives are being saved due to over 200 recent pro-life laws (Source: Guttmacher Institute)
States’ pro-life laws are not one-size-fits-all, as Americans United for Life chronicles every year. Some are informed-consent laws, some safety and health regulations, and others affirm medical professionals’ freedom of conscience (among many other types of laws.) These laws have forced unsafe, unsanitary abortion centers to close, including 73 facilities over the past year. More than 700 abortion centers remain open nationwide.
The positive results of pro-life laws are clearly evident. Today, 18 percent of America’s future population is still lost to abortion; yet this abortion rate is the lowest since Roe v. Wade. “Public funding restrictions, parental involvement laws, and properly designed informed consent laws all reduce the incidence of abortion,” states Dr. Michael New in his latest research.
However, many pro-life state laws have been challenged in court by well-financed pro-abortion special interests; the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Louisiana will hear the latest case against Texas’ pro-life law on January 7.
3. Christian Missionaries Lead the Fight Against Deadly Ebola Outbreak
A missionary doctor serving the poorest of the poor in Africa would never expect to be named TIME Magazine‘s 2014 Person of the Year and the 2014 Texan of the Year. Dr. Kent Brantly, medical director with international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, went unnoticed serving at the Eternal Love Winning Africa Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia… until he was one of the first Americans to contract Ebola.
Missionary doctor Kent Brantly contracted Ebola serving in Liberia (Photo: Samaritan’s Purse)
Ultimately Brantly received an experimental drug and survived the deadly disease, which has tragically claimed over 6,800 lives. He is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and a member of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations for over a decade.
Brantly credits God for his survival, including in a recent hour-long NBC News Special:
“I survived, and I want to give credit to God for bringing me through that… When I see how every piece of the puzzle came together to provide me with the care that I received, I see the hand of God at work, and I have to give Him glory.”
Samaritan’s Purse, founded in 1970, provides practical aid and medical support in over 100 countries worldwide. Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and the organization’s president, is an outspoken pro-life advocate.
2. America at Its Best: Pro-Life Victories in Tennessee and Nationwide
The cause of life advanced in the states too. Before Election Day, every major newspaper in Tennessee endorsed a “No” vote on Amendment 1 — a modest proposal to allow the State Legislature to enact safety regulations in abortion centers. The pro-life Yes on 1 advocates prevailed; local AP reporters recently named Amendment 1 Tennessee’s Story of the Year.
Advocates for life expect this Congress to act on their convictions. Five significant pro-life laws were proposed in the 113th Congress, yet all failed to pass the U.S. Senate under Sen. Harry Reid. Because many winning candidates ran on a platform supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the new Congress is expected to vote on this legislation soon.
Mia Love and her husband Jason met while he was doing missions work (Photo: Love for Utah)
1. Green Family’s First Amendment Rights Upheld in Hobby Lobby Court Case
In 2014′s most-discussed case, Hobby Lobby — a national arts-and-crafts chain owned by David Green’s family which employs over 16,000 Americans — successfully defended before the Supreme Court its policy of not covering in employee insurance plans four drugs and devices that can end the life of a pre-born baby.
“Obamacare has been on a collision course with Americans’ individual liberty and religious freedom from the beginning,” notes Sarah Torre of The Heritage Foundation. “The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case prevented Obamacare’s Department of Health and Human Services mandate from careening into the religious freedom of family business owners.”
Dealing with moral issues entangled in Obamacare remains a potent concern in 2015. As for the Green Family, their new project is currently under construction in Washington, DC: the Museum of the Bible, slated to open in 2017.