A Supreme Case for Lives

A Supreme Case for Lives

December 1, 2021

In the most-watched case of a generation, the eyes of the nation's pro-lifers were on the Supreme Court this morning as oral argument was held in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, a case that will answer the question of "whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional."

That's legal-speak for a case that could see the demise of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, decades-old cases that wrongly constitutionalized a right to abortion, and whose consequences we have been living with ever since.

Many are hopeful after this morning's argument. The justices were mostly quiet when Mississippi's Solicitor General Scott Stewart defended his state's law outlawing abortion after 15 weeks. Only Justice Sonia Sotomayor showed serious antagonism to Stewart, and at one point was downright hostile with her abortion apologetic, absurdly asking him: "how is your interest anything but a religious view?" Stewart ably argued the state's case, however, pointing out that Roe and Casey are without solid footing and do injustice to what the Constitution says about a right to abortion, which is nothing.

Next up was the abortion advocates' attorney Julie Rikelman, joined by the Biden administration's Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar. At this point the justices turned up the heat a bit. When Justice Samuel Alito quizzed Prelogar about whether Plessy v. Ferguson (an 1896 case that upheld racial segregation laws) was an erroneous ruling, Prelogar agreed it was "egregiously wrong." The abortion advocates were also forced to acknowledge that they don't want to settle on any middle ground; they not only want to retain the undue burden standard from Casey, but admitted they want to keep Roe's viability standard too. But as Chief Justice John Roberts observed, "we share [the viability] standard with the People's Republic of China and North Korea" -- hardly countries we should be comparing ourselves to, a point made in a newly released FRC report on abortion around the world.

All in all, things seemed to go well for Mississippi and poorly for the abortionists today, and at least one former Supreme Court clerk agreed. Though it's sometimes tough to read into the seemingly always sky-is-falling abortion proponents, they seem dismayed by this morning's argument. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who along with Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) filed an amicus brief in the case, remarked: "After listening to the argument, I believe this could be the case that finally reverses the great injustice of Roe." FRC's Katherine Beck Johnson, who helped file FRC's amicus brief in the case, was also optimistic: "I certainly think they are going to uphold the law," she remarked, while observing we should be aiming to see Roe and Casey fully overturned. As Katherine told the crowd gathered outside the court this morning:

"The pro-aborts claim that my daughter must be able the kill her child to achieve her goals, they claim that the child in my womb has no legal right to exist. We reject these lies. We know that my daughter and little girls everywhere not only deserve the right to exist but are able to dream of their careers and families too. They know the child in my womb, though small, is a unique person who deserves to live. We fight for these children, the littlest, and most vulnerable ones in our society. We call on the Supreme Court to finally recognize Mississippi and every other state's right to protect the unborn."

Amen. As the arguments continue to be analyzed, all eyes will be on the court this spring, when we can likely expect an opinion before the end of June 2022. As we patiently await this ruling, let us continue to hope and pray for justice to prevail and life to win, both across our land and around the world.

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

COVID Shots for Tots? Leave It up to Parents

December 1, 2021

Over the course of 2021, we've heard a steady drumbeat about getting the COVID-19 shot from the Biden administration and from the mainstream media that began softly but has steadily increased in intensity. In the last few months, Biden and the media have tossed aside the drum and are now using a bullhorn: every American, without exception, must get the COVID-19 shot. Some state officials are now beginning to fall in line with this pronouncement by mandating the shot for children, following the FDA's emergency use authorization last month of Pfizer's COVID shot for children ages five to 11.

As questions swirl about the new Omicron COVID variant (like the obvious question of, "What good does a year-old vaccine do if we are now dealing with newly discovered variants?"), more basic questions have gone unaddressed about the rights that parents have to decide what is best for their children's health.

As the pressure builds for universal mandates from the Biden administration, more and more medical groups are raising their voices in concern. The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) recently announced their support for "parental choice over narrow mandates." Dr. Russell Gombosi, a member of ACPeds' Board of Directors, joined "Washington Watch" to discuss their opposition to mandating COVID shots for children.

"Children tend to do very well with COVID," Gombosi pointed out. "It tends to be a mild illness, and a generally healthy child is going to get through the illness without significant complications. Now, that's certainly not true of everyone, and those with preexisting conditions also are at higher risk. And so it's not to minimize it completely because there are some deaths, but in a way it's similar to influenza. And we don't mandate influenza vaccinations."

Gombosi went on to underscore the robustness and effectiveness against transmission that natural immunity offers. "The mRNA vaccines target one specific spike protein, whereas [with] natural immunity, you are getting T cell immunity, B cell immunity, and mucosal immunity. The mucosa is part of your nose and respiratory passage, which is how the virus enters your system in the first place. And the vaccine really doesn't do anything for that type of immunity. And so being vaccinated doesn't really serve the purpose of doing a lot to prevent transmission to others, which is one of the big arguments for getting the whole public vaccinated."

Perhaps even more maddening is the fact that highly legitimate concerns about adverse health effects from the COVID shot are consistently brushed aside. "Let's not forget, in children, there [are] studies showing [that] cardiomyopathy can result after vaccination in teenagers and young adults, primarily boys and young men," Gombosi said. "That kind of pro-inflammatory or autoimmune result is cause [for] valid concern. One of the problems is if you have had a recent COVID infection and you get vaccinated, you're also at significant higher risk of having a complication of the vaccine."

Still, Gombosi was quick to make it clear that ACPeds is not opposed to the COVID shot in principle. "We're not opposed to vaccines in general ... It's just that in this certain circumstance, we don't have long-term experience. And to mandate something without such long-term experience, I think is a step too far from a medical standpoint."

But beyond these practical concerns about long-term health effects lies a more fundamental concern. Looming mandates for children fall exactly in line with the Biden administration's general philosophy of siphoning away parental rights one by one. First it was their "Plan to Take Over American Families," then it was their targeting of parents concerned about critical race theory and transgenderism in public schools, and now it's about forcing a substance into the little bodies of children regardless of their parent's wishes. It's clear that the Biden administration wants to enforce a one-size-fits-all policy on our nation's children. But families know better -- it is parents that know their children most intimately and know best how to meet their individual needs.

Iran from Responsibility on U.S. Nuclear Deal

December 1, 2021

Obama is no longer president, but the "team that is around Biden was the same one that was around Obama," said Congressman Michael Waltz (R-Fla.). That's why his approach to Iran seems like a blast from the past -- only weaker. This week, diplomats from six countries are meeting in Vienna to renegotiate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K. are all there, but the U.S. is participating indirectly because Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018. American negotiators may not yet have a seat at the tilted table, but they've made clear they want to be and their strategy to get there is the same as under President Obama, said Waltz, "What can we give away? What can we concede?"

How are the negotiations going so far? That depends on who you listen to. Enrique Mora, a European Union diplomat leading the talks, said, "The Iranian delegation... have accepted that the work done over the six first rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead, so no point in going back." Iranian top negotiator Ali Bagheri said quite the opposite, "All discussions that took place in the six rounds ... are subject to negotiations. This was admitted by all parties." Were these diplomates in the same meeting? Or have Western negotiators been thoroughly hoodwinked by their own wishful naivety?

There is cause for skepticism, urged Waltz. Of the three components of a nuclear weapons program, he said, "the actual fissile material, the weaponization of the warhead, and then the ballistic missiles," the previous Iran deal only addressed fissile material, and that badly. Imagine if a "parole officer had to give a month's notice... and then they could only check one bedroom," he said. Those were the inspection terms of the deal Obama's team negotiated. Also left out of the agreement was Iran's sponsorship of foreign terrorist organizations and American hostages in Iranian prisons. It's hard to imagine how the deal could have done less for the U.S.

Yet "the new Iranian regime is even harder line than the last one," explained Waltz. "The new Iranian president criticized his predecessor for entering into the Obama's nuclear deal of saying they didn't even get enough back then, even though we literally gave them pallets of cash." Iran is now demanding a complete cessation of all U.S. sanctions, even ones unrelated to their nuclear program, as part of the new deal -- when the U.S. isn't even at the negotiating table. One nation whose leaders aren't fooled by Iran is Israel. "Iran deserves no rewards, no bargain deals and no sanctions relief in return for their brutality," warned Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. "I call upon our allies around the world: Do not give in to Iran's nuclear blackmail."

President Trump "put on a maximum pressure campaign," said Waltz. "The Iranian regime was reeling because of it. Their economy was in the tank. They couldn't afford to pay their terrorist proxies." He believed Iran was prepared to return to the negotiating table "from a position of weakness" if Trump was reelected. Alas, after President Biden's catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, America isn't even at the table.

The stakes are high. "If Iran gets the bomb," warned Waltz, "they've already said Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth." Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other Middle East powers would race to obtain their own nuclear weapons. "That would destabilize the entire world," Waltz predicted. The Biden administration has a chance to keep their finger off the trigger. Instead, they're putting their finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

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