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Congressional Panel Recommends the House Hold StemExpress in Contempt

Former Planned Parenthood fetal harvesting partner StemExpress should be held in contempt of Congress, according to Republicans on a panel investigating the fetal harvesting industry.

The House Select Panel on Infant Lives’ vote was based upon a report Republicans say outlines cause to hold StemExpress and its CEO Cate Dyer in contempt for not responding to the Panel’s subpoenas and other requests and demands for information, including accounting records. The recommendation for contempt was successful, 8-0, after the Panel’s six Democrats staged a walk-out.

“Nearly one year ago our Panel was established and given the important task of investigating very disturbing allegations that some abortion clinics and middleman procurement organizations, including StemExpresss, were violating federal law by profiting from the sale of human fetal tissue,” said Panel Chair Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in a statement after the vote. “In order to determine if these entities were in violation of federal law or if the relevant statute needs to be updated, our Panel must review all accounting and banking records.”

The Panel issued requests, then subpoenas, to StemExpress, starting in December 2015. Subpoenas were issued starting in early 2016, according to a timeline provided to the press by the Panel. A final attempt to contact StemExpress’ lawyer was made in early September.

“Nine months is enough time for an entity to produce accounting documents,” said Blackburn. “A subpoena is not a suggestion. It is a lawful order that must be complied with. If StemExpress continues to obstruct, then we will work with House leadership to determine the necessary next steps.”

For its part, StemExpress said in a statement that it has complied with the Panel’s investigation. “StemExpress offered to testify before the Select Panel, but this offer was ignored. Several House and Senate Committees have reviewed our accounting records and closed their investigations. We have provided hundreds of documents to the Select Panel, including accounting records, both voluntarily and in response to subpoenas.”

A spokesperson for StemExpress did not answer The Stream’s follow-up question about whether the company had explicitly provided the accounting information demanded by the Panel. The harvesting company’s former bank, Five Star Bancorp, likewise did not respond to a request for comment.

Press staff for the House Panel did not answer The Stream’s follow-up question about StemExpress’ claim about testifying before the Panel.

StemExpress has been in Republicans’ sights since the Center for Medical Progress’ undercover videos showed the company possibly engaging in illegal harvesting of fetal organs and other body parts. While Planned Parenthood and StemExpress parted ways shortly after the videos were made public, the Panel’s investigations show that StemExpress was providing Planned Parenthood clinics with profit in exchange for fetal parts.

It is the profit that concerns the Panel, since it violates a 1993 federal law authored by former Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman of Massachusetts. However, StemExpress said it could not cooperate with the Panel, claiming it was “gravely concerned about the safety and security risks of identifying StemExpress personnel involved in the procurement of fetal tissue.”

Blackburn and Panel staff say StemExpress’ concerns are unnecessary. “The Panel staff and the Chairman have represented publicly and to StemExpress counsel that the Panel’s policy was to keep the names of lower-level staff and researchers redacted from any public documents or reports. Indeed, the directions to such subpoena recipients provide a methodology to protect the identities of persons in functional positions.”

All of the Panel’s Democrats walked out before yesterday’s vote. In a press release, top Panel Democrat Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said, “Chair Blackburn has manufactured a controversy over information that she does not need,” accusing Blackburn of making a “McCarthyesque threat. …” (For more from the author of “Congressional Panel Recommends the House Hold StemExpress in Contempt” please click HERE)

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Amid Fetal Tissue Investigation, Republicans Seek Legal Action Against StemExpress

Republicans on a special House panel are recommending that StemExpress and its CEO be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over accounting records. The company came under scrutiny after last year’s undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s top abortion provider.

Republicans on the panel, which is investigating the market for tissue from aborted babies, see the accounting records as crucial for the investigation.

“To date, the panel has never received a single accounting record from StemExpress,” Republicans on the Select Investigative Panel said in a new staff report. “No names of key personnel have been provided by [StemExpress CEO] Ms. Dyer so that the panel might conduct interviews, and the cost estimates have been ambiguous and inadequate.”

StemExpress is a for-profit biotechnology company that procures tissue from abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood. StemExpress then transfers that tissue to medical researchers.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, chairman of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, will hold a procedural vote on Wednesday to hold the biotechnology company in contempt of Congress. Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, is aiming to force StemExpress and its CEO Catherine Dyer to comply with congressional subpoenas by using the force of the U.S. Justice Department in order to make the company release its full accounting records.

Before the Justice Department would take action against StemExpress, several more steps would need to occur after Wednesday’s vote. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will also need to hold a procedural vote before it can advance to the full U.S. House of Representatives. It is unclear when Republicans would schedule those votes with the House planning to recess at the end of September or earlier.

The Daily Signal reached out to StemExpress, which claimed it has already complied with congressional records requests.

“StemExpress offered to testify before the select panel, but this offer was ignored,” a spokesman for the company said. “Several House and Senate committees have reviewed our accounting records and closed their investigations. We have provided hundreds of documents to the select panel, including accounting records, both voluntarily and in response to subpoenas. All Americans should be concerned that a congressional panel can use the threat of contempt proceedings to support a narrative that flies in the face of the facts.”

Republicans claim that StemExpress has failed to provide investigators complete copies of accounting records in an attempt to slow walk or stonewall their efforts.

Instead, as they outlined in their latest staff report, StemExpress has provided investigators summary documents of the company’s financial records that “fell far short of actual accounting documents.” Throughout the investigation, StemExpress has maintained that releasing documents with personal information could put individuals at risk.

Questions about whether middleman companies such as StemExpress profit off the sale of fetal tissue were raised in a series of undercover videos produced by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress. The videos featured employees at StemExpress and Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Both companies have denied illegal activity, and Planned Parenthood has since stopped taking reimbursements for fetal tissue donations.

Accounting documents, Republicans say, are needed to determine whether StemExpress profited from the sale of fetal tissue, which the 1993 National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act prohibits. However, it is legal to provide and accept payment to cover reasonable costs for “transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.”

The panel’s ranking member Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, blasted Blackburn and the select panel for attempting to hold StemExpress in criminal contempt of Congress.

“Chair Blackburn has manufactured a controversy over information that she does not need,” Schakowsky said in a press release. “Her threat to punish a small biotechnology company and its owner is particularly outrageous given the company’s compliance with her unilateral subpoena demands. The McCarthyesque threat that StemExpress ‘name names’ of all employees or face congressional contempt is disgraceful.”

Republicans sent StemExpress multiple document requests—including subpoenas—since the panel was established on Oct. 7, 2015. On Sept. 8, 2016, Blackburn “provided one last offer to Stem Express and Ms. Dyer to comply with the subpoenas.”

“Having exhausted its efforts to obtain compliance from the subpoena recipients,” the majority’s staff report reads, “Chairman Blackburn recommends that StemExpress, LLC, and Catherine Spears Dyer be held in contempt for their willful failure to fully comply with the panel’s subpoenas issued to them.” (For more from the author of “Amid Fetal Tissue Investigation, Republicans Seek Legal Action Against StemExpress” please click HERE)

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Study: Graphic Abortion Victim Images Swayed Pro-Abortion Views

Will seeing the dismembered body of an aborted child cause people to oppose abortion? According to a new study in Canada, showing people graphic images of abortion victims convinced some to be more pro-life. And while many claim that the use of what is called “abortion victim photography” makes people react against the pro-life movement, the study found that it had the opposite effect.

Seeing pictures of the unborn victims of abortion was linked to an increase in both the pro-life worldview and pro-life political views, and made many feel more negatively about abortion and thus favor less permissive abortion laws, according to the study. This was true of everyone from those who identified themselves a completely pro-life to those who were completely pro-abortion.

Pro-abortion sentiment dropped by about seven percent, according to the study’s executive report, which also claims that the use of such images is now “scientifically established as an effective tool.”

The study, commissioned by the group Created Equal and analyzed by Jacqueline Harvey, an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, was sponsored by the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform. Both the institute and the center are openly pro-life. Harvey also teaches political science at Tarleton State University in Texas.

A Split Movement

The study was conducted using postcards with graphic images of abortion victims distributed at mailboxes across an entire zip code and before and after phone surveys. “Most of the items were statistically significant,” Harvey told The Stream, explaining that term means that the study “rules out the possibility that the random sample interviewed the second time just ‘happened’ to be more pro-life.”

Harvey noted that the pro-life movement has long been split on whether graphic images of abortion victims sway minds in a positive way. The respondents “indicated that the change they reported was due to the images,”she said, adding that “this confirms that the images were responsible for the change.”

“The graphic images are powerful and effective,” Human Life Review’s Ifeoma Anunkor told The Stream. “I attended the National Sidewalk Counseling Symposium in August. During a training session, a leading sidewalk counselor shared that in order to make the ideal pamphlet for abortion-minded women, she asked the abortion-minded women themselves, what pictures made them change their minds about abortion. The majority of the women said the picture of an aborted fetus.”

Former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson, however, was more critical. “This study does not look at the effectiveness of graphic imagery in front of abortion facilities, which is where I do not support their use,” she explained in an e-mail to The Stream.

In my experience, and the experiences of almost 300 former abortion workers, we find them to be counterproductive in front of abortion facilities. They appear threatening and only present the abortion facility as a safe haven from the protestors outside. The majority of women who have abortions have already had children. They aren’t having an abortion because they think it’s a “mass of cells.” They are having an abortion because they lack resources or support.

Graphic images have been effectively used in other human rights campaigns, such as when fighting to end slavery in the United States. However, some pro-life advocates say showing images to children is inappropriate, and that post-abortive women could face PTSD and other issues when seeing the images.

According to Johnson, “I believe we should obtain consent before ever showing any graphic material. I do not oppose people using graphic imagery in some situations, but only where the person using the images has gained consent to show them.”

Though the debate within the pro-life movement over the wisdom of using such images will continue, the study establishes that they do move people to become more pro-life and less supportive of abortion. Indeed, the study found that people who identified as “liberal” shifted more in favor of life than conservatives. (For more from the author of “Study: Graphic Abortion Victim Images Swayed Pro-Abortion Views” please click HERE)

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US Senator Introduces Bill to Ban Dismemberment Abortions Nationwide

Dismembering a child in the womb is not merely ghastly, it should be punished with potentially crippling financial damages and multiple years in prison, according to one of the nation’s foremost pro-life leaders.

Earlier this month, Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, introduced a nationwide ban on dismemberment abortions (S. 3306).

The proposed law would make it illegal for an abortionist to “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”

Any abortionist found guilty of performing the procedure, commonly known as dilation and evacuation, or dilation and extraction (D&E) abortion, would be subject to fines and up to two years in prison.

The mother, or her parents if she is a minor, could also file a lawsuit in civil court against the abortionist, opening the door to massive fiscal settlements. (Read more from “US Senator Introduces Bill to Ban Dismemberment Abortions Nationwide” HERE)

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Trump Makes YUUUGE Pro-Life Commitment

By Bryan Fischer. Voters who have wondered where Donald Trump stands on the abortion issue need wonder no longer.

Trump today made perhaps the most pronounced pro-life move a presidential nominee has ever made by declaring a specific pro-life platform for his presidency and putting a prominent and unapologetic pro-life leader in charge of his pro-life coalition . . .

Here are [some of] the specific things he pledges to do if elected president:

Nominating pro-life justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would end painful late-term abortions nationwide.

(Read more from “Trump Makes YUUUGE Pro-Life Commitment” HERE)

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Donald Trump Calls for Permanently Banning Taxpayer Funding of Abortions

By Steven Ertelt. Donald Trump today has issued a call to make permanent the Hyde Amendment that bans almost all federal taxpayer funding of abortions and is credited with saving the lives of over 1 million Americans from abortion. Trump-‘s call comes as Hillary Clinton is campaigning in reversing Hyde and forcing Americans to fund free abortions for women with their tax dollars.

Every year, Congress is forced to fight the battle to protect Americans from being forced to pay for abortions with their tax dollars. Democrats annually fight the pro-life budget provision and hope they can eventually reverse it should they take control of both the White House and Congress.

That has led to pro-life groups calling to the adoption of a permanent law putting Hyde in place long-term and making it more difficult for pro-abortion forces to reverse. Today, Trump announced his support for such a law.

The call for banning taxpayer funding of abortions comes in a new letter from Trump. Trump commits to a new policy: “Making the Hyde Amendment permanent law to protect taxpayers from having to pay for abortions.” (Read more from “Donald Trump Calls for Permanently Banning Taxpayer Funding of Abortions” HERE)

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This Senator Wants to Ban Doctors From Dismembering Unborn Babies in the Womb

Sen. James Lankford introduced legislation last week that would ban late-term dismemberment abortion across the country, in efforts to build consensus and find common ground among Americans.

“There are a lot of arguments right now about life and about its role in American society,” Lankford told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday.

“Obviously, not all Americans agree on the issue of life and when life begins and abortion,” the Republican from Oklahoma said. “I have asked the question, ‘Can we at least agree on some basic thing?’”

A dismemberment abortion, one of the methods that can be used in a late-term abortion, should not be used, Lankford told The Daily Signal.

Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., introduced identical legislation in the House last year.

The Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act defines a dismemberment abortion as an abortion that uses “clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments” to “slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off or crush it,” with the purpose of causing death to the unborn child.

When a child is too large to suction, physicians “will actually go in and rip the child’s legs and arms off and pull it apart piece by piece and then will suck out each piece of the child,” Lankford said.

The senator says this is similar to partial-birth abortion where a physician kills the baby partway through delivery. Partial-birth abortions are banned in the United States.

“We have as a nation already said we don’t do partial-birth abortions, where we have this late-term procedure where they deliver the child partially and then kill it while it’s only partially in the womb,” Lankford said.

“We know now that children who are in the womb in late-term can feel pain,” he added. “At least we should agree that in the womb when a child can feel pain, we shouldn’t pull them apart limb by limb.”

A physician that knowingly ends the life of an unborn child through a dismemberment abortion would be subject to fines and imprisonment for up to two years, according to the bill.

A woman on whom an abortion has been performed in violation of the dismemberment ban could seek civil action, including seeking “objectively verifiable money damages for all injuries, psychological and physical, occasioned by the violation” and “statutory damages equal to three times the cost of the abortion.”

“I do pray, not only for those that are yet to be born, but I pray a lot for moms that have had an abortion and the grief that they experience based on that after the fact,” Lankford said. “I pray for those that actually perform abortions that they will at some point awaken to what’s happening right in front of them.”

The legislation’s ban excludes dismemberment abortions that are performed “to save the life of a mother whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself.”

Six states—Kansas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana—have taken similar action to ban dismemberment abortion.

Clearly this is an effort to take some of the tactics of the past—using very graphic descriptions and inflammatory language—to ban access to abortion,” Elizabeth Nash, the states issue manager at the Guttmacher Institute, told ThinkProgress in January 2015 in response to states introducing similar legislation on dismemberment abortion.

The Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act does not limit abortions that are performed by a method other than dismemberment.

In the House, the legislation was referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice in October 2015. Twenty-four representatives currently co-sponsor the bill. Lankford introduced his identical bill Thursday in the Senate. The legislation was referred to the Judiciary Committee.

“Surely we can all agree that dismantling a child in the womb during a late-term abortion is inhumane and is not reflective of American values,” Lankford said in a prepared statement Thursday. (For more from the author of “This Senator Wants to Ban Doctors From Dismembering Unborn Babies in the Womb” please click HERE)

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Dangerously Daft New Study Calls Ohio Abortion Pill Restrictions Dangerous

The mainstream media is warning us in anxious tones that an “Ohio abortion pill law led to worse health outcomes.” Allow me to briefly describe the new law and show why the case against the law is at best weak, and at worst, dangerously confused.

The drugs mifepristone and misoprostol are sometimes injected into pregnant women to kill the lives inside their wombs. The procedure is called a “medical” or “medication abortion” to distinguish it from other methods of killing the unborn, usually involving sharp objects or vacuums.

In 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a version of the mifepristone + misoprostol method of killing. This version requires medium doses of both drugs to be given at an abortionist’s office on different days. To ease demands on their time, some abortionists instead prefer another, “off-label” combination of these drugs, one not approved by the FDA: a high dose of mifepristone at the office and a low dose of misoprostol self-administered at the would-be mothers’ homes.

The distinction is important because Ohio in February 2011 passed a law requiring abortionists to use only the FDA-approved method. The law was passed in dispute. Some abortionists complained that the work of killing was better using the off-label method.

Apples, Oranges and the Unborn

A group of researchers led by Ushma D. Upadhyay tried to investigate the questions, studying pre-law and post-law abortion data. They published their attempt in “Comparison of Outcomes before and after Ohio’s Law Mandating Use of the FDA-Approved Protocol for Medication Abortion: A Retrospective Cohort Study” in the journal PLOS: Medicine.

The researchers found four abortion sites willing to cooperate with their research. The immediate finding was that the fraction of medication abortions dropped dramatically at all four of the abortion sites after the law passed. The average rate was 22% of all abortions were medication before the law, which dropped to only 5% some time after. One site even discontinued medication abortions for a period of almost two years.

The researchers do not say if the medication abortions that were performed post-law were all the FDA-approved method or if any were the now illegal off-label method. This is not surprising, because admitting to use of the off-label method would be admitting violating the law. Given that the sympathies of the abortionists and the researchers was not with the law, it is possible biases creep in, both in the analyses and in way treatments themselves are administered. Confirmation bias is ever a possibility.

That sort of bias might account for why the researchers did not trouble to report what fraction of FDA-approved medication abortions were performed before the law. All? None? We never learn. And it is a crucial number to know if we are to compare pre-law with post-law adverse events, especially if it is to be asserted that the FDA-approved method causes greater harm to the would-be mothers (both methods, of course, cause ultimate harm to the lives inside their wombs).

Further muddying matters, many of the characteristics of the women given medication abortions changed pre- to post-law. For instance, pre-law only about 15% of would-be mothers had at least a Bachelor’s degree, compared to over 23% post-law. Blacks represented 21% of the pre-law sample but only 16% of the post-law sample. Importantly, only about 27% of the women had private insurance pre-law, jumping to 34% post-law. Better educated women with insurance might be more willing to be checked for adverse effects, which would boost reported rates.

Number of Gestation Days Before Killing

The oddest discrepancy was in the number of gestation days, i.e. number of days the women were pregnant before seeking an abortion. In the pre-law sample, 13.4% of women had medication abortions at 34 gestation days or fewer, contrasted with only 7.2% post-law. Also, 52.2% of women pre-law had abortions between 42 and 49 days, versus 63.6% after. These figures are notable because it has been found that the greater the gestation period before the lives inside the women are killed, the greater the likelihood of an adverse effect upon the women.

Before the law, medication abortions were legal for gestations greater than 49 days. In the new law, all medication abortions had to be performed before 50 days. So the greater number of post-law abortions in the 42-49 day period could be accounted for by women who might have rushed in before the new deadline. But this doesn’t explain why fewer women opted for earlier abortions. Whatever the reasons, the changes imply that the characteristics of the women, or the practice of abortionists, changed after the law.

And there was another questionable maneuver by the researchers. All pre-law medication abortions greater than 49 gestation days were excluded from the researchers’ analysis. Of the rate of adverse events in this important and risky group we therefore never learn. This exclusion really makes it impossible to compare health effects pre- to post-law, as do the other points made above. Nevertheless, the researchers soldiered on.

Medication Abortion: Dangerous Medicine

About those adverse events: these included “acute hemorrhage, or infection.” Nasty business, abortion.

As the authors emphasize, but fail to realize the importance of, post-law women were required under the law to go to the abortion site “a minimum of four visits instead of two,” and so there was greater opportunity post-law to report or discover adverse events (in addition to the other reasons noted above).

Now 4.9% of the pre-law women required “additional interventions,” which were things like aspiration (vacuuming up the remains inside the womb), repeated misoprostol doses, and blood transfusions. These interventions rose to 14.3% post-law. Some 12.6% of pre-law women had “at least one side effect during their medication abortion” compared to 15.6% after. Side effects included nausea, vomiting, pain and so on. These numbers comprise the authors’ main “findings.”

Yet even if it were true, as the authors suggest, that the FDA-approved method is causing the boost in rates of interventions and side effects, the number of women who suffer ill effects caused by medication abortion could still shrink. Why? Because even though the rates of ill effects increase, the number of medication abortions procured fell sharply under the law.

The calculation that could prove this is tough to do because we don’t know about the adverse rates for women with gestations greater than 49 days pre-law (a shocking omission) — nor do we know them for other abortion methods. Plus, for the many reasons given above, we do not know that the FDA-approved method is causing the boost in rates for medication abortions, even though the researchers are anxious to suggest that it is.

Perhaps most interesting is the finding (admission?) that such large percentages of women undergoing medication abortions will require “interventions” or will suffer an adverse effect. That is news worth spreading. (For more from the author of “Dangerously Daft New Study Calls Ohio Abortion Pill Restrictions Dangerous” please click HERE)

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Why a Nurse and a Pastor Object to Being Forced to Help Abort Babies

A pastor and a nurse want Congress to pass legislation that would allow Americans the freedom to opt out of the abortion process.

Chris Lewis, lead pastor of Foothill Church in Glendora, California, says his congregation doesn’t want to be coerced into covering abortions on employee health insurance plans.

But that is exactly what the state of California is doing, Lewis told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

Lewis said it is “shocking” that the state Department of Managed Health Care would force his 1,000-member church, against its deeply held religious convictions, to cover abortion in the health plans of roughly 100 employees.

“We’re stuck in this horrible place,” Lewis told The Daily Signal. “We’re essentially being coerced by the state to violate our conscience.”

“We don’t want to have to cover [abortion],” he said.

Lewis spoke on Capitol Hill at a House forum in July on conscience rights, urging Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act.

Among about eight others who spoke was a nurse of 26 years, Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya.

“I became a nurse to help people, but not to do harm,” Vinoya said.

In 2014, the state of California issued an order requiring all health insurance plans to cover abortion, without a religious exemption.

Lewis said he and his congregation believe life begins at conception, and covering abortions on employee health plans violates the church’s core tenets.

“I can’t believe that we as a church, with this fundamentally, deeply held conviction of ours, can be put in a position to violate our conscience like this,” Lewis said. “We felt like we were over a barrel.” He added:

On the one hand, we’re required to offer coverage under Obamacare. We want to provide that for our employees. … We want to care for them. We want to care for their families. At the same time, we’re being told … to have coverage of the termination of all pregnancies, regardless [whether it is] elective or otherwise.

“I’m really troubled by the idea that the state can just say it doesn’t matter, that your religious freedoms don’t matter to us,” Lewis said.

The House of Representatives passed the Conscience Protection Act, introduced by Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., by a vote of 245-182 the week after the forum where Lewis and Vinoya spoke.

The legislation would prohibit the federal government and state or local governments that receive federal health dollars from penalizing or discriminating against health care providers for refusing to “perform, refer for, pay for, or otherwise participate in abortion.”

The legislation is the House’s amended version of an originally unrelated Senate bill sponsored by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. The Senate now must vote on the amended bill.

President Barack Obama is expected to veto the measure should it win final passage in his final five months in office.

The Obama administration “strongly opposes” the legislation, according to a statement from the Executive Office of the President.

“This bill would unduly limit women’s health care choices by allowing a broadly defined set of health providers (including secular sponsors of employer-based health coverage) to decline to provide abortion coverage based on any objections,” the statement says.

Donna Crane, vice president of policy at NARAL Pro-Choice America, described the Conscience Protection Act as legislation that “lets even more people get in between you and the health care you choose.”

Vinoya, the veteran nurse, told The Daily Signal that she doesn’t want to be forced to participate in abortions.

About five years ago, Vinoya was part of a group of 12 pro-life nurses who sued the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey over a hospital rule that would force all nurses to assist in abortions.

“No one actually knew what to do because the management was saying to us that we were going to lose our job or … be transferred to another unit [for not cooperating],” Vinoya said.

It was a “horrible feeling” for everybody, she said.

The university’s hospital in Newark said at the time that it was not directly forcing nurses to participate in any abortions.

In her remarks July 8 during the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Forum on Protecting Conscience Rights, Vinoya said:

Participating in the destruction of human life is not only a violation of my religious convictions as a Christian, it also conflicts with my calling as a medical professional to protect life, not to end it.

After a court hearing in 2011, the New Jersey hospital agreed not to force the pro-life nurses to assist in abortions.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal aid group, represents Lewis and his church as well as Vinoya and the other pro-life nurses.

“I think that the [Conscience Protection Act] should be passed for professionals like me who are not fortunate enough to have people … who have selflessly helped us get through this ordeal and saved us our jobs,” Vinoya told The Daily Signal.

Lewis said he wants to stand up for the rights of unborn children.

“The most voiceless people in the culture are the unborn,” Lewis said. “We want to be a part of not further propagating abortions and allowing that to happen, but actually trying to see [abortions] reduced [and] restricted.” (For more from the author of “Why a Nurse and a Pastor Object to Being Forced to Help Abort Babies” please click HERE)

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It’s Not Just the Unborn Who Are ‘Voiceless’ in the Fight for Life

A majority of America’s pulpits may be silent on the issue of abortion, but a new movie seeks to change that through a harrowing and inspiring story of forgiveness, courage, and hope. “Voiceless,” an upcoming film from American Hero Movie, LLC. and C3 Studios, tells the story of a man whose bold stance for unborn life nearly costs him not only his job, his freedom, his life, but also the respect and support of his church and his family.

Jesse Dean, superbly portrayed by Rusty Joiner, fits the familiar archetype of a recently discharged combat veteran shouldering the physical and psychological scars of his time overseas. His newfound faith in God drives him to move to work at New Life Fellowship, an old Philadelphia church whose membership is declining.

While Jesse’s focus is initially focused on a boxing ministry outreach geared towards the neighborhood youth, his routine doesn’t last long after he notices the women coming in and out of an abortion clinic located right across the street.

After a distressed woman who comes to him for help decides to abort her child, Jesse sets out to turn his pro-life beliefs into action through sidewalk counseling and local activism. But, long after being discharged, Jesse finds himself trapped in a two-front war on the streets of Philadelphia.

From the outset, Jesse’s struggle is not unknown to those in the pro-life movement or anyone who has ever taken the time to pray silently outside a clinic. Local government cronyism, media slander, and vitriolic insults wear Jesse down as expected. The emotional pain — resulting from rejection and the knowledge that this rejection means a loss of innocent life — contributes to Jesse’s depression: He becomes disheveled, dejected, and slightly erratic by the middle of the film. But what really wears on our hero is a near-complete lack of support, timid silence, and round criticisms by his fellow Christians, specifically his wife, Julia, and his congregation.

Throughout the film, these voices manifest in near constant streams of criticism and concern about what Jesse’s pro-life activities could mean for the church’s image.

This pressure takes the form of pastors and church elders asking him, “Do you know what this sort of thing does to a church?” The sentiment is echoed by fellow members who persistently argue that the church’s focus should stay out of “political” battles and instead focus on more PR-friendly forms of ministry like feeding the hungry.

“You mean with signs?!” asks one member when Jesse brings up the issue of addressing the clinic as a church. “We shouldn’t get political,” says another. “We should be saving souls, not pushing them away,” says yet another church member.

It is in these scenes that the film’s title takes on a second meaning: Not only are the children who are being killed across the street voiceless, but so also are the members of New Life Fellowship.

Art Imitates Real Life, Unfortunately

But the timid, silent leadership of Jesse’s church is more than a phenomenon of fiction. Recent polling suggests that it represents a real and troubling majority of congregations in cities, suburbs, and parishes across the United States.

A recent Pew Poll found that only 29 percent of more than 4,000 adults interviewed said they recently heard about the topic of abortion from the pulpit. Even more despairing for the cause of the preborn is the fact that of the two groups who heard the most — white Evangelicals and Catholics — only 36 percent claimed to have heard the subject touched upon. Furthermore, in an America, where a black child is five times more likely to be killed in the womb than a white child, black Protestant churches have fallen especially silent on the issue of abortion. The study finds that only 16 percent of respondents said that their pastor had openly discussed or preached on the issue.

If Christians aren’t even hearing about this from the pulpit, how can any but the most dedicated ever be expected to take action?

But the film also shows how this sort of “comfortable” public witness is the kind that leaves the body of Christ spiritually starved. The missional poverty of this kind of “comfort” Christianity is the kind of beige thinking satisfied with easy ministry but unwilling to stand against grave injustices like the taking of unborn life.

“I’ve been to enough pot luck dinners,” Miss Elsie, a founding member of the church but who has stopped coming, says to Jessie. Ultimately, however, what brings Miss Elsie back into the fold is not the comfort of self-congratulation but the courage and action required for the beauty of life to prevail against a culture of death.

Yes, “Voiceless” is definitely a film by pro-lifers for pro-lifers, but in this case that’s a good and necessary thing. Unlike other pro-life movies like “Bella” or “October Baby,” this film does not spend too much of its time on pro-life apologetics. Rather, it speaks to an audience, which may see the truth of the life argument and holds up a harsh mirror to those who dare not profess that belief in any meaningful, public way.

This is the sort of message that is meant to remind churches how to seek justice truly in the public square: to drive out timidity from the corners of our hearts and the comfort of our pews, to be courageous, and to defend the defenseless.

After all, “In the end,” reads the famous quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (For more from the author of “It’s Not Just the Unborn Who Are ‘Voiceless’ in the Fight for Life” please click HERE)

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Complaint-Ridden Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood Botches Abortion, Kills Young Black Mother

A Battle Creek, Michigan woman died after receiving an abortion from the Planned Parenthood office in Kalamazoo on June 30, 2016, LifeNews reported. Cree Erwin, 24, died three days following the abortion and just hours after leaving an emergency room for abortion-related complications.

According to LifeNews, abortionist Laura Denise Castleman prescribed pain medication for Erwin, although it’s not clear if she performed Erwin’s abortion. Michigan law requires medical providers to maintain a valid drug control license if they routinely dispense medication. Castleman’s license expired months before Erwin’s abortion.

Castleman has been linked to at least three other abortion-related injuries in Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor. Operation Rescue, a pro-life group that “monitors abortion practitioners and exposes their illegal and unethical practices,” has filed a complaint against Planned Parenthood’s Kalamazoo location demanding that their operating license be revoked.

Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Vice President of Operation Rescue said the Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood is a danger to women and must be closed for their protection. “If Cree Erwin had not visited the Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood for an abortion, she would be alive today … the Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood is not safe and must be shut down to protect other women from ending up on a slab in the morgue.”

Catherine Davis, Founding Core Member for the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, said her group must sound the alarm about the women and infants killed, as well as women harmed reproductively, by Planned Parenthood. “The number of women leaving a Planned Parenthood in an ambulance amid allegations of harvesting baby body parts reminds us of two things: Planned Parenthood’s population control mission and their unfettered greed,” Davis said. “Both must be stopped in their tracks before one more vibrant young woman loses her life.”

The Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood operated without a valid facility license from September 2012 to January 2016, said Lynn Mills of Pro-Life Detroit. “Planned Parenthood of Kalamazoo, under the leadership of Lori Carpentier, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, has a history of not functioning within basic medical standards and flying under the radar with the apparent cooperation of the State of Michigan,” she told LifeNews, “I’m calling for Carpentier to first make a public apology to the family of Cree Erwin, and then to step down from her position. Immediately!”

A homicide investigation into Erwin’s death is still underway pending the release of the autopsy report. (For more from the author of “Complaint-Ridden Kalamazoo Planned Parenthood Botches Abortion, Kills Young Black Mother” please click HERE)

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