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Obama’s Last-Minute Abortion Extortion Is on the Congressional Chopping Block

The U.S. House of Representatives sent a loud and resounding rebuke this week to a last-minute Obama abortion rule that forced states to fund Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

H.J. Res. 43, a congressional resolution “[p]roviding for congressional disapproval” of a rule dealing with funding of abortion providers under Title X passed in the lower chamber by a vote of 229-188. It would overturn an 11th-hour Obama rule that created a major roadblock for GOP promises to strip Planned Parenthood of taxpayer dollars.

The lame-duck policy issued in mid-December equated to a “parting gift” to the abortion industry and “was in keeping with his Administration’s actions over the last eight years,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

“Planned Parenthood which, according to their latest annual report, performed 323,999 abortions in a single year, does not need or deserve taxpayer dollars,” Dannenfelser added. “Obama’s legacy of forcing Americans to finance the abortion industry is being steadily dismantled by our new pro-life President and the pro-life Congress.”

Under the pro-abortion extortion policy, every state receiving Title X funding is subject to losing those monies if their legislatures dared redirect public funds away from abortion clinics in any form or fashion.

“It’s scandalous for taxpayers to fund a private organization that performs a procedure regarded as murder by half the country.” wrote Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz of the rule in December.

“Even those who call themselves ‘pro-choice’ should at least respect the moral issues involved to the point that the taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund it … To now take this immorality a step further and block individual states from cutting off state funding is beneath contempt.”

According to recent statistics, Planned Parenthood shows that it and its affiliates receive over half a billion taxpayer dollars annually, while providing over 300,000 abortions and spending tens of millions on pro-abortion political causes.

Meanwhile, public funding of abortion at the federal level remains up in the air, as the Republican Congress — elected on an extremely pro-life platform — gears up for a budget fight. Despite the promises, congressional conservatives are concerned that it might not happen anytime soon.

“We’re also hearing that the defund Planned Parenthood language may not stay in” the upcoming budget bill, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio (A, 96%) recently told CNN. A congressional aide also told the outlet that, as legislators work out the details of the spending package, such language “would be one of the first things to go.” (For more from the author of “Obama’s Last-Minute Abortion Extortion Is on the Congressional Chopping Block” please click HERE)

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Like Oil and Water: Ashton Kutcher’s Open Borders Stance and Anti-Human Trafficking Work Just Don’t Mix

Ashton Kutcher has been widely commended for his humanitarian efforts to protect children around the world from sexual exploitation and abuse. He’s also received praise for his open-borders advocacy. The problem is, these two causes are at war with each other.

Kutcher delivered an impassioned speech on combatting the global problem of child sex trafficking. Wednesday at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting. The actor and activist called on leaders to join him in tirelessly defending every child’s “right to pursue happiness.”

Kutcher’s testimony came weeks after he delivered a similarly passionate speech at the annual Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, voicing his disapproval of President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned travel from seven Islamic-majority countries deemed a “security risk.”

“Hello to everyone watching at home and in airports that belong in my America,” he said before presenting the first SAG Award. “You are part of the fabric of who we are, and we love you and welcome you.”

Kutcher should be commended for his work to combat child sex trafficking; it is always right and just to look out for society’s most vulnerable. But unfortunately, his views on immigration directly contradict this effort.

Consider all of the people — women and children especially — who have suffered abuse as a result of lazy vetting. Think of all the “rapefugee” incidents in Europe. The Gatestone Institute has worked tirelessly to document and draw attention to the crisis that has affected the entire continent.

If you care about the vulnerable, you care about vetting out jihadists and rapists. You care about national security.

Sex trafficking is, as of now, a bipartisan issue. Experiencing life as a sex slave is one of the most tragic and regrettable situations imaginable. If only liberals could see how their blind, idealized view of all refugees and immigrants harms the very groups they wish to protect. (For more from the author of “Like Oil and Water: Ashton Kutcher’s Open Borders Stance and Anti-Human Trafficking Work Just Don’t Mix” please click HERE)

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Washington Supreme Court Rejects Religious Liberty for Florist, Puts Her Assets at Risk

The Washington State Supreme Court today unanimously upheld a judgment against a florist who declined to create a floral arrangement for a same-sex marriage. She had previously provided the gay couple flowers for other occasions, but told them she couldn’t supply flowers for their “wedding,” because same-sex marriage was incompatible with her Christian beliefs.

The court held that the government can force individuals to provide artistic works and participate in events they disagree with. The nine justices claimed that Barronelle Stutzman violated anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. The court found her personally accountable, meaning the state can seize her home, personal property, savings and bank accounts to pay any damages fines or attorneys fees awarded against her.

The Court Says: No Violation of Her Rights

A Southern Baptist, Stutzman lives in Richland, one of the most conservative areas in Washington state. She has been in the florist business for 30 years, having started out delivering flowers in her mother’s business. She now owns Arlene’s Flowers.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and the gay couple sued her in 2013. Ferguson has been making a name for himself aggressively pursuing a liberal activist agenda as attorney general, with aspirations for higher office.

In 2016, Benton County Superior Court Judge Alexander Ekstrom fined Stutzman and awarded attorney’s fees against her. Stutzman appealed the lower court’s decision to the state’s highest court.

The Washington State Supreme Court found forcing her to provide flowers for a gay wedding did not violate her constitutional rights. She provided services for people of other religions, the judges argued, and had no grounds for refusing service to anyone else. “As Stutzman acknowledged at deposition, providing flowers for a wedding between Muslims would not necessarily constitute an endorsement of Islam, nor would providing flowers for an atheist couple endorse atheism,” the opinion said.

However, Stutzman was not objecting on the grounds that her services would constitute an endorsement of another religion. She was objecting on the grounds that doing that would condone and aid something against her religion, thus violating her freedom of religion.

She also objected on the grounds of free speech, not just freedom of religion. The court rejected her claim that its interpretation of Washington’s anti-discrimination law violates her right free speech.

A Case About Crushing Dissent

Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom which is representing Stutzman, denounced the decision. “This case is about crushing dissent. In a free America, people with differing beliefs must have room to coexist,” she said. The ADF issued a press release explaining how the activist ACLU operates to force through these types of cases.

I will mention that the ACLU raised $24 million in a single weekend recently. And this is what is does with its treasure: file suit against a humble grandmother who was literally minding her own business on the day when she referred a long time customer (who she served dozens of times fully aware that he is gay) to nearby florists who would be willing to celebrate same-sex weddings. While ADF is providing, as we do for all of our clients, free legal representation, the ACLU can and will come after her for legal fees that may top out north of a million dollars.

The organization said the decision marked “a decisive blow against fundamental freedoms: freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.”

ADF intends to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court declined to hear a similar case in 2014 involving a photographer who refused to service a same-sex wedding.

A page has been set up to help Stutzman. An effort is being made to encourage President Trump to sign an executive order protecting religious freedom. Others are talking about raising funds for her.

Stutzman says this isn’t about herself, but about the bigger picture of protecting the Constitution. She warned in an op-ed in The Spokesman-Review (in Spokane), “Does anyone really believe that a government that gives itself the power to force people to believe (and not believe) things and can order artists to create state-sanctioned messages will only use that power to bend one small-town florist to its will — and then leave everyone else alone?” (For more from the author of “Washington Supreme Court Rejects Religious Liberty for Florist, Puts Her Assets at Risk” please click HERE)

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Proponents of ‘Diversity’ Tried to Force My Religious Group off Campus

Recent news about U.S. colleges has not been flattering. We’ve seen a tidal wave of stories from campus protests and violent riots, to sexual assault and purported millennial “safe spaces.”

But obscured by the attention-grabbing headlines is the reality that many students are actively engaged in campus communities that foster cultural and intellectual diversity, encourage innovative thinking, and create opportunities for enriching and helping others in their campus communities and around the world.

I know, because that’s part of my story.

As a student at Missouri State University, I was first a member, then a leader, of Chi Alpha—a student Christian organization devoted to supporting students of faith and promoting campus diversity and community service.

As one of the most engaged students on campus, the best part of my college experience was seeing the huge variety of student groups—faith-based or otherwise—working, sometimes together and sometimes independently, to promote and act on shared values that were important to each groups’ members.

More than any class assignment, the interaction with students and interest groups allowed me to see that all groups on campus, even those with diametrically opposing viewpoints, can flourish under the same university banner.

Yet politicians and campus administrators in some states are trying to push certain groups off campus for daring to be distinct. Religious groups that require their student leaders (not general members) to actually believe and uphold the groups’ beliefs and mission are being accused of bigotry and kicked off campus.

In a puzzling irony, this aggressive ideology only sacrifices true campus diversity and academic freedom in the name of ambiguous and subjective political correctness.

My participation and leadership in Chi Alpha showed me the true value of campus diversity. While Chi Alpha is religious in nature, I interacted and became friends with students who chose to be a part of Chi Alpha for a safe and uplifting social environment.

Some joined Chi Alpha to participate in our shared ethos of community service and humanitarian efforts, like our partnership with feedONE, feeding starving children worldwide. Other students valued our work promoting campus diversity.

I personally led multiple service trips, like taking Chi Alpha students to work with the homeless in Milwaukee, the widowed and orphaned on a New Mexico Navajo reservation, and neglected elementary school children in Kenya.

For all of us, our shared Christian faith fostered a commitment to each other and to caring for others no matter who they are or where they come from.

Schools Are Squelching, Not Empowering, Student Choice

Whether motivated by faith or not, all students should be free to join their own groups to express shared values. But faith-based groups are especially being targeted. Two recent examples come to mind.

Just last year at Southeast Missouri State University, virtually every religious student group on campus was discriminated against because the groups required their leaders to share their faith (to essentially practice what they preach) while other campus groups like fraternities and sororities were allowed to continue selecting both leaders and members based on the groups’ mission or purpose.

Only after months of lobbying (and months of academic distractions) were religious students at the university able to regain equality with the other campus groups.

And two years ago, my fellow Chi Alpha student leader, Bianca Travis, had her entire Chi Alpha chapter a California State University campus.

Despite 40 years of service within the Cal State community, including assisting the school with international students, helping campus police hand out free water during major student activities, and fundraising to address issues like human trafficking, Travis and her friends were singled out, denied the ability to function equally alongside other student organizations, and literally locked out of their meeting space.

All this because they required their leaders (again, not their students) to uphold the group’s mission and purpose.

These are just two examples. Similar problems are going on in Florida, Indiana, Maine, New York, and Washington. All across the country, religious organizations are being scrutinized and investigated for a leadership philosophy that almost all groups with student leaders share.

The only difference is that the religious nature of these groups make it easier for misinformed, misguided administrators to yell “foul play.”

Let Students Freely Engage

A true commitment to academic freedom, diversity, and intellectual engagement (objectives that all colleges and universities say they desire) requires giving students and groups the ability to operate freely as they add value to their campuses by sharing their unique perspectives—religious or secular.

The world is a complex place. Forcing certain groups off campus and thus shielding students from ideas in college won’t help students adequately prepare for the increasingly diverse world ahead of them.

All student groups—even those who require their leaders to uphold their mission to adequately function—must have an equal place at the table.

True academic freedom and diversity cannot exist otherwise. (For more from the author of “Proponents of ‘Diversity’ Tried to Force My Religious Group off Campus” please click HERE)

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Liberals Love to Celebrate Motherhood — When It’s Glamorous

Fans everywhere raved about Beyoncé’s performance at the Grammy Awards Sunday night.

Just weeks ago, the singer had announced via Instagram that she is expecting twins with her husband Jay Z. Her first performance since the announcement was an obvious celebration of motherhood. She dressed as Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility, her golden gown highlighting a sizable baby bump. Over the space of two songs, she honored her own mother Tina Knowles and her five-year-old daughter Blue Ivy.

Even though British singer Adele ultimately bested Beyoncé for album of the year, the Lemonade artist’s performance dominated the evening buzz.

Celebrities and Media Praise Pregnant Beyoncé

The Hollywood Reporter compiled a list of breathless Tweets from the famous:

Media outlets like USA Today and Mic praised Beyoncé’s performance. The New York Times called it a “jaw-dropping, multimedia homage to motherhood.” The Associated Press acknowledged the star’s celebration of “her femininity and motherhood,” saying she “invoked images of both a goddess and the Virgin Mary.” The Washington Post called the performance “an ode to womanhood.”

The “Single Ladies” singer even garnered praise from some pro-choice organizations, including the Women’s March, which unceremoniously shunned pro-life groups that applied to participate in last month’s historic march in Washington, D.C. NARAL, the organization dedicated to protecting and expanding “reproductive freedom for all,” shared Mic’s praise of Beyoncé’s “ode to black motherhood.”

The Sad Hypocrisy

Don’t get me wrong — Beyoncé definitely deserves kudos for pulling off yet another compelling performance, complete with complex multimedia choreography, dance moves and even chair stunts — all while visibly carrying twins.

It’s sad, however, that so many of the people, organizations and even media outlets gushing over Beyoncé and her pregnancy are so quick to defend abortion.

In fact, the reaction to Beyoncé’s performance underscores the very hypocrisy that plagues pro-choice advocates. When babies are wanted — like when they belong to cultural idol Queen Bey — those babies are adored. Fans can’t wait to see what she will name them. They’re eager to speculate whether the twins will be boys, girls, or one of each. They aren’t talking about Beyoncé’s “fetuses,” as several pro-life outlets have already pointed out. No, these are Beyoncé’s babies.

But what about babies who aren’t wanted? Who prove a hardship? Or when the circumstances of their conception are painful or unplanned? When that happens, the same people currently elated over Beyoncé’s pregnancy will march in the streets demanding unlimited access to abortion. All of a sudden, to equate pregnancy with womanhood is offensive. Saying “babies” instead of “fetuses” is backward. And anyone who dares to suggest that all unborn life should be protected is silenced.

When You’re Beyoncé

This hypocritical message from the Leftist elite is incredibly harmful to women — especially the everyday, underprivileged, and often minority women they profess to care so much about.

When you’re Beyoncé, motherhood is glamorous. You can post photos of your growing belly on Instagram and garner over 10 million likes. You can dress up as a golden, glowing goddess of fertility and perform for millions on live TV. You can slip into a sparkling red gown after a team of professionals has freshened up your pregnant body and still have paparazzi rave about how “smoking hot” you are. And when you’re Beyoncé, you have all the resources, support, care and advice that money and adoration can buy.

I’m not undermining anything about Beyoncé’s motherhood. I’m just being honest. When you’re Beyoncé, it’s easier.

Most women aren’t Beyoncé. Many who get pregnant are underprivileged, with little money, no one to offer loving advice, and no partner to share the load of raising another human.

For those women, motherhood is not as glamorous as it is for Beyoncé. But it’s every bit as meaningful. The Left must not see that though, because its organizations such as Planned Parenthood target those women with zealous sales pitches for abortion.

Those mothers and their unborn babies need all the love, care and assistance the rest of us can offer — not the tragic “way out” so often advocated by wealthy coastal elites.

If we as a culture reserve our celebration of motherhood for the rich and famous, then we’re sending a dishonest and harmful message to millions of everyday women and girls. Normal motherhood isn’t glittery, glamorous, or Insta-famous. But it’s every bit as good, valuable and worth it.

It’s nice to see celebrities so supportive of Beyoncé and her unborn children. If only they supported everyday expectant mothers with the same enthusiasm. (For more from “Liberals Love to Celebrate Motherhood — When It’s Glamorous” please click HERE)

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Burlington Is the Latest Retailer to Drop Ivanka Trump’s Brand Online

The discount retailer Burlington Coat Factory no longer sells products from Ivanka Trump’s brand online.

As of Friday, the retailer’s website doesn’t show a stock of Ivanka Trump accessories and clothing. The change comes amid news of several retailers dropping the first daughter’s line in the last two weeks, including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Gilt.

Burlington was selling 13 items from Ivanka’s fashion line as of Tuesday, according to Shannon Coulter, the brand strategist who started the #GrabYourWallet boycott of Trump products.

Since October, Coulter has charted which retailers do business with the Trump family on the Grab Your Wallet website. People who oppose President Donald Trump’s actions and policies were encouraged to boycott these retailers.

Some retailers have said sales of Ivanka Trump products slumped. Sales of Ivanka’s line at Nordstrom fell 32% in 2016, with the worst decline in the second half of the year as the election heated up, The Wall Street Journal reported. (Read more from “Burlington Is the Latest Retailer to Drop Ivanka Trump’s Brand Online” HERE)

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On Valentine’s Day, Remember: The World Gets Love Half-Wrong

Valentine’s Day makes people think about love. What is it? How do I know it’s real? Can it last? Should it last? Here are a few secular definitions of love:

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved — novelist Kurt Vonnegut

What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is — French erotic writer Anaïs Nin

Love is like a fever which comes and goes quite independently of the will — French novelist Stendhal

Love is a fog that burns [away] with the first daylight of reality. — Hip poet Charles Bukowski

So, the world says, love is loving who you’re with, accepting others, fickle, fleeting and unrealistic. That’s not all wrong, but even when it’s true, it’s not the whole truth.

What is Love, Actually?

I’d like to propose a new definition of love. Well, it really isn’t a new definition at all — it’s thousands of years old! Those of us who are Christians are familiar with the Author of love, whose love is perfect and embraces us daily. John defines love, through the example of Christ, like this:

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren — 1 John 3:16

Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends — John 15:13

Deuteronomy 7:9 gives us an another example of God’s love:

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations [my emphasis]

Love, as God defines it, is steadfast — enduring — to a thousand generations! God’s love has nothing to do with fickle or fleeting emotions. It is true, long-lasting and unconditional. Love is selfless, self-giving — even to the point of laying down our lives for another.

I’m not advocating throwing our lives away, but I am saying — and I believe God is saying — that we must live in such a way that others see Christ in us. His love was sacrificial — He chose to lay down His life for us.

On a Day Like Valentine’s Day

Jesus died on the cross to atone for our wrongdoing, then he rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. That is the ultimate meaning of love: sacrificial, enduring and unconditional love poured out for others and to further our Kingdom purpose.

So when we think about a day like Valentine’s Day, let’s remember the definition of true love. It’s not flighty, fickle emotion, but a life that represents and reflects Christ through selfless giving toward others — a love that changes lives and lasts for all time. (For more from the author of “On Valentine’s Day, Remember: The World Gets Love Half-Wrong” please click HERE)

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When It Comes to the School Bathroom Debate, Trump Is Delivering on His Promises

At the Grammy Awards Sunday night transgender actor and activist Laverne Cox took the opportunity while introducing Lady Gaga to tell America “Google Gavin Grimm” and “Hashtag I Stand With Gavin.”

Who is Gavin Grimm? That would be the Grimm of Grimm v. Gloucester, a case headed to the Supreme Court in March involving one southern Virginia school district’s refusal to accept Obama’s broad new transgender directives to public schools.

Obama’s administration claimed Title IX’s ban on sex discrimination means Gavin (a girl who identifies as a boy) gets to use the boys’ bathroom. This is the case I flagged in a previous Stream column as an important early marker of the new Trump administration’s willingness to roll back Obama’s lawless legacy that threatens not only the privacy of girls, but the rights of traditional religious schools and charities to refuse to hire gay married teachers or workers.

Trump Leaves Bathroom Debates to the Schools, as Promised

Trump’s acceptance of Obama’s executive order banning discrimination based on gender identity raised real concerns, especially as Trump never promised to push substantive religious liberty protections that conflict with LGBT protections.

Well, Jeff Sessions wasn’t installed as attorney general for more than 24 hours before taking steps to deliver on a key promise Trump did make: to leave the transgender bathroom issue to local schools to handle.

The case is Texas (et al) v. the United States. A federal judge had granted a nationwide injunction preventing the federal government from reinterpreting Title IX’s sex discrimination ban to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Obama administration then asked the judge to narrow his injunction to only the dozen or so states who were parties to the suit. Oral arguments were scheduled for Valentine’s Day. But the Justice department just withdrew that request to narrow the injunction, mooting that part of the case; the oral arguments are cancelled.

The federal judge’s nationwide injunction stands for now as the Justice Department considers next steps. (Complicating the decision: The defendants in this case are not only the Justice Department, and the Education Department, both of which are under the direct control of the Trump administration, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which is now dominated by Obama appointees. The Trump administration could withdraw, leaving the EEOC as the lone defendant.)

Will Trump Withdraw Obama’s Absurd Guidance?

Both this case and Grimm v. Gloucester rest in part on the legality of the May 13, 2016 guidance letter the Obama administration sent to every public school in America warning them they may risk losing federal funds if they do not permit students who identify as transgender to use the bathroom and shower of their choice.

The Justice Department is not a direct party to this case, but the Obama administration did file an amicus brief supporting Grimm’s argument that a transgender person has a right to use the showers and bathrooms of his or her choice. Among the most absurd of many absurd arguments? The Obama administration claimed including gender “converts” under sex discrimination is like protecting religious converts against religious discrimination.

Look for the Trump administration to withdraw that brief, and write a new one defending the actual meaning of the law as passed in 1972, which clearly did not include broad new LGBT protections.

The next step is for the new Education secretary Betsy Devos to withdraw Obama’s guidelines on Title IX pronto.

Meanwhile on Day 2 of Jeff Session’s tenure as attorney general the verdict has to be: Trump delivered. (For more from the author of “When It Comes to the School Bathroom Debate, Trump Is Delivering on His Promises” please click HERE)

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She’s Taking What She Learned on Capitol Hill to a National Pro-Life Group

Autumn Christensen has spent over a decade on Capitol Hill working to advance the pro-life cause, something that has been important to her since she was a girl.

“I grew up in a pro-life family,” Christensen says in an interview with The Daily Signal. “My grandfather prayed outside of abortion clinics in the ’70s.”

“I remember going with my parents and my younger brother to maternity centers at the holidays, volunteering and spending time with women who were experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. So [it’s] sort of in my nature that it’s one of the most important issues.”

Now Christensen’s work in the movement has brought her to a new position as director of policy at the Susan B. Anthony List, or SBA List, a conservative, pro-life policy organization based in Washington. The job means advancing pro-life policies in cooperation with the White House as well as Congress.

Tommy Binion, director of policy outreach for The Heritage Foundation, says Christensen’s new role is a great gain for the pro-life movement.

“Autumn is the definition of a servant leader both on Capitol Hill and within the pro-life movement,” Binion says, adding:

She combines an unmistakable passion for the lives of unborn children with a shrewd understanding of the law and the legislative process … Her years of service will pay dividends as pro-life majorities in the House and Senate work together with a pro-life president for the first time in a long time.

Christensen, 38, was born Autumn Fredericks in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. She graduated in 2001 from Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where she majored in business and history.

She moved to the Hill in 2002 as a staff assistant for Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Fla. She worked on pro-life issues for Weldon, who left office in 2009, and attended weekly staff meetings for the Values Action Team, an organization of pro-family lawmakers founded in the ’90s by Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa.

That involvement introduced her to the organization she would work for next—the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, a coalition of pro-life lawmakers. The caucus is bipartisan but keeps its membership confidential.

She started work as caucus director in October 2005. Her predecessor, John Cusey, had urged her to apply as he prepared to leave for a job in the executive branch. It was “an easy yes,” she says, because she respected the work of the caucus and its chairman, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.

‘An Opportunity to Educate’

“When I first started with the caucus, we had Republican control across the board,” Christensen says. “President [George W.] Bush was in office. Then the Congress changed dramatically to Democratic control, and then President [Barack] Obama’s election and … during the Obama years we were certainly at the height of trying to prevent funding for abortion; we were concerned about the Hyde Amendment being eliminated.”

The Hyde Amendment is a provision, established in 1976 by the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., that prohibits use of federal funds for most elective abortions or related health coverage.

Patience is one of the most important virtues for pro-life work, Christensen says.

“We were really in a very on-defense role,” she says. “And then we had the Republican Congress come in [in 2011] and we had opportunities to start moving pro-life legislation. … It always takes time to enact incremental progress toward reversing the effects of Roe v. Wade.”

Roe v. Wade is the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion across the nation.

As director of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, Christensen helped craft bills that would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion and prohibit abortion of babies who are capable of feeling pain.

“They’re not law yet, but the first step is to get them moving through the Congress and have [lawmakers] first take votes on them,” she says. “They’re an opportunity to educate the public about the dangers of abortion [and] what abortion really is.”

Pushing Forward

Her faith informs her perspective, she says, but science influenced her pro-life beliefs.

“I’m an evangelical Christian and that has a big impact on my life and worldview,” Christensen says. “However, my conviction that the unborn are deserving of the same human rights afforded to the rest of us is rooted in biology. ”

Christensen’s husband, David, is vice president of government affairs at the Family Research Council, a conservative public policy organization in Washington, D.C. The couple, who met while working for Weldon, now have a 2-year-old son.

Christensen, who joined SBA List on Jan. 3, is familiar with the struggles that come with advancing the pro-life cause.

She recalls the challenges leading to the 2003 passage and enactment of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which prohibits the aborting of a baby after it is partially delivered.

“I was in high school and college [in the mid-1990s] when the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act was moving through the House and the Senate, and it was veto after veto from President [Bill] Clinton,” she says. “But even as an average American out there, I knew about partial-birth [abortion] and it was a topic of conversation with friends who had pro-choice views.”

Bills she worked on for the caucus face a similar path, Christensen says.

“You know, we have to continue to push forward and we have to get across that 60-vote hurdle, and we have to get them to a pro-life president’s desk,” she says, adding: “It takes a lot of patience, but each step along the way is both an opportunity to move things forward legislatively and also to educate the public about abortion.”

The Senate requires 60 votes to end debate and bring legislation to the floor for a final vote.

‘Made Such a Difference’

Marilyn Musgrave, a former member of Congress who represented Colorado’s 4th District and now is vice president of government affairs for the Susan B. Anthony List, said the organization is excited that Christensen is part of the team.

“Autumn has been one of the most knowledgeable people on the Hill in regards to … issues we care about,” Musgrave tells The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “She made such a difference on the Hill. We are fortunate to have her on board.”

Christensen says she is optimistic about the future of the pro-life movement, especially due to the large involvement of young people in events such as the March for Life, a yearly rally held in Washington to protest the legalization of abortion.

“We know that Americans are becoming more [pro-life],” Christensen says, pointing in particular to younger Americans “looking at those ultrasound images of their brothers and sisters and their cousins and children and family members.”

“I think that the more we see, the more we know, and the more likely we are to grow into a country that cherishes life and wants to protect all unborn lives,” she says. (For more from the author of “She’s Taking What She Learned on Capitol Hill to a National Pro-Life Group” please click HERE)

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5 Smart Reasons to Abolish the Department of Education

At the very moment of Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as secretary of Education, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky. (A, 94%) pointedly introduced a bill calling for the elimination of the Department of Education.

This has been a long-held goal of conservative Republicans, and now that they control all three branches of government, there may never be a better opportunity to finally end the thing. One of the few policy areas in which President Trump has been consistent is his support for school choice and scorn for federal education policy.

Speaking on Fox News Sunday in 2015, Trump said, “I may cut the Department of Education,” and in his book “Crippled America,” released the same year, he wrote “A lot of people believe the Department of Education should just be eliminated. Get rid of it. If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach. Education has to be run locally.” So there is opportunity if only Republicans in Congress are brave enough to seize it.

To help push them in the right direction, here are five reasons why the Department of Education should be eliminated.

1. It’s unconstitutional

The word “education” never occurs in the U.S. Constitution. Already, this should mean that the federal government has no business interfering with education policy, since the Constitution is a list of enumerated powers. In other words, the Constitution is a comprehensive list of things the federal government is allowed to do, and anything not included is de facto forbidden.

To make this doubly clear, the 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights is explicit: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” There you have it. The power to set education policy is reserved to the states or the people. The federal government is not authorized to meddle.

2. It’s expensive

The Department of Education comprises more than 80 subagencies, employs more than 4,000 people, and has an annual budget of nearly $70 billion. When you include other federal spending like Head Start and the School Lunch Program, that number swells to more than $100 billion.

With a national debt rapidly hurtling toward $20 trillion, this may be a drop in the bucket, but as a wise man once said, a few billion here and there eventually adds up to real money. It’s insane to think we couldn’t find better, more productive uses for $100 billion a year. Just off the top of my head, how about giving it back to the taxpayers?

Of course, maybe the federal government could justify this expense if it produced positive results.

Unfortunately …

3. It doesn’t work

The Department of Education has been around since 1979, and in that time, with the huge amounts of money that have poured into it, a reasonable person would expect to see massive improvements in educational performance.

In fact, we’ve seen no such thing. The more money we spend, the less students benefit. The department itself recently admitted that education spending isn’t producing any measurable results — a finding, which conforms with previous analyses of programs like Head Start and the department in general.

It may seem like an obvious question, but why are we continuing a program which has proven, time and time again, not to work?

4. It hinders school choice and student freedom

Perhaps the most infamous of Department of Education initiatives was Common Core, foisted upon the states through a complex system of incentives and penalties with the goal of imposing standardization of testing and, to a certain extent, curricula across the whole country.

These wildly unpopular standards have been the source of outrage and confusion among parents and students alike, who found the math problems impossible, the history textbooks revisionist, and the constant testing oppressive.

But Common Core is far from the only soul-crushing program leveled at local schools from on high. The Department of Education also brought us the spectacular failures of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Head Start, and most recently the Every Student Succeeds Act.

All of these share the goal of making schools everywhere the same, in spite of the fact that different states, different cities, and different children have diverse education requirements that cannot be met by a single top-down structure.

Like every other market, the market for education thrives only when innovation, competition, and experimentation are allowed to flourish. The Department of Education has devoted itself to stamping out all of that.

5. It’s really, really creepy

Like so many other pseudoscientific pursuits, the Department of Education has been moving increasingly toward data collection and analysis in what it claims is an effort to improve student performance. Barack Obama’s Education secretary, Arne Duncan, made the following statement about his ambitions:

Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career.

It may come as a surprise to education bureaucrats, but many parents are not comfortable with their children being “tracked” by the federal government. In many cases, parents have no idea what type of data is being collected on their children, and it is not easy to find out even if you are aware of the practice and want to know.

Nor are we just talking about test scores. A surprisingly candid 2013 report from the Department of Education provides a wish list of data collection, including the desire to monitor students’ facial expressions and eye movements during class, and then using the data to diagnosis learning disabilities or other problems.

In fact, schools may already be doing this; they are notoriously tight-lipped about data collection. The idea that a computer algorithm might diagnose one’s child with mental illness because he made the wrong expression in class is chilling, and we can be sure that it’s only the beginning of where the department would like to go in the future.

Bearing all these points in mind, it’s baffling that the government continues to fund and defend the Department of Education, which, by its own admission, has not improved student outcomes yet interferes with the freedoms of America’s children on a daily basis. The time is now. Abolish the Department of Education once and for all. (For more from the author of “5 Smart Reasons to Abolish the Department of Education” please click HERE)

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