Wait Management: Days of Dobbs Prayer Ahead

Wait Management: Days of Dobbs Prayer Ahead

December 6, 2021

The Supreme Court arguments may be over, but the speculation over what happens next is just beginning. A ruling on abortion in June could mean a lot for the midterms in November. But which side stands to benefit? A lot of that depends on what the justices decide -- and there are plenty of scenarios, legal experts explain.

Reading the tea leaves on any Supreme Court decision is tricky business, but on this case, Supreme Court attorney Erin Hawley thinks the justices left plenty of clues behind. The Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel (and wife of Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo.) said she couldn't have been "more pleased" with the oral arguments. As someone who's clerked at the court, litigated before the court, taught law, and worked at the Justice Department, Hawley certainly knows what she's talking about when she says the justices were receptive to pro-life arguments. "I was really

pleased with the questions asked by Justice [Brett] Kavanaugh, by Justice [Amy Coney] Barrett, and the Chief Justice [John Roberts] as well... [I]t's always so difficult to predict the Supreme Court. But all indications from oral arguments were that the Supreme Court is seriously considering overturning Roe versus Wade."

In her mind, there are three possible outcomes from the case, which she explained in detail on "Washington Watch." The first one, which she called "the one that I most definitely hope the court takes" is overruling Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. In her mind, Wednesday's argument showed that "this is the direction a number of Supreme Court justices are leaning." Justice Kavanaugh, in particular, insisted more than once that the Constitution is neither "pro-choice nor pro-life." And, given that fact, he said, shouldn't the court "be scrupulously neutral as to abortion and return that issue to the people so that states can protect life?" To Hawley, "this strongly indicates that he's tired of the justices being in this position of having to legislate and create rules that are extra constitutional."

If the court doesn't strike Roe or Casey down, there are a couple of other options -- like upholding Mississippi's 15-week ban on abortion and limiting the ruling to just one state. "Mississippi has a really common sense law..." Hawley insisted. "[It protects life] when the procedure is especially brutal, when babies can do things like smile and open and close their hands. They have all of their organs. They have a heartbeat. So the court could simply decide to uphold Mississippi's law, and... this seemed to be the direction that the chief was leaning. I'm hoping he'll go further. But he mentioned numerous times that the viability line, which currently forbids states from protecting life before 22 weeks, is completely arbitrary." Even the author of Roe, Justice Harry Blackmun, recognized that. So carving out Mississippi's law as acceptable could be a middle-of-the-road position the court takes.

The last possibility is the worst scenario for pro-lifers -- and the unborn: affirming Roe v. Wade and declaring that no state has the power to outlaw abortion before the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy. "That would mean that Mississippi's law would fall, and states would be unable to protect life at 15 weeks or 20 weeks," Hawley warned. And yet, as so many scholars have pointed out -- including Erin -- "There's simply nothing about a right to an abortion in the Constitution's text structure or history." Mississippi's legal team made that argument very convincingly on Wednesday, and if the justices agree, the issue will return to the states -- where both sides are gearing up for an epic battle over the sanctity of human life.

For Democrats, who are desperate to give anyone a reason to vote for them after these disastrous 10 months, a decision overturning Roe is one way they think they could boost turnout in an otherwise dismal election landscape. Already, top Democrats are running with their sky-is-falling messaging, warning that 26 states (according to the liberal Guttmacher Institute) are "certain or likely to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned." Their biggest hope is that the suburban moms the GOP gained over the issue of education in places like Virginia will come back to the fold over abortion.

But not everyone is so sure. While Americans might be narrowly in favor of keeping abortion legal, next to none of them support what the Democrats are calling for: taxpayer-funded abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. For years, the Left has claimed that a majority of the country wants to keep Roe v. Wade -- but that's only because most people don't understand what it means. Once you explain that Roe doesn't just legalize abortion -- but allows the brutal killing of a fully developed child right up to the moment of birth, the country is much less enthusiastic. Only eight percent agree with that position (which happens to be the platform of the national Democratic Party).

The far-Left, who's spent the last several decades hiding behind the courts and America's misconceptions about Roe, is going to have to come to grips with the fact that their abortion extremism doesn't go over well in most corners of the country. Once more states start having the hard conversations about what abortion entails, the Democratic Party will be revealed for the radicals that they are. Right now, 65 percent of the country thinks abortion should be illegal in the second trimester, the AP reports. Eighty percent want it outlawed in the third trimester. By those numbers, even Mississippi's law is more lenient than most Americans would prefer.

That doesn't mean the next several months are going to be easy. Even if the court does overturn Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers will have their work cut out for them. But it's work that we've spent the last half century praying for the opportunity to do. "Let us not become weary in doing good," Galatians 6 tells us, "for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Don't lose heart. Keep sowing in prayer, and together we'll see what God can do!


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


FRC at the U.N.: Speaking Out on Religious Freedom

December 6, 2021

The United Nations has rather a dubious reputation in conservative circles. Understandably so, as powerful regimes like China use their influence at the U.N. to limit the participation of human rights groups or countries gang up to disproportionately condemn the small country of Israel. Yet, it is exactly this environment that makes it even more important for good organizations to speak out.

Family Research Council added its voice to the mix last week by submitting comments to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, regarding his upcoming report on how religious minorities are uniquely impacted by situations of conflict and insecurity.

The plight of religious minorities in conflict is an unfortunately timely topic. Just weeks ago, radical Fulani militants killed 10 Christians, including children, and set 100 homes on fire. In its submission, FRC drew particular attention to dangerous preconditions in Nigeria that can endanger religious groups in times of insecurity:

"More than 11,000 Christians have been killed in the Federal Republic of Nigeria since June 2015, and close to 300 churches have been attacked or destroyed since January 2012...

The Nigerian government's inability to properly assess the nature of threats to religious groups is a precondition to violence against Christians and others. Unfortunately, the authorities either do not care about religious violence or lack the resources to properly deal with repeated terrorist attacks against Christians. Either possibility creates a volatile environment which endangers vulnerable Nigerian citizens, particularly those living in rural areas."

Due to Nigeria's status as a democracy, it can often be difficult to draw attention to its human rights situation. However, the Nigerian government's knowing toleration of egregious human rights abuses should not be ignored.

FRC's submission also drew attention to the distinct challenges women from religious minority groups face in situations of insecurity, particularly noting Christian and Hindu women in Pakistan and Uyghur Muslim women in China. Exposing just how tragic the impacts of religious persecution on women can be, FRC highlighted how forced marriage and conversion impacted one Pakistani girl:

"BBC News reported the story of a 12-year-old Christian girl named Farah who was forcefully abducted from her home and was made to convert to Islam and marry her abductor. Regarding her struggle, she stated, "I was chained most of the time and ordered to clean the abductor's home as well as take care of the animals in the yard outside. It was terrible. They'd put chains on my ankles, and tied me with a rope. I tried to cut the rope and get the chains off, but I couldn't manage it. I prayed every night, saying, 'God, please help me.'"

Stories like this bring to life the real-world pain and trauma that statistics alone cannot convey.

"Expert estimates suggest that between 1 and 3 million Uyghur and other ethnic minority Muslims in the Xinjiang region are currently detained in internment camps and subjected to "re-education." Survivors of the camps who managed to escape report instances of torture and abuse. Witness testimonies suggest sexual violence against women in the camps are widespread. Sayragul Sauytbay, an ethnic Kazakh who spent time detained in an internment camp in Xinjiang, said the Chinese camp guards gathered one day and gang raped a female detainee, while other detainees who looked away or expressed sorrow or disgust were punished."

The Chinese government tries to suppress criticism of its human rights violations at the U.N., but few countries are more deserving of such criticism. All the situations mentioned in FRC's submission deserve far more attention and action from the United Nations. It is our hope that these comments offer insight into how international institutions might better serve persecuted groups around the world.

Human rights advocates around the world will tell you just how slow-moving and even frustrating their work can be. Yet, we shouldn't sit on the sidelines merely because the battle is difficult, or even unfair. It's critical that good organizations and individuals that value freedom and human dignity continue to make their voices heard. Our silence will not make anything better.

Click here to read FRC's full submission to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

FRC in the States: Preparing for a Post-Roe World

December 6, 2021

It's a hopeful time for the pro-life movement in the United States. A decision in the monumental Dobbs. v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case is likely to come sometime next summer. Pro-lifers across the country are holding their breaths that the erroneous precedents set in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which falsely invented a constitutional right to abortion,may finally be overturned.

The day after the Dobbs oral arguments, Family Research Council was pleased to host legislators from 39 states for our Pro-Life State Legislative Summit. FRC experts provided their take on the possible outcomes and impact of Dobbs and what state legislators can do to promote pro-life policy in the months and years ahead.

Mary Szoch, FRC's Director of the Center for Human Dignity, hosted and moderated the event. FRC President Tony Perkins opened with prayer, highlighting the significance of the moment and the important role state legislatures have taken in the pro-life movement in the United States:

"The Dobbs case would not have been before the Supreme Court had it not been for a state legislature. This is really a moment where I think we need to pause for just a second and point to how we got here. We got here because of courageous men and women who were willing to go against the cultural tide from a policy standpoint and advocate for the sanctity of human life..."

Katherine Beck Johnson, FRC's Research Fellow for Legal and Policy Studies, spoke about Mississippi's Gestational Age Act, which triggered the Dobbs case. Based on what was heard in the oral arguments, Katherine said that she believes it is "very, very unlikely" that the Court would choose to strike down Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban while leaving current precedent established by Roe and Casey unchanged. She is optimistic that the Court will ultimately overturn Roe and Casey and return the authority to legislate abortion to the states. She urged lawmakers to sponsor and support abortion bans that would apply to as early in pregnancy as politically possible.

Connor Semelsberger, FRC's Director of Federal Affairs for Life and Human Dignity, provided an overview of the ways in which FRC is poised to help state legislators advance pro-life legislation in their respective states. Connor highlighted FRC's state model legislation, including the Total Abortion Ban and the Cease Abortion Subsidies in Healthcare (CASH) Act, as well as legislation to ban or regulate dangerous abortion-inducing drugs. He spoke on the importance of legislation to defund abortions and abortion businesses, even for states that have successfully outlawed abortion, given the federal government's funding of abortion and states' participation in federal programs such as Medicaid. Connor also highlighted FRC's online pro-life maps, an interactive resource that state legislators and constituents can use to see how their state stacks up in the effort to pass pro-life laws.

State legislators showed up in a big way last Thursday and are sure to continue the fight to protect life in America, bringing us closer to the day when every unborn child is afforded the protection they deserve.