Pro-Life News: ObamaCare, Abortion, New Brunswick, Minnesota, Russia

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 19, 2010   |   6:51PM   |   Washington, DC

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, announced this past week that it filed an amicus brief supporting a Michigan challenge to ObamaCare.

It urges a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling and declare the individual mandate provision – which forces Americans to purchase health care insurance – unconstitutional.

The brief comes just days after a federal district court in Virginia declared the individual mandate unconstitutional.  The ACLJ, which has filed its own federal lawsuit challenging ObamaCare, is also backing legal challenges by Virginia and Florida.

“Without question, the individual mandate provision violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ.  “A federal district court in Virginia this week understood that the key provision in ObamaCare is constitutionally flawed and is beyond the scope of Congress’s authority.  It’s our hope that the federal appeals court in this Michigan case reaches that same conclusion.”

In the amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the ACLJ contends that the Commerce Clause “authorizes Congress to regulate economic activity, not economic decisions.” 

“As such, the Commerce Clause does not authorize Congress to regulate the inactivity of American citizens by requiring them to buy a good or service (such as health insurance) as a condition of their lawful residence in this country.  Because the individual mandate provision of the PPACA requires citizens to purchase health insurance or be penalized, the PPACA exceeds Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause.”

In a decision earlier this week, a federal district court in Virginia declared the individual mandate unconstitutional saying it “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”  The Obama Administration says it will appeal and the ACLJ, which filed an amicus brief representing 28 members of Congress and more than 70,000 Americans, is already working on another amicus brief in support of Virginia’s position as the appeal moves forward.

New Brunswick Pro-Life Television Commercial Under Attack

A pro-life TV ad run by New Brunswick Right to Life has come under attack. An anonymous party has complained to Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) that the ad violates the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

If ASC agrees the Code has been violated, it can ask media outlets not to run an offending ad. NB Right to Life contends the ad in no way violates the Code.

The ad, called “Lifesaver,” shows a female firefighter at a fire scene. She says, “There have been times when I almost didn’t make it. But the one time I had the most to lose was before I was born. My mom was young, single, no money. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to give me a chance, but today I know she be proud that her decision saved more than one life.”

Right to Life executive director Peter Ryan says the ad is “a very gentle, low key affirmation of life in the womb. There is no condemnation of abortion. The complainant is overreacting.” He said it appears the complaint “may be based on the advocacy of an abortion rights activist for whom any public expression of a pro-life viewpoint is untenable.”

In its submission to ASC, the pro-life group argued that “If an ad this low-key is unacceptable, then any pro-life ad connected to the issue of abortion must be considered unacceptable. If that were the case, it would be a manifestly unfair suppression of free speech, contrary to the ideals of a democratic society and in violation of Canadian human rights law.”

The complaint alleged that “The actor seems to provide real testimony, which in fact is based on a manipulative script.” Right to Life countered that it is common for ads to reflect a creative script, and that the Code accepts this.

A second allegation was that the ad “discriminates against women by indirectly shaming women who choose abortion.” The Right to Life group maintained that while the ad praises one woman’s choice to continue her pregnancy, “it implies no condemnation of women who have made other choices.”

Over 200 spots featuring the ad ran on New Brunswick television during October and November. Since the ad campaign is now over, ad adverse ruling by ASC would not have any immediate impact. “But it could impact any pro-life group’s future plans to air this or a similar ad,” comments Peter Ryan. “We therefore felt obliged to challenge this totally unfounded complaint.”

Pro-Life Group Releases Latest Cartoon on Population Issues

The creative team at the Population Research Institute has released the fourth episode of its popular YouTube cartoon series. The latest video is available for viewing at The video tackles the root causes of poverty and how to alleviate it (hint: overpopulation is not the cause of poverty). All of this, while retaining the wry, humorous tone of its predecessors.

The series, which has garnered more than a half-million views to date, has been collecting kudos from across the Internet.

“Reducing the number of people in the world doesn’t make those who remain any wealthier,” says Joseph Powell, the creator and animator of the series. “That’s why, as we show in our video, population control isn’t the answer to poverty.”

“We set out to be entertaining,” adds Colin Mason, PRI’s Director of Media Production and the video’s editor. “The idea is to artfully enthrall the viewer, who at the same time effortlessly absorbs certain demographic truths, chiefly, that people in their numbers create wealth, not poverty.”

“The fight against the myth of overpopulation does not have to be a bare-knuckled brawl,” says Steven Mosher, PRI’s president. “These videos are funny and easy to digest, the very opposite of Al Gore’s boring pronouncements on the ‘dangers’ of too many people. Our viewers end up considering the science that supports our pro-people position, often for the very first time. We say to our skeptics: watch, laugh, and learn.”

Cardinal O’Connor Conference Takes place for 12th Time in January

Washington, DC — The Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, one of the largest student-run pro-life conferences in America, will host prominent religious leaders, academics, and activists to discuss life issues at Georgetown University on January 23.

The highlight of the conference will be the panel “Building a Culture of Life Today: Learning from the Life and Legacy of Cardinal O’Connor,” moderated by the Rev. Joseph Koterski, S.J., a member of University Faculty for Life’s Board of Directors and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University.

The panel will include Professor Helen Alvaré of George Mason University School of Law, former Director of Planning and Information for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., Superior General of the Sisters of Life; Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus; and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore.

Another highlight of the conference will be a breakout session entitled, “The Cardinal’s Mind on Abortion: As Seen in the Major Events of the Episcopacy of John Cardinal O’Connor,” led by the Rev. Charles Connor, Assistant Professor of History and Theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Lila Rose, Founder and President of Live Action, will deliver the keynote address at 3:00 p.m.   

The first conference took place in 2000 and was later renamed in honor of Georgetown graduate John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York. Cardinal O’Connor was renowned for his courage as a champion of the unborn.

Minnesota to Rule on Case Involving Improper Use of Baby’s DNA

St. Paul, MN — The Minnesota Supreme Court has announced that it will review the Baby DNA lawsuit filed March 11, 2009 against the Minnesota Department of Health for the State’s collection, storage, use, and sharing of newborn DNA without parent knowledge or consent.

As Randy Knutson, lead attorney for the nine families who filed the lawsuit, says: “The Minnesota Supreme Court has granted review of the case. This is rare, and important. It means that the [MN] Supreme Court has found it to be one of the few cases important enough for it to review and decide. We are confident that the Supreme Court will take a long, hard look at the DNA privacy rights of parents and children, as well as the conduct of the Minnesota Department of Health.”

Twila Brase, a nurse who leads the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, responded to the lawsuit.

“A win for these nine families will be a win for every Minnesota family. Parents will be able to protect their children from becoming involuntary subjects of government genetic research. Parents will be able to preserve their child’s DNA ownership rights. Parents will be empowered to say no to the government’s DNA grab. A win will also help protect parent and child DNA and privacy rights nationwide,” she said.

Pro-Life Advocate Finds Support From Russians on Abortion

From Nov. 25 to Dec. 2, World Congress of Families Managing Director Larry Jacobs was in Moscow speaking at the Sanctity of Motherhood Conference and other events.

In the course of his trip, Jacobs spoke about the natural family, promoted the World Congress of Families, strategized with the Russian pro-life movement, and inspected the facilities and plans for the WCF “Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind” (tentatively scheduled for July 12-14, 2011).

Jacobs addressed two major conferences, lectured to faculty and students at Lomonosov Moscow State University, met with administrators and faculty at the Russia State Social University, conducted interviews (three for print and one for TV/video) and held 24 different meetings in and around Moscow during five days.

A project of the pro-life Center of National Glory and the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, the Sanctity of Motherhood Conference was held at the Christ the Savior Cathedral near the Kremlin in Moscow.  Jacobs was invited to speak by Mrs. Natalia Yakunina, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of The Sanctity of Motherhood All-Russia Program implemented by the Center of National Glory and the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation.

Both the Center of National Glory and the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation were founded by Vladimir Yakunin (President of the Russian National Railways) who is an active supporter of the Orthodox pro-family movement within Russia.  Mr. Yakunin, is also one of the organizers of the Rhodes Meeting of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations, which WCF participated in this year.

Among those participating in opening ceremony of the Sanctity of Motherhood conference was Russian First Lady, Svetlana Medvedeva. Other speakers included Orthodox Bishop Panteleimon, Professor Anatoly Antonov of  Lomonosov Moscow State University and E.B. Mizulina, the principal pro-life leader in the Russian Parliament, who heads up the Duma’s Committee on Family Affairs and authored the first pro-life law in modern Russia.

Many of the speakers echoed concerns about Russia’s future, due to very low fertility and rapid depopulation. Russia will lose an estimated 18 million people by 2030. On an annual basis, Russia has 4 million abortions and only 2 million live births.  The average Russian woman has six to seven abortions during her lifetime. The Russian people recognize some of these problems. For the first time since the Communist Revolution, there is hope that abortions may be banned in Russia, as secular national interests converge with pro-life Christian concerns.

After the opening plenary presentations, Jacobs met with Ewa Kowalewska (Human Life International, Europe), Father Maxim Obukhov (Head of Pro-Life Centers, Russian Orthodox Church), Galina Zajceva (Russian Pro-Life Leader), Igor Beloborodov (Demography and Pro-Life Orthodox Leader) and Professor Anatoly Antonov (Lomonosov MSU).

Jacobs also met with Father Dimitry Smirnov, spiritual leader of the Russian pro-life and pro-family movement during last 20 years and head of the Synodal department of the Russian Orthodox Church, who expressed unqualified support for the World Congress of Families and the upcoming WCF Moscow Demographic Summit.

Commenting on the importance of his participation in the conference, Jacobs said: “This was the first official WCF trip to Moscow since Allan Carlson’s visit in 1995.  We were delighted by the support we found there.  Russian pro-life/pro-family forces are eager to cooperate with their counterparts in the West.  Given its traditional support for faith and family, Russia will play an increasingly important part in the international struggle to preserve the natural family. We’re looking forward to our first-ever Demographic Summit: Family and The Future of Humankind in Moscow next year.”