Article  Life  Sanctity of Life

6 pro-life priorities for the president and Congress in 2017

This January, a new president and a new Congress will be sworn in. Both President Trump and the Republican-majority House and Senate have pledged to enact legislation to defend the unborn. This provides us with an opportunity to work with and persuade our new Congress and a new president to protect the unborn.

We work for protections, in law, for the unborn, because we believe every person is created in the image of God and has dignity and worth. So we are encouraging our elected officials to highlight these six pro-life priorities:

1. Codify the Hyde Amendment

The Hyde Amendment was originally introduced in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade as a bipartisan way to protect the consciences of Americans, who were then – as they are now – deeply divided on the question of whether abortion should be legal in the United States. The amendment prevents federal funds – taxpayer dollars – from being spent on abortion. The Hyde Amendment is a recognition that millions of Americans strongly object to allowing their taxes to be spent on what they believe to be the taking of a life.

But Democrats are now seeking to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, paving the way for some of the billions of federal dollars spent on healthcare to be used for abortion. Those of us who were paying attention when the truth was revealed about Planned Parenthood’s business model surely won’t be surprised by this. As long as Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers remain closely connected to Democratic leadership, we can expect efforts to expand the bottom line for Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry to continue.

As a byproduct of the way the Hyde Amendment was originally passed, the protective measure must be passed each year by every successive Congress. It is time, once and for all, for the consciences of millions of Americans to be protected by the force of permanent statute: federal funds should not be used for abortions.

2. Appoint a pro-life replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia

The surprise passing of one of the Supreme Court’s great conservative heroes sent shockwaves through the pro-life community. But the task of replacing Justice Scalia’s role goes much further than simply finding a jurist who is pro-life. Justice Scalia was an intellectual giant, forging a path for constitutional originalism into the mainstream of legal philosophy.

And indeed, President Trump must do more than simply appoint another pro-life vote to the Court; his task is to maintain the intellectual balance of power on the issue. Justice Scalia’s influence on the American judicial system will be felt for decades. We should hope that his replacement would accomplish the same during his or her tenure on the Court.

3. Repeal the HHS Mandate

Few policy objectives can be achieved with the stroke of a pen, but the repeal of the HHS Mandate is one of these, and it should be done on the first day of President Trump’s administration.

We have written extensively on the Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate (also called the contraceptive mandate), and ERLC has advocated repeatedly before the courts in defense of religious liberty. The heart of the issue is a mandate imposed by the Obama Administration that all employers provide access to all forms of contraception, including those forms that can have abortive effects.

But because the HHS Mandate was created by an administrative rule and not statute, the process to reverse it can begin immediately after President Trump takes office. We urge President Trump to do so on his first day in the White House.       

4. Eliminate all funding for Planned Parenthood from the federal budget

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R–Tenn.) currently chairs the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which is investigating Planned Parenthood’s business practices and trafficking of baby parts for research purposes. We look forward to working with and supporting this investigation as it continues.

But in addition, we will work with Congress to use the next available budget measure to defund Planned Parenthood. We were supportive of the defund effort that was vetoed by President Obama, and we will continue to work to support this effort in the coming Congress.

5. Pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act protects children in the womb who are capable of feeling pain from abortion. There is substantial evidence based on developmental structures and hormone release patterns, that by 20 weeks after fertilization, unborn children are capable of feeling pain. Indeed, fetal anesthesia is routinely used when performing in utero surgery on unborn children.

The bill would impose a ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks – the time when fetuses are capable of feeling pain. We will work with both chambers of Congress to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

6. Pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was passed by the house and introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ben Sasse (R–NE) during the last congressional session. The bill died in the Senate without a vote.

The bill would have amended the federal criminal code to require that all health care providers give the same standard of care to babies born alive after surviving an abortion attempt as they would give a baby born prematurely. Health care providers who violated this standard of care and were found guilty would have been subject to up to five years in prison.

We will work with the new Congress to pass this bill through the House and the Senate over the next two years.

Advancing a pro-life vision for the future

We encourage faithful Christians to use their voice help influence their Congressmen and Senators to support this legislation. But this is not the only way we display our pro-life convictions. Whether through support of adoption, participation in the foster care system, or providing counseling to expectant and new mothers through pregnancy resource centers, pro-life advocates need to not only communicate the truth of the God-given dignity of humanity, but live it out in our local communities.

If you’re interested in joining this movement of standing for the dignity of all human life, please join us in Washington, D.C., January 26-28, 2017, for the Evangelicals for Life conference.

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