Connor Semelsberger is Director of Federal Affairs for Life and Human Dignity at Family Research Council. Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant with the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com on September 24, 2021.
Last Friday afternoon, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra quietly announced a new set of actions in response to the implementation of Texas’ Heartbeat Act, a pro-life law the U.S. Supreme Court recently allowed to go into effect while further litigation plays out.
Today, Speaker Pelosi is forcing a vote on Congresswoman Judy Chu’s (D-Calif.) Women’s Health Protection Act (H.R. 3755). A more accurate name for this bill would be the Abortion on Demand Act, since it seeks to codify Roe v. Wade and supersede state laws, thus preventing enforcement of pro-life legislation like the Texas Heartbeat Act and laws that establish health and safety protocols for women who take chemical abortion pills.
Pelosi’s push and Becerra’s announcement are the latest installments in Democrat leadership and President Joe Biden’s “whole-of-government” approach to overturning this piece of democratically enacted legislation.
The three-pronged plan announced by Becerra includes: 1) increasing Title X funding to provide “emergency contraception and family planning services,” 2) using the Church Amendments to protect abortionists rather than pro-life doctors, and 3) utilizing the Enforcement of Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) to oblige medical providers to offer abortions as emergency treatment.
Section 1008 of the Title X statute states that abortion is not to be considered a legitimate method of family planning, and the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funding of abortion. During the Trump administration, HHS employed the Protect Life Rule to ensure the Title X program complied with the law and didn’t subsidize abortion businesses. The Protect Life Rule also clarified that pro-life and faith-based organizations could receive Title X funds without fear of being required to provide abortion referrals against their consciences. Now the Biden administration is moving quickly to rewrite the Title X regulations to funnel funds intended for legitimate family planning services to abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood.
The Church Amendments are a series of amendments passed over the past 40 years that provide federal protections for health care personnel that refuse to perform abortions. There is a stark difference between how pro-life and pro-abortion administrations have chosen to enforce these amendments. For example, the Trump administration issued regulations further enforcing conscience protections such as the Church Amendments in order to ensure that medical practitioners were not required to participate in contraceptive or abortive procedures that violated their personal ethics. However, Secretary Becerra has conveniently rediscovered the Church Amendments (although he is aiming them at the protection of abortionists when they were primarily designed to protect pro-lifers from discrimination), and this after the Biden administration decided to ignore enforcing federal conscience protections by dropping an investigation of a nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion at the University of Vermont Medical Center against her conscience.
Additionally, the Trump administration employed EMTALA to protect babies who are born alive following an abortion attempt, ensuring that they received the same life-sustaining medical care that any other child born at the same gestational age is entitled to receive. EMTALA provides rights to anyone who comes to a hospital emergency department, requiring hospitals to provide medical screenings regardless of their condition or ability to pay. Now, under the Biden administration, the enforcement of EMTALA would create what amounts to a death sentence for children in the womb or newborns who survive abortion attempts, if physicians can excuse the abortion as an emergency medical treatment for the mother.
Since he arrived in office, Biden has demonstrated time and time again the fluidity of his morality and the unreliability of assertions he makes about his core beliefs. While calling himself a Catholic, Biden responded to the Texas Heartbeat Act by saying that he no longer believed that life begins at conception. This directly contradicts his statements during the 2012 vice presidential debate.
The abortion extremism of Biden, Becerra, and Pelosi is no longer surprising. However, their insistence on claiming to belong to the Catholic faith adds insult to injury for those faithful to the teachings of the Church. These three apostles for abortion on demand demonstrate their untrustworthiness by advocating for values that explicitly fly in the face of the religion they claim to practice. The Catholic Church has always unequivocally condemned abortion and asserted the right to life, and its members are many of the staunchest advocates in the pro-life movement. If politicians are dishonest about the religious values they claim to hold, how can their motivation be trusted at face value when it comes to policy?
The Biden administration’s manipulation of federal government resources in order to convert hospitals into abortion mills and its fraudulent representation of religious values could have come directly from the playbook of an authoritarian regime such as China. By seeking to overpower Texas’ democratically created legislation, Biden is signaling to Americans that he is willing to overpower their moral values and preferences at every turn. Furthermore, the actions taken by the Biden administration in response to the Texas law will have lasting consequences for other states and their pre-viability abortion restrictions.
In 1787, Benjamin Franklin responded to a citizen’s query about what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had created with “A republic, if you can keep it.” The contrast between pro-life and pro-abortion administrations could not be clearer – it is the difference between preserving a democratic republic and following the patterns of authoritarianism.