This week, Georgetown Right to Life is hosting our annual Life Week, a week dedicated to promoting human life and dignity from conception to natural death. We have an event every day, including speakers, flag day, and service projects. Yesterday, for our first event we hosted a panel on the Future of Pro-Life Legislation and Court Cases, co-sponsored by Georgetown University College Republicans. The room was packed, but if you were not able to attend and still want to learn more about this topic, here are our notes from this really informative panel.
Our panelists included Arina Grossu, the director for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. She has appeared on many news outlets. Her area of expertise is abortion, women’s health, sex trafficking, pornography, bioethics, and euthanasia. Our second panelist was Steve Aden, who is on the Senior council at the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Director for the Center for Life Alliances there. His areas of expertise are the sanctity of human life, free speech, and the constitutionality of faith-based interest. He is involved in many abortion cases in court. Our panel was moderated by Dr. Jeanne Lord, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Georgetown and RTL’s wonderful faculty adviser.
First question: How do you see the events of the past 50 years? What has been effective? Where is the pro-life movement going?
Mr. Aden argued that unlike with most Supreme Court Cases, the Court never “sealed the deal” on Roe v. Wade. Usually debate will end and people will come to agree on a decision. This has not happened with Roe, rather debate persists even close to 45 years later. Mr. Aden compared this to how after Dred Scott v. Sandford, abolitionist continued to fight against slavery. Both of these cases were based on ignorance that went against demonstrable truth. However, Mr. Aden was hopeful that we can right this wrong too.
Ms. Grossu pointed out that since 1973, ore laws have been passed against abortion in the past five years than ever before. States have been chipping away at abortion form many different angles through different abortion bans on different types of abortion. Abortion rates are now at an all time low since 1973. She also attributed this to new medical technology that show us the humanity of the fetus.
What Does Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court mean?
Ms. Grossu was very hopeful and encouraged by Grouch’s nomination and probable confirmation to the Supreme court. She wrote about this in an article called “Gorsuch’s Pro-Life Promise.” While Gorsuch never has ruled on a case directly on abortion, he has ruled on cases surrounding abortion, such as siding with businesses and religious organizations in Hobby Lobby v. Sibelius and a wrongful death of a no-viable baby. Because he is an originalist and a contextualist, he will not just overturn Roe on a whim because of political pressures, rather he will look critically at the cases and likely yield good pro-life decisions.
Mr. Aden similarly was hopeful with this potential Supreme Court Justice. Mr. Aden argued that Gorsuch believes in the independence of the judiciary, and is smart, strong-minded, and a constitutional conservative. He has good judicial philosophy and unlike Souter and Kennedy, he believes that Gorsuch will prove to be more pro-life. Mr. Aden explained that all think tanks in DC, conservative and liberal alike, will look into potential nominees and the implicaitons.
What are the implications of the Senate vote to defund Planned Parenthood?
Mr. Aden explained that the senate voted against the rule that prohibited states from defunding planned parenthood by sending that money to other federally funding health centers through Title X of Medicaid. States wanted to do this because the reproductive health services model was invented by Planned Parenthood to benefit Planned Parenhtood. By making this business model, they separate a woman form their general health doctor. But there she wouldn’t even see an actual doctor, who would not focus on all parts of health. Planned Parenthood does not provide prenatal care to poor people nor does it give mammograms. This is a bad healthcare policy which thankful states no longer have to follow.
How do you respond to people who say that the pro-life movement is only pro-birth?
Ms. Grossu agreed with critics and argued that there are many ways that the pro-life community needs to promote life and help women and children in need. Pregnancy care centers already exist to help people beyond pregnancy by providing resources, places to live, and job training. She emphasized the need to improve the adoption system (a theme throughout the night). It is way too expensive, costing up to $60,000 to adopt child. She believed that better tax credits for children and paid maternity and paternity leave are key life issues. She also argued that churches need to improve their ministries by serving pregnant women, single moms, and post abortive women. Many women are too scared to go to their churches for help with an unplanned pregnancy out of shame, and this is a failure on the movement. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood’s abortion rates have increased, while their other services have decreased. They are also accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of abortion in the US. The pro-life movement must help provide better life-affirming alternatives to Planned Parenthood.
What advice would you give to pro-life students?
Ms. Grossu encouraged our audience to be courageous. While working in the pro-life movement will often get you branded, we should be proud of that brand. It is a social justice movement, that begins at conception.
Mr. Aden encouraged the audience to keep up the fight even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, because then it will become a state battle. He spoke of his own inspirations: his mother who had three very difficult pregnancies and worked at a pregnancy center and his wife who works for National Right to Life and gave birth to six children. He also encouraged students to believe and have confidence in their opinions, which was something he learned to do when he attended Georgetown Law school.
Hunter Estes, RTL Events Coordinator, asked how we can improve our foster care system through the legal system?
Mr. Aden explained that since Reagan, the foster to adoption law was designed to encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to pressure the states to move more quickly to put children in adoption systems, not just the foster system. This has been neglected in recent years. Adoption is a bit of a dirty secret: if a baby is a healthy white baby, the chances of the kid staying in a foster system is virtually zero. Minority or disabled babies, the odds of getting permanently adopted decrease. This is wrong and needs to be addressed by the church and combatted by the pro-life movement.
Ms. Grossu furthered Mr. Aden remarks on the foster care system. Psychology shows that children need a mom and a dad and a more stable environment. This would be good for their developmental health. Foster system has a lot of legal battles. We need to figure out the balance: want kids in a healthy environment but also with their biological family. We don’t want to separate siblings: people need to open up their homes for multiple kids. Christians and pro-life advocates should open their homes to foster children and adopting multiple kids. She also mentioned that foster parents to adopting is much cheaper than just adopting.
GUCR member Chris Grocki asked why no one attacks Roe’s legal basis in the court case Griswold v. Connecticut?
Mr. Aden argued that Griswald should have been decided on a different basis. There is a sphere of marital privacy, but then the right of privacy became an pandora’s box. They couldn’t figure out where to draw the line. Also lots of legal people do not actually respect Roe v. Wade.
Ms. Grossu added that there became a need for abortion because of the spread of contraception and the extramarital sex that came with it.
Knights of Columbus member Joe Bottari asked if abortion is causing the decline of “western Christian civilization.”
While Ms. Grossu did not mention the decline of “western Christian civilization,” but she discussed the demographic catastrophe facing the world due to abortion and contraception. She discussed a documentary called The Demographic Winter which discussed how people are not replacing themselves through reproduction. This is creating an inverted demographic pyramid in Europe and China. In China, this ratio is also skewed by gender leading to increased sex trafficking in China. As we get more elderly than young people, this will lead to a rise in euthanasia. Therefore abortion culture is going to lead to euthanasia culture.
Stay tuned for updates on our many other Life Week 2017 events!
Recorded and edited by
RTL Vice President