Playing Defense for Life

One of the constant features of life in Washington is that ever four or eight years the People blow the electoral whistle and a new team comes onto the field. The team that was playing offense comes off the gridiron and sends its defensive team on. So it is with Election 2020. The whistle has blown, though not everyone heard it, and a confusing mass of blue and red shirts running on and off the field will soon give way to a familiar (though rearranged) line of scrimmage come January 20, 2021. 

Before we huddle over our defensive strategy going forward, let’s take stock of the strong gains the pro-life movement has made over the last four years. Topping the white board has to be the presence of three new constitutionalist Supreme Court Justices nominated by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate, resulting in a 6-3 pro-life majority. Backing them up will be an increasingly conservative judiciary, with 218 total appointments and counting. President Trump will be the first president in the modern era to fill every available court of appeals seat, a key goal for success in the courts because the federal district courts take their orders from the appeals courts. 

“Keys to the Game” for the defensive team begin with the presumption that the Senate will remain in pro-life hands, even as we watch the runoff elections in Georgia closely. For two reasons, I doubt either David Perdue or Kelly Loeffler will lose: first, because there isn’t the passionate intensity in their runoff that there was in the presidential election, and second, because in spite of the result there last week, Georgia remains solidly pro-life. That being the case, Republicans should have a one- or two-vote majority in the Senate for the next two years, laying to rest Democrat threats to “pack the Supreme Court” by expanding the number of pro-abortion Justices. 

We know that the Biden team has already committed to abolishing the Protecting Life in Global Health policy, which prohibits the use of U.S. funds overseas to promote abortion, and the Protect Life Rule that has kept Planned Parenthood out of the federal family planning program. It will take a strong public effort to stop him from doing so by executive order once he’s inaugurated, but if he understands the political price his administration would pay, he may have second thoughts. 

A Senate majority should give pro-life lawmakers an edge in preserving crucial pro-life budgetary riders such as the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funds for elective abortions, and others like the Weldon Amendment, the Kemp-Kasten Amendment, the Church Amendments, and the Siljander Amendment. Likewise, we’ll have to fight hard in the courts and the Food & Drug Administration to stop abortion advocates’ determination to loosen the rules governing chemical abortion to permit DIY/at-home abortions. A Senate majority should also strengthen the movement’s efforts to stop pro-abortion members of Congress from “codifying Roe” through a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), a federal law that would prohibit states from protecting women’s lives and health by regulating abortion businesses.  

On the positive side, as of this writing, Republicans have gained as much as 8 seats in the House. While they’ll still be the minority, the narrow split in that chamber may enable pro-life lawmakers to achieve agreement on commonsense, reasonable pro-life measures, such as efforts to promote palliative care for critical patients, a national “Safe Haven” law to empower first responders to receive infants given up for adoption, and  legislative measures to address the growing problem of common carriers mailing chemical abortion pills over state and international borders. 

And AUL’s strategy in the states, as always, is to continue to empower and advocate for strong, constitutional life-affirming legislation. Pro-life lawmakers made very strong gains at the state level this election as well, and we look forward to working with our hundreds of partners in state houses across the country to advance a Culture of Life.