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10 Things to Ask Your Member of Congress During the Congressional Recess

by FRC Action

February 24, 2017

Congress has adjourned for President’s Day week, and Congressmen and Senators are traveling throughout their Districts and states hosting town halls and public forums. Asking questions at these events is a great way for you to help your elected representatives understand issues of concern for you and your family. For town hall schedules, call or visit the website of your Senators and Congressman (click here if you don’t know who your members of Congress are). Use this issue guide to raise topics related to the sanctity of life, marriage, family, and religious freedom.


To Ask Your Congressman and Senators:

 

  1. Do you support repealing Obamacare and defunding Planned Parenthood as Congress did in 2015 only to have President Obama veto it?
  2. Will you commit to oppose abortion funding or subsidies for health insurance in any Republican plan to replace Obamacare? The House just passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act to make the Hyde Amendment ban on funding and subsidizing insurance with abortion coverage permanent and government wide. These principles should be applied to any new GOP plan to replace Obamacare in the coming weeks.
  3. Will you support efforts to stop the onerous abuse of the “Johnson Amendment” by supporting the Free Speech Fairness Act sponsored by Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.)? This legislation ensures pastors and non-profits can engage in speech about political candidates so long as they do so during their normal non-profit activities and spend no more than a minimal amount on the candidate-related speech. It prevents liberal activist organizations and the IRS from threatening pastors and churches for speaking up on political issues.
  4. Will you support legislation to stop government discrimination against people who still believe that marriage is between one man and one woman? While the Supreme Court overturned the natural definition of marriage adopted into law by over 30 states, many people still respectfully believe marriage is between one man and one woman and should not be punished by the government for acting in accordance with that belief.
  5. Will you support passage of the “Conscience Protection Act” sponsored by Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) to ensure the federal government does not discriminate against pro-life health care entities who object to being forced to participate in abortion?
  6. Will you support a vote on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which bars abortion on 5-month-old unborn babies when they begin to experience severe pain? This bill is sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and has previously passed the House twice.
  7. Will you oppose the so-called “Equality Act” which would force special protections for homosexual and transsexual lifestyles in 25 areas of federal law—with no religious liberty protections for people of faith who disagree with these lifestyles and same-sex marriage?
  8. Will you support the Born Alive Survivor’s Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ark.) and Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebr.), that requires doctors to provide the same care for infants born alive after an abortion that is otherwise provided to born alive infants? 

To Ask Just Your Senators:

  1. Will you support a vote on the recently House-passed “Disapproval Resolution” to block the Obama administration’s Title X regulation issued last December which punishes states that redirect family planning funds from Planned Parenthood to more holistic community health centers?
  2. With the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy of Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, will you vote to approve him since he will defend the original meaning of the Constitution and overturn Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges that forced abortion and same-sex marriage on all 50 states?

What Americans Want In Their Next Supreme Court Justice

by FRC Action

January 31, 2017

President Trump has set January 31 as the date of announcing his Supreme Court pick to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. In 2016 Election exit polling, 2 in 10 voters (21 percent) said that appointments to the Supreme Court was the most important issue to them. These voters broke for Trump 56-41 percent. Exit polling also revealed that 7 in 10 voters nationwide say Supreme Court appointments were either the most important factor or an important factor in their decision to support a candidate.

This is a critical appointment by President Trump as he seeks to solidify the trust the American people have placed in him and provide leadership that will preserve their values, freedoms, and rights of conscience.

A recent poll conducted by the The Marist Poll revealed that 8 in 10 Americans (80 percent) say it is an “immediate priority” or an “important” one to appoint Supreme Court Justices that will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written. Fifty-three percent of Independents, 80 percent of Republicans and more than 4 in 10 Democrats (42 percent) also say it is an “immediate priority.” Almost 9 in 10 Americans (89 percent) also see protecting religious freedom as a priority, including 57 percent who describe it as an “immediate priority” and 32 percent who consider it an “important” one.

The American people clearly have overwhelming support for a Supreme Court Justice who will uphold the original intent of the constitution and protect religious freedom.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently vowed that he and his party will do everything they can to block a conservative Supreme Court nominee by the Trump administration—saying  he is prepared to fight “tooth and nail” should Trump not choose a “mainstream” nominee.

In reality, Schumer’s statement is extremely out of touch with “mainstream” America.

What he fails to recognize is that the mainstream does not support his views. The GOP has control of the White House, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures for a reason.  The fact is that one of the Republican Party’s most conservative platforms ever was adopted in 2016 and was accepted by the majority of America. Post-election polling showed that a majority of registered voters said the social issues in the Republican platform impacted their vote (51 percent), and 59 percent of Trump voters said that this impacted their presidential vote, compared to just 48 percent of Clinton supporters.

The American people have clearly spoken, and unfortunately for the Left, it was not in their favor. Voters went to the polls and chose a more conservative president to pick a conservative originalist Justice to the bench. 

In the 5-4 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, the High Court inserted itself into a significant moral debate and attempted to redefine the meaning of marriage for every American. In Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a 5-3 bench decision, the Court ruled that placing Texas abortion clinics in the same safety category as any other out-patient surgical clinic is too burdensome. This would have simply required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility in case there is an emergency or complications. Do we need to be reminded of Gosnell?

These are just a couple of the many rulings that have made the Supreme Court a top concern for American voters. President Trump’s promise to nominate a Justice in the mold of the late Justice Scalia was a breath of fresh air to an American public that is increasingly concerned about judicial activism and how it is impacting the moral fabric of the country. While there is little doubt that Sen. Schumer will do everything he can to stop a conservative, originalist Justice, his views do not represent the mainstream views of the American people. The nation is eager for a Justice who will not legislate from the bench but instead respect the Constitution and interpret it as our Founders intended.

Pro-Life Bills You Should Know About in 2017

by FRC Action

January 26, 2017

As we approach the March for Life tomorrow, we have an unprecedented opportunity before us to advance the culture of life with a unified pro-life House, Senate, and president. Here are some bills you should know about for 2017 that will defend the innocent and protect the consciences of the American people. This year, like never before, let your representatives know of your support for these crucial measures that will save lives.

1. S.184/H.R.7 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would permanently codify the Hyde Amendment and apply it across all federal government programs, preventing federal funds from paying for elective abortion and health care plans that include elective abortion coverage. This bill (H.R.7) passed the House on January 24, 2017, and its Senate companion bill (S.184) is currently pending a vote in the Senate.

2. H.R.37/S.220 - Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act

This bill requires health care practitioners to treat babies born alive after failed abortion attempts with the same care they would provide to a baby born at the same gestational age. Additionally, it includes penalties for the intentional killing of infants born alive. The bill also gives the mother of a child born alive a private right of action to seek relief in case an abortionist were to kill her born-alive infant.

3. H.R.36 - Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

This bill will ban abortions after 20 weeks’ post-fertilization, the point at which science tells us a child can feel excruciating pain.

4. Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act (pending introduction)

With this budget reconciliation bill, a special legislative vehicle that can pass the Senate with just 51 votes, pro-lifers can see Obamacare gutted, stopping subsidies for health care plans that cover abortion and see over $400 million rescinded in annual mandatory spending that currently funds Planned Parenthood. These taxpayer dollars would then be reallocated to other federally-qualified health centers that do not provide abortion. This bill passed the House and Senate in 2016, but unfortunately former President Obama vetoed it. President Trump has indicated that he would sign this legislation.

5. Dismemberment Abortion Ban Act (pending introduction)

This bill would ban dismemberment abortions in which unborn children are brutally torn apart limb from limb (also known as dilation and evacuation abortion).

6. Conscience Protection Act (pending introduction)

This bill would stop discrimination against pro-lifer Americans, by the government and entities it funds, who object to being forced to participate in abortion (such as doctors). This bill would codify abortion conscience laws like the Weldon Amendment that have to be re-added to annual spending bills, and the bill would give pro-life victims of discrimination the right to sue in court.

The Top 20 Actions for the Trump Administration in the First 100 Days

by FRC Action

January 19, 2017

Each presidential administration has the opportunity to impact everyday Americans in significant ways by issuing executive orders, agency regulations, and administrative guidance through memoranda, letters, and other internal documents issued by the agencies and departments of the Executive Branch.

In the last eight years, the Obama administration enacted a great number of Executive Orders and agency actions that Many of these were extra-legal or illegal and it is critical that this lawlessness be undone.

Here are the top 20 ways that the Trump administration can address values issues in the first 100 days through administrative and agency actions in order to repair some of the damage that the Obama administration has inflicted on the dignity of life, natural marriage, and religious liberty and put our nation on the right track.

Action #1 — Restore The Mexico City Policy

The Obama administration rescinded the Mexico City Policy, which was first implemented by President Reagan, to prevent taxpayer dollars from funding international organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas. Millions of taxpayer dollars have funded abortion providers like International Planned Parenthood. One way to address the problem of funding abortion providers overseas is to rescind Obama’s Memorandum on the Mexico City Policy, issued January 23, 2009, and to restore President George W. Bush’s Memorandum Restoring the Mexico City Policy, issued on March 29, 2001.

Action #2 — Defund UNFPA

The Obama administration restored funding to the United Nations Population Fund which funds coercive abortion practices overseas, especially in China. Funding such entities violates current law prohibiting U.S. funds from involvement in coercive abortion practices. One way to fix this problem is to restore President George W. Bush’s State Department restriction on UNFPA funding first issued on July 24, 2002, and continued through fiscal year 2008.

Action #3 — Establish Transparency Regarding Obamacare’s Abortion Coverage

Americans should be informed about whether their Obamacare plans cover abortion or not, especially since even the abortion funding schemes in Obamacare require such notice and a “separate” payment for abortion in such plans. However, the Obama administration implemented rules issued on February 27, 2015 allowing insurers to hide the abortion surcharge in plans that cover abortion, and which are subsidized by federal premium credits. Moreover, the ACA requires multistate plans to provide one pro-life plan in each state. However, rules issued on February 24, 2015 implementing this requirement do not require pro-life plans until next year.

Another example of lawlessness is the Obama administration’s rule on October 2, 2013 which allowed federal employee subsidies for health plans with abortion coverage for Members of Congress and their staff, despite current law forbidding such subsidies.

Action #4 — Withdraw Title X Planned Parenthood Funding

The Obama administration proposed a rule on September 7, 2016 to block states from defunding Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from Title X. This problematic rule would harm states that have chosen to prioritize family planning funds for health clinics and community health centers that seamlessly offer a full range of healthcare services including family planning, but do not participate in abortion. This problem could be fixed by simply withdrawing the proposed Title X regulation.

Action #5 — Defund Human-Animal Chimera Research

The Obama administration proposed a new NIH policy, issued on August 5, 2016, that would allow for NIH to fund human-animal chimera research. The proposed scope of funding would include research which attempts to give an animal (a chimp, pig, mouse, etc.) a substantially human brain or the ability to produce human sperm or egg cells, which can affect heredity. This serious violation of bioethics and common human decency could be fixed by simply withdrawing the proposed chimera funding policy.

Action #6 — Defund Embryonic Stem Cell Research

The Obama administration issued an executive order on March 9, 2009 that allowed funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research by narrowing the enforcement of the Dickey-Wicker amendment in federal law which prevents funding for research that harms or destroys human embryos. The administration rescinded human embryo protections in federal research put in place by President Bush, and implemented its embryo-destructive research policies on July 30,

2009 in NIH’s “Guidelines for Human Stem Cell Research.” One way to address the Obama administration’s approval of embryo-destructive research funding is to restore President George W. Bush’s June 20, 2007 executive order protecting human embryos in federally funded research and by redirecting funding for ethical stem cell and regenerative research proving effective in the treatment of patients for numerous diseases.

Action #7 — Reform Federally Funded IVF Regulations

On April 3, 2012, the Obama administration’s DOD began funding IVF treatments for active military personnel but without sufficient protections for human embryos created in the process.

The FY17 Military, Constructions, Veterans Affairs appropriations law expanded this allowance to include veterans, and while it cross-referenced the Dickey-Wicker amendment which protects against funding embryo destruction under the Health and Human Services Department, it did not explicitly prevent against embryo destruction. One way to address the embryo protection issue in IVF treatments is to direct DOD and VA to only fund IVF fertility treatments in which human embryos are not knowingly destroyed, discarded, donated to research, or otherwise harmed prior to embryo transfer.

Action #8 — Establish Ethical Tissue Research

The Obama administration’s DOJ has refused to investigate potential violations of federal fetal tissue laws and federal medical privacy laws by abortion providers and tissue procurement companies. A way to address this issue is for DOJ to investigate potential violations of the law revealed in shocking undercover videos and in the work of the House Energy and Commerce’s Select Panel on Infant Lives by abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and by human tissue procurement companies like Stem Express for: (a) selling fetal tissue for profit; (b) changing abortion methods without consent for tissue procurement; (c) violating HIPPA privacy protections for women in their obtaining and selling of fetal tissue; (d) procuring fraudulent IRB certifications; and (e) potentially killing born-alive babies for the purpose of organ harvesting.

Another way to address this issue is to direct HHS/NIH to implement a moratorium on fetal tissue research in which the tissue was derived from aborted fetuses, while ethical alternatives are explored. In this regard, the administration should revise the “Policy and Procedures for Obtaining Human Fetal Tissue for Research Purposes in the Intramural Research Program at NIH,” which was issued on December 15, 2015, but last updated October 7, 2016, and should restore President George H.W. Bush’s May 19, 1992 rules establishing a fetal tissue bank obtained from ethical sources like ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages.

Action #9 — Nullify The HHS Contraception Mandate

The Obama administration’s HHS contraceptive mandate that requires all employers to offer no-cost contraceptive drugs and devices is a troubling threat to conscience, especially since it involves coverage of some pills and procedures which can destroy human embryos. While the Supreme Court upheld the right of businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, Inc. from the regulation, the Obama administration issued a regulation with an accounting gimmick for the non-profit “religious organizations” on July 2, 2013. This problem could be fixed by ending all litigation enforcing the HHS contraception mandate, issuing broad conscience exemptions from mandates requiring coverage of any health services or items that violate the beliefs of a religious organization, and revising the HRSAWomen’s Preventive Services Guidelines” to exclude the provision of drugs or devices which can destroy human embryos.

Action #10 — Restore Healthcare Conscience Protections

Among our first freedoms, enshrined in the First Amendment, is the right to freedom of religion and of conscience. The Obama administration has often undermined religious freedom by refusing to enforce conscience protections in existing federal law to address violations in California, New York, and other states. On June 21, 2016, HHS issued a letter which narrowly reinterpreted the Weldon Amendment to exclude instances in which, for instance, California churches are being forced by the state to cover elective abortion in their health care plans. On February 23, 2011, the Obama administration also issued regulations that repealed the Bush rules enforcing federal conscience protection laws. One way to address these conscience issues is by rescinding the 2016 HHS letter regarding the Weldon Amendment. Another action which could be taken is restoring President George Bush’s December 19, 2008 regulation, “Ensuring That Department of Health and Human Services Funds Do Not Support Coercive or Discriminatory Policies or Practices in Violation of Federal Law.”

Action #11 — Rescind Hospital Requirements Regarding Treatment of People Identifying as Transgender

On June 16, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed a rule under the auspices of promoting innovation, flexibility, and improvement in patient care, but which is expected to require federally regulated health care entities to violate their conscience. The rule will force hospitals and other providers to implement policies to provide medical services related to gender identity or sexual orientation.

Action #12 — Rescind Obama’s Title IX Bathroom Guidance

The Obama administration’s Department of Education issued guidance to redefine sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity for schools, which is currently being litigated. This guidance would force schools to allow boys into the shower rooms and bathrooms with girls and vice versa. It is possible for the new administration to rescind the May 13, 2016, “Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students” and the May 2016 “Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students,” and to rescind parts of the April 29, 2014 “Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence” and parts of the April 2015 “Title IX Resource Guide.”

Action #13 — Take Down the Title IX Waiver List

In accordance with the Obama administration’s hostility toward religion, and in response to requests from the Human Rights Campaign, the Department of Education issued a black list of religious institutions of higher education that requested waivers from Title IX requirements, as well as, in some cases, their applications and the Department’s responses. This list, linked from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights “Religious Exemption” page, should not be subject to public search and should be taken down.

Action #14 — Rescind Regulations Redefining Sex to Include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The Obama administration also issued regulations redefining sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity for multiple agencies. These redefinitions have far-reaching implications for homeless shelters that received funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, renters of facilities managed by the General Services Administration, medical care providers, and private employers.

For example, the Department of Health and Human Services issued the May 18, 2016, “Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities,” that defined “on the basis of sex” in Section 1557 of the Obamacare law to include “termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom” and “gender identity.” The rule states that it is discriminatory for a covered entity to deny or limit coverage “or impose additional cost sharing or other limitations or restrictions on coverage, for any health services that are ordinarily or exclusively available to individuals of one sex, to a transgender individual.” It also prohibits covered entities from categorically excluding gender transitions from coverage, and from denying or limiting coverage or imposing additional costs for specific health services related to gender transition if such denial, limitation, or restriction results in discrimination against a transgender individual.

Similarly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a resource guide addressing sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, in June of 2015, which prohibits private employers from taking sexual orientation and gender identity into consideration in the hiring and termination of employees. All of these regulations should be rescinded.

Action #15 — Address Regulations Regarding Military Service of People Identifying as Transgender

The Obama administration decided to change the long-standing regulatory policy excluding persons who identify as transgender to serve in the military. In conjunction with that decision, the Department of Defense issued a number of regulations that undermine troop readiness, recruitment, and retention. Examples of regulations that should be addressed include the June 30, 2016 “In-Service Transition for Transgender Service Members,” the July 29, 2016 “Guidance for Treatment of Gender Dysphoria for Active and Reserve Component Service Members,” and the September 30, 2016 handbook on transgender service in the U.S. Military.

Action #16 — Defend the Freedom to Believe in Natural Marriage

The administration should issue an executive order protecting federal employees and contractors from discrimination by the executive branch on the basis of their view that marriage is between a man and a woman. In the wake of the Obergefell ruling redefining “marriage,” agency actions have put pressure on those who continue to support the stance President Obama had prior to 2013 that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Action #17 — Rescind Common Core Requirements

The administration should rescind, in part, the letter regarding ESEA Flexibility, issued September 22, 2011, that allows for states to receive an exemption from key standards of No Child Left Behind. The letter added ambiguous requirements for states to receive a waiver, and used this waiver authority to allow the Department of Education to pressure states over educational standards related to curricula, such as with Common Core.

Action #18 — Strengthen DOD Religious Freedom Protection

The Obama administration issued regulations (AFI 1-1, SECNAVINST 1730.8B, and AR 600- 20) that limited the standards articulated in Section 532 and 533 of the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act to protect expressions of belief reflecting conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs. The strict scrutiny standard of religious liberty protection concerning the least restrictive means as articulated in DOD Instruction 1300.17 should also be included in the Air Force directive. In addition, this directive should require the Air Force to remove Section 2.12 from AFI 1-1.

The new Congress and administration should also pressure the service chiefs to promulgate messages reaffirming the robust religious freedom and free speech rights of chaplains. These messages should include the articulation of such protections in Section 533 of the FY2013 and Section 532 of the FY2014 NDAA, and should note chaplains’ speech is not limited in the same manner that other government employee speech may be limited.

Action #19 — Adhere to the International Religious Freedom Act

The Obama administration was woefully resistant to protecting religious freedom in its foreign policy stance, and was late to describe the persecution of certain religious minorities as genocide. The new administration and Congress should promote religious freedoms throughout the federal government engaged in overseas activities by calling attention to the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-292, as amended by Public Law 106-55, Public Law 106-113, Public Law 107-228, Public Law 108-332, Public Law 108-458, Public Law 112-75, Public Law 113-271, and Public Law 114-71), and ensuring these laws are followed.

Action #20 — Increase American Influence on Religious Freedom Abuses Abroad

The new administration and Congress should seriously consider maintaining a list of prisoners persecuted abroad on account of their faith, and also identify foreign officials responsible for religious freedom abuses (and where appropriate, publish their names in the Federal Register). In addition, the government should compile a list of opportunities to condition visa grants and other actions based on their support of religious freedom.

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10 Things to Ask Your Member of Congress During the Congressional Recess
by FRC Action (Feb. 24, 2017)

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