Family Research Council

September 02, 2014 - Tuesday

DeGravelle Slams the Gavel on Clinic Law

The only thing abortion groups wanted on Labor Day was to keep women out of the labor room. And over the weekend, a few unelected judges were happy to help. A day after Planned Parenthood's "abortion vigil," judges in two states tried to answer those prayers by putting the brakes on common sense clinic laws. While most people were loading their cars for the long weekend, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel decided to help drive the agenda of the pro-abortion crowd by temporarily blocking Texas's new rules for abortion facilities.

In his 21-page opinion, Yeakel complains that asking clinics to put safety first by upgrading their equipment and facilities was too burdensome. "These substantial obstacles have reached a tipping point," Yeakel ruled, halting a law that could have put as many as 14 clinics out of business.

Essentially, the legislature had passed an order, as part of HB 2, requiring that abortion clinics meet surgical center standards (which, if they truly cared about women, would have already been met). The goal was simple: to protect more women from a Kermit Gosnell-type clinic, where safety is secondary to profit. Things like wider hallways for gurneys or modern operating rooms are logical precautions, especially since most facilities aren't equipped to handle the emergencies that took the lives of Karnamaya Mongar, Jennifer Morbelli, Tonya Reaves, and others.

For an industry supposedly predicated on "women's health," you'd think the clinics would be supportive. Think again. The abortion industry flew into action, raising an army to try with unelected judges what it couldn't do with the people's representatives -- kill these clinic laws. Now, with pro-life successes sweeping the nation, the Left's only hope to maintain their liberal grip on the culture is in the courts. And so far, they've done a fine job exploiting it.

On Sunday, just two days after Yeakel's overreach, the urge to freeze pro-life laws must have been contagious, because U.S. District Judge John deGravelles lowered the boom on Louisiana's, stopping the measure just hours before it was set to take effect. Like Texas's, the Pelican State's proposal (which, interestingly enough, was sponsored by a Democrat), passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. This law complemented an earlier law that I had authored on standards for abortion clinics by requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic in case of complications.

For various reasons -- not the least of which is the hospitals' reluctance to issue them -- most physicians have trouble getting this kind of access. Three of the state's abortion clinics sued to stop the requirement, which had the potential to shut all five down. Unlike Yeakel, Judge deGravelles allowed the law to take effect -- but barred any clinic or doctor from being punished while they try to meet the criteria. Still, it was a disappointing development, especially when one man can overrule a statewide consensus for stronger safeguards.

But the courts shouldn't be the final word on the matter. All too often state legislators walk away when the courts strike down their laws. What they need to understand is that the courts aren't the final authority on these issues. In the truest sense, these activist judges need to be challenged. Never before has there been such a wave of pro-life enthusiasm from coast to coast. The Bloomberg Report crunched the numbers and estimates that 58 clinics have closed in 24 states just because of laws like these.

Even the Left sees the writing on the wall. "This kind of change is incredibly dramatic," said a Guttmacher Institute spokeswoman. "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change... (is) so different from what's happened in the past." Tell your elected representatives that now isn't the time to give up. Now is the time to put the responsibility for this "war on women" where it belongs: on the abortion industry and the jaded judges who do their bidding.

Abercrombie and Flinch...

"Gay marriage supporters push hard," the headline read. Maybe too hard. In Hawaii, Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie made the mistake of caving to those supporters -- and, as far as he's concerned, it cost him his job. Back in November of 2013, Abercrombie called a special session to legalize same-sex "marriage," instead of giving voters a voice. Rather than put the issue on the ballot, as thousands of people asked for, he fast-tracked the bill through the legislature.

Unfortunately for Abercrombie, he may have stopped Hawaiians from voting on marriage, but he couldn't stop them from voting in the primary. And that's where most of the state had the say they'd been waiting for. For the first time in Hawaii's history, a Democratic Governor was unseated in the primary. And handily. Abercrombie lost by a landslide, conceding a massive 2-1 margin to his opponent, despite outspending him 10-1. This weekend, he blamed the disaster on his decision to redefine marriage.

"Republicans crossed over en masse to vote in the Democratic primary, and then the religious factor came in. Doctrinally I was outside the circle and paid for it." Nothing, not even a full bank account, could help him recover once local pastors and churches engaged. "I had more money than my opponent... raised more money, spent more money," Abercrombie said, "but it didn't do me any good."

Of course, the media would have you believe that the debate over marriage is over. But the next time you're tempted to believe them, ask Neil Abercrombie how "over" the discussion really is. Thanks to this election, he'll have plenty of time to answer.

Farm Refuses to Cowtow on Marriage

There's been a bumper crop of same-sex "marriage" controversies -- and the latest victim is a New York family farm. Two years ago, a lesbian couple approached the Christian owners about renting the property for their same-sex "wedding" -- only to be turned down. The Gifford family said they'd be happy to open up the barn to a reception, but because of their faith, couldn't -- in good conscience -- participate in the ceremony.

Angry, the couple complained to the New York Human Rights Commission, which last month ordered Liberty Ridge to pay $13,000 in fines for refusing to violate their faith. The family's attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom's James Trainor, was shocked.

"Liberty Ridge Farm has employed gay people and has conducted events for same-sex couples," he explained. "The Giffords' objection was to... participating in the wedding ceremony itself and not to providing service in general to lesbians." Late last week, ADF announced that the controversy will cost Liberty Ridge a lot more than $13,000. "Going forward, (Cynthia and Robert Gifford) have decided to no longer host any wedding ceremonies on their property," Trainor told The Blaze. "Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run."

For the Giffords, the financial impact of their decision (and the Commission's) is enormous. Once again, the trumpeters of "tolerance" have taken away a family's security -- their livelihood -- to make a political point. As far as they're concerned, freedom is a one-way street that will run right over your business, if necessary. So remind me again, which side is being discriminated against?

Limbaugh Joins Star-Studded VVS Line-up!

Where can you go in Washington and find 2,000 pro-family conservatives in one place? Try FRC Action's Values Voter Summit. In a few weeks (September 26-28), men and women from across the country who share your passion for life, marriage, religious liberty, and limited government will join forces at the Omni Shoreham Hotel for a weekend meant to encourage and rejuvenate the conservative movement.

With speakers like Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rick Santorum, Govs. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) and Mike Huckabee, Mark Levin, Lt. Col. Oliver North, Michelle Malkin, Erick Erickson, and the Benham Brothers galvanizing the troops, attendees can look forward to being equipped for the elections ahead. Best-selling author David Limbaugh just confirmed, joining a line-up with several congressional stalwarts and crowd favorites. Don't miss a power-packed program, including celebrity book signings, sold-out exhibit hall, and in-depth breakout training sessions. Tickets start at just $99 for adults and $50 for students (free scholarships are available). Get yours today at ValuesVoterSummit.org!

** If you missed it, FRC's Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin joined Fox News's Gretchen Carlson this afternoon to talk about the recent killing of an American journalist by ISIS. Check out the video below.

Click here to view


Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

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