Unborn babies lose in US Senate
Women break ranks
Mormons try to hold the line
Episcopalians embrace painful abortive death
Democrats and Republicans play party politics
By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
Feb. 2, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC — Something happened on Monday (Jan. 29) in the US Senate. Something that most Americans wouldn’t notice or even give a second thought to. Something that should tear at the souls of Christians. Something that should tear, at the very least, the hearts of women — the bearers of life.
The Senate, by a vote of 51 to 46, decided to reject the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act through failing to bring it to a floor vote. The Act would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, a point where some believe that the unborn baby is well enough developed neurologically to feel pain. That still-developing baby can feel the pain of being ripped from its mother’s womb through the act of abortion. In its last moments of life, the womb becomes a death chamber and the baby experiences horrific agony before it is returned into the hands of its loving Creator. That child never draws a breath of life on earth. Its potential as a human being is wiped out and its soul returns to God, who placed it in its developing body.
The latest bill for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was introduced to the 115th Congress in January 2017 by Rep. Trent Franks (AZ-R). His House Bill HR 36, had 182 co-sponsors. Franks, a Baptist, stepped down from Congress on Jan. 31 amid allegations of alleged sexual harassment. Franks is the fourth US legislator to leave Congress under a cloud of suspicion.
Since December, Rep. John Conyers (MI-D/Baptist); Rep. Tim Murphy (PA-R/Catholic); and Sen. Al Franken (MN-D/Jewish) also left Congress following alleged accusations of inappropriate sexual conduct.
Franks’ House Bill HR 36 came to vote on October 3, 2017, and passed by a margin of 237 to 189. The House vote was along party lines, with three Democrats Collin Peterson (MN-D/Lutheran); Henry Cuellar (TX-D/Catholic); and Dan Lipenski (IL-D/Catholic) crossing over to vote with the Republicans. Two Republicans, Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-R/Episcopalian) and Charlie Dent (PA-R/Presbyterian) voted with the Democrats.
Currently there are 31 Congressmen who self-declare as Anglican or Episcopalian. Those voting for HB 36 included: Don Young (AK-R); Brady Byrne (AL-R); Ken Calvert (CA-R); Scott Tipton (CO-R); Lleana Ros-Lohtinen (FL-R); Rod Blum (IA-R); Peter Roskam (IL-R); Andy Barr (KY-R); Tom MacArthur (NJ-R); Greg Walden (OR-R); Mark Sanford (DC-R); Tom Rice (SC-R); Scott Des Jarlais (TN-R); Diane Black (TN-R); Jeb Hensarling (TX-R); Michael Burgess (TX-R); Blake Frarenthold (TX-R); and Rob Wittman (VA-R).
Episcopalians voting against the House bill included: Julia Brownley (CA-D); Al Lawson (FL-D); Frederica Wilson (FL-D); Niki Tsongas (MA-D); Louise Slaughter (NY-D); Kurt Schrader (OR-D); Jim Coopers (TN-D); Robert Scott (VA-D); Don Beyer (VA-D); Suzan DelBene (WA-D); Adam Smith (WA-D); David McKinley (WV-R); and Rodney Frelinghuysen (NY-R).
On Oct. 5, 2017, the House bill was taken up by the Senate for consideration as Senate Bill S-1922. It was sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC-R/Baptist) and had 46 co-sponsors.
Cloture Motion defeated
Then on Jan. 16 Graham introduced a cloture motion (Senate Bill S-2311) to cease debate, break the Democrats’ filibuster and bring about a vote on Senate Bill S-1922. A roll call vote was called and the motion failed 51 to 46 nine votes shy of passing because 60 votes, not 51 votes, were needed to break the Democrats’ filibuster and bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to a full floor vote.
The vote was basically along party lines, however two Republicans crossed over to join the Democrats: Lisa Murkowski (AK-R) and Susan Collins (ME-R). Both are women and both are Roman Catholics. Three Democrats also crossed over to vote with the Republicans: Joe Donnelly (IN-D); Joe Manchin (WV-D); and Bob Casey (PA-D). All Catholic men.
In the end, three of the Senate’s seven current — or former — Episcopalians did not vote. Bill Nelson (FL-D); Tammy Baldwin (WI-D); and John McCain (AZ-R).
Nelson received flak on Facebook for not voting: “Hey Bill, why didn’t you care about babies being killed?” Kathy Vercamen Widner asked. “You did not even bother to vote on the bill limiting abortion to less than 20 weeks. Why do you want to kill babies that die in terrible pain? You must agree with the ability to kill them since you neglected to vote to protect them.”
McCain, who was raised as an Episcopalian but now worships as a Baptist, did not vote because he is battling cancer and was unable to travel to Washington for the debate and vote.
Baldwin, the first lesbian in the US Senate, was baptized as an Episcopalian, but now lists herself a “None.” The other four sitting Episcopalians in the Senate — Angus King (ME-I); Gary Peters (MI-D); Christopher Van Hollen (MD-D); and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI-D) — all voted against the measure, helping to torpedo the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act and keeping it from a full vote.
The Washington Post reported that King — one of two Independent senators — voted against the cloture motion because “ninety-nine percent of abortions take place before 20 weeks, so this is a solution in search of a problem.” The other Independent in the senate is Bernie Sanders (VT-I/Jewish) who ran as a Democrat in the 2016 presidential primaries. While in Washington, both King and Sanders caucus with the Democrats. There are currently no Independent congressmen in the House of Representatives.
This is the third time that the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act failed to get through the Senate. Initially in 2013, Franks introduced House Bill HR 1797 to the 113th Congress. The House of Representatives passed the measure 228 to 196, but it failed to even get to the Senate floor for a vote. In 2015, Franks tried again with the 114th Congress and introduced House Bill HR 36 which passed his chamber by 242 to 184. But a similar bill in the Senate was filibustered by the Democrats and the cloture motion to bring the bill up for a full vote failed 54 to 42, shy six votes needed to break the filibuster.
Finally, on Jan. 3, 2017, Franks reintroduced HR 36 to the 115th Congress. It passed in a roll call vote of 237 to 189 but again failed to make it to the floor of the Senate for a full vote.
Individually, 15 Heartland and Southern states have passed similar Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts. Those states include: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. One other state — Idaho — also passed a Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection law, but it was challenged in court and has since been enjoined. The law is not in effect in Idaho.
The United States is one of only seven nations in the world which allows abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The other countries include: Canada, China, the Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. The 20th week of gestation is midway through the second trimester of pregnancy, about halfway from conception to birth. At that point, the growing baby is beyond the embryo and fetus stages. It is about eight inches long and has all its fingers and toes, albeit very tiny. The baby has a face and its sex is discernable. The baby’s heartbeat can be heard and its interuteral movement is felt by the mother as she begins to wear maternity clothes to accommodate her growing baby bump. Her 20-week baby is a living, growing being who can feel pain.
According to the National Right to Life Committee since the 1973 passage of Roe Vs. Wade — marking the legalization of on-demand abortion — through 2016, there have been more than 58 million elective abortion procedures, which is equivalent to the combined population of California and Florida. The latest 2017 abortion statistics have not yet complied.
A 2015 LifeWay survey revealed that 70 percent of American women who have abortions are self-proclaiming Christians. Of that number more than 40 percent of them were active church members at the time of their procedure, including 20 percent who were attending church on a weekly basis. The survey also discovered that three-quarters of the women who had undergone abortions noted that their church had “no influence on their decision” to end their pregnancy. Another third of the women felt their church was judgmental about their abortion choice.
Catholic senators reject church teaching
The Roman Catholic Church’s strong stance on life is that life begins at conception and continues until natural death. This precludes abortion, murder, euthanasia, suicide and execution to artificially end a human life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” CCC 2270
The Church of Rome goes on to say: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law …” CCC 2271.
The Catholic Church calls abortion “constitutes a grave offense,” and calls on legislators to enact legislation which would protect the unborn. Anyone who participates in an abortion is excommunicated for the “crime against human life.”
“A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication ‘latae sententiae’ (an automatic action) by the very commission of the offense …” CCC 2272.
“The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation … The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority … As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.” CCC 2273.
On Monday, 14 of 24 Catholic senators ignored their church’s teaching and voted against the cloture motion to bring the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to a full Senate vote. The dissenting Catholic senators included: Lisa Murkowski (AK-R); Susan Collins (ME-R); Maria Cantwell (WA-D); Dick Durbin (IL-D); Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-D); Heidi Heitkamp (ND-D); Tim Kaine (VA-D); Patrick Leahy (VT-D); Ed Markey (MA-D); Catherine Cortez Masto (NV-D); Claire McCaskill (MO-D); Bob Menendez (NJ-D); Patty Murray (WA-D); and Jack Reed (RI-D).
The Catholic senators who did take their church’s prolife beliefs to heart and voted for the cloture motion were: Bob Casey (PA-D); Joe Donnelly (IN-D); John Hoeven (ND-R); Joe Machen (WV-D); Jim Risch (ID-R); Mike Rounds (SD-R); Mario Rubio (FL-R); Dan Sullivan (AK-R); Thom Tillis (NC-R); and Patrick Toomey (PA-R).
The Catholics base their prolife beliefs upon Jer. 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you …” Also: Job 10: 8-12: “Thy hands fashioned and made me … Thou hast granted me life and steadfast love; and thy care has preserved my spirit …” And Ps. 22:10-11: “Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God …” RSV
The Mormons, too, base their strong prolife stance on Jeremiah 1:5 and the Sixth Commandment which forbids murder meaning that “elective abortion … is contrary to the will and the commandments of God …” and those who participate in it may face excommunication.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints clearly teaches that “Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.”
There are six Mormons in the Senate and they maintained their party’s political line. The five Republicans: Mike Lee (UT-R); Dean Heller (NV-R); Orrin Hatch (UT-R); Jeff Flake (AZ-R) and Mike Crapo (ID-R) voted for the cloture motion, while the lone Mormon to vote against the cloture motion was Tom Udall (NM-D).
The Episcopal “Abortion is a Blessing” chant
The Episcopal Church embraces abortion. Although in 1982, the 67th General Convention “condemns abortion for the purpose of sex selection and for non-serious abnormalities in the fetus.” Yet in 1994, the 71st General Convention resolved to “express its unequivocal opposition to any legislative, executive or judicial action on the part of local, state or national governments that abridges the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of pregnancy or that would limit the access of a woman to safe means of acting on her decision.”
TEC is notorious for its embrace of abortion. In 2009 the Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, a radicalized feminist progressive LGBT advocate and lesbian Episcopal priest declared that “abortion was a blessing,” in her first sermon as the new president of Episcopal Divinity School.
“When a woman wants a child but can’t afford one because she hasn’t the education necessary for a sustainable job, or access to health care, or day care, or adequate food, it is the abysmal priorities of our nation, the lack of social supports, the absence of justice that are the tragedies; the abortion is a blessing,” Ragsdale preached.
“And when a woman becomes pregnant within a loving, supportive, respectful relationship; has every option open to her; decides she does not wish to bear a child; and has access to a safe, affordable abortion – there is not a tragedy in sight — only blessing. The ability to enjoy God’s good gift of sexuality without compromising one’s education, life’s work, or ability to put to use God’s gifts and call is simply blessing,” she continued.
“I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing — who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work,” she explained.
“These are the two things I want you, please, to remember — abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: ‘Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done … Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done … Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done,'” the Episcopal priest chanted.
In 2015, Jeff Walton, with the Institute of Religion and Democracy wrote: “The Episcopal Church has long been an affiliate of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), an ostensibly religious organization funded by secular philanthropies and providing a veneer of religious support to abortion-on-demand.”
In 2016, the Rev. Anne Fowler’s abortion was championed in an amicus brief before the US Supreme Court. She was an abortion activist with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and a Planned Parenthood board member. She also was a speaker at National Abortion Federation Conferences where she told the pro-choice crowd that “God was on their side”, sees “abortion as a moral choice,” and felt no regret at ending a pregnancy.
“If the Reverend Anne Fowler had not had access to an abortion when she accidentally became pregnant after enrolling in [the Episcopal] Divinity School, she would never have been able to graduate, to serve as a parish rector, or to help the enormous number of people whose lives she has touched,” the amicus brief explained. “… Anne knew she could not complete Divinity School and pursue a career as a priest if she did not have an abortion.”
Fowler was ordained a priest in 1986 by Bishop David Johnson (XIV Massachusetts). He committed suicide in 1995 following revelations that he was involved in several extra marital affairs.
Episcopal priests have even been known to bless abortion clinics. In 2015 the V. Rev. Tracey Lind, then dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, blessed an abortion clinic in her city.
“Bless this building,” she prayed. “May its walls stand strong against the onslaught of shame thrown at it. May it be a beacon of hope for those who need its services.”
In 2009, Abby Johnson, an Episcopalian in Texas, left her employment at Planned Parenthood after she assisted at the abortion of a late first trimester pregnancy. Even though she has undergone abortion herself, Johnson was so sickened by the experience, she quit her job. Afterward she was so hounded by her local Episcopal congregation for her change of heart, that she became a Roman Catholic.
“Now that I have taken this stand, some of the people there are not accepting of that,” she told Julia Duin of The Washington Times. “People have told me they disagree with my choice. One of the things I’ve been told is that ‘as Episcopalians, we embrace our differences and disagreements.’ While I agree with that, I am not sure I can go to a place where I don’t feel I am welcome.”
“Liberal Anglicans in America are among the most fervent supporters of abortion in the world, outstripping even atheists in their enthusiasm for this gruesome procedure,” the Berean Call wrote in 2009.’
However, the Anglican Church in North American stands against The Episcopal Church’s stance on abortion. ACNA’s Constitution and Canons says: “all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death …” echoing what the Catholic Church states.
Episcopalians vote in the Senate
In keeping with how The Episcopal Church views abortion, the four voting Episcopal Senators all voted against the cloture motion, including Angus King (I-ME); Gary Peters (D-MI); Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD); and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The three non-voting, current — or former — Episcopal senators were Bill Nelson (D-FL); Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); and John McCain (AZ-R).
It is the woman who undergoes the abortion procedure. In later years, many times she is left with emotional trauma, regrets, shame, guilt, emptiness, loss and painful memories. Project Rachel is the Catholic Church’s ministry to traumatized post-abortion women.
In 2000, the 73rd General Convention acknowledged “that some men and women suffer from post-abortion stress …” and the need for men and women who have participated in an abortion and who may feel the need for pastoral and sacramental ministries of this church.” Resolution D083 called for “parishes to make available contact information for counseling agencies that offer programs to address post-abortion stress for all seeking help.”
An Episcopal priest told VirtueOnline that men, too, are traumatized by abortions performed on their wives and sweethearts. Many times, the man is left out of the decision-making process and in the end, he, too, has lost his own unborn child and is left with empty arms, a broken heart and dashed dreams.
However, the priest explained that there is not a churchwide ministry superficially dedicated to helping Episcopal women deal with the post abortion trauma caused by the ripping of their babies from their wombs by the pregnancy-ending procedure.
He noted that The Episcopal Church was too focused on supporting abortion rights to provide meaningful after-the-abortion spiritual care.
There are 22 women in the US Senate. All but three voted against the cloture motion, even if they had to cross the aisle to do it. Those who joined with the Democrats to cast a NO vote were: Susan Collins (ME-R) and Lisa Murkowski (AK-R). Both are Catholics. Other women senators who voted against the measure were: Diane Feinstein (CA-D/Jewish); Kamala Harris (CA-D/Baptist); Mazie Hirono (HA-D/Buddhist); Tammy Duckworth (IL-D/None); Elizabeth Warren (MA-D/Methodist); Debbie Stabenow (MI-D/Methodist); Amy Klobuchar (MN-D/Congregationalist); Claire McCaskill (MO-D/Catholic); Tina Smith (MN-D/Unknown); Catherine Masto (NV-D/Catholic); Jeanne Shaheen (NH-D/Protestant); Maggie Hassan (NH-D/Congregationalist); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY/Catholic); Heidi Heitkamp (ND-D/Catholic); Maria Cantwell (WA-D/Catholic) and Patty Murray (WA-D/Catholic).
The three Republican senators who did want to move the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act toward a floor vote were: Joni Ernest (IA-R/Lutheran); Deb Fischer (NE-R/Presbyterian); and Shelley Capito (WV-R/Presbyterian). Tammy Baldwin (WI-D/None) did not vote.
Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline