During the Obama administration, the unborn did not have a friend in the White House.
The 44th president was cozy with the pro-abort movement and even ended with “God bless you” when addressing Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest abortion provider, in 2013.
Naturally, the desire for a pro-life president was strong during the 2016 presidential campaign. Voters knew that Hillary Clinton was loved by abortion proponents and would go out of her way to defend legal homicide. Her opponent, Donald Trump, hadn’t been a self-described pro-lifer for very much of his adult life. This led to nervousness on the part of some in the movement. Admittedly, I was one of those who cast a wary eye his way with regard to the very serious issue of protecting the unborn.
I am happy to report that after his first year in office, President Trump has made decisions that help to protect the most defenseless among us.
Here are the highlights.
Reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy
On January 23, 2017, just three days after taking the oath of office, Trump reinstated the Mexico City policy. Since it was enacted by President Reagan in 1984, it has been supported by Republican presidents and rescinded by Democratic presidents. Quite often, but not always, the abortion issue falls cleanly along party lines.
…states that foreign non-governmental organizations may not receive federal funding if they perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.
…the Mexico City Policy has become emblematic of a new president’s stance on abortion. Incoming presidents generally overturn or reinstate the policy within their first week of office, symbolizing the stance that they will take on abortion issues over the course of their presidency.
Truly, how a president handles the MCP acts as a bellwether for the rest of his administration with regard to abortion.
Nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court
On January 31, 2017, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to take the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is known as an originalist and textualist, and his stint on the bench thus far has proven that.
Pro-life organizations were quick to applaud his nomination.
The pro-life movement is advocating the swift confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, calling the federal appellate judge a “defender of the most basic human rights” and a legal theorist “reminiscent of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.”
Sixty national and state pro-life organizations sent a letter to the Senate on Monday to mark the beginning of the confirmation hearings.
The letter was spearheaded by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List and signed by representatives from Live Action, Students for Life and the Family Research Council.
It cites Judge Gorsuch’s record on religious liberty, including his decisions siding with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate.
For many on the Right side of the aisle, the Supreme Court vacancy was the factor that spurred them to support Donald Trump on election day. They could not tolerate the thought of Hillary Clinton appointing anyone to the high court. While the Gorsuch nomination and appointment is certainly one of Trump’s greatest achievements in his first year, greater impact still will be made when/if another seat becomes vacant. Any GOP president would have appointed a similar individual to follow in Scalia’s footsteps, which brings the bench to its most recent balance. The next justice will change the face of the court entirely. This is not to negate the impact and necessity of Gorsuch, though. Thankfully, it’s clear that any of Trump’s future nominations will be similarly solid based on how he handled this first, major judicial decision.
Defunding of UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund)
In early April, the Trump administration announced it would cut funds to the UNFPA based on its connection to population control in China. While the move was expected, and previous Republican presidents have done the same thing, it was of course met with resistance. However, it was necessary.
For many years, links have been exposed between the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and China’s one-child policy. China’s oppressive population control policy, recently changed to a two-child limit, has led to forced and coerced abortions up through nine months of pregnancy, as well as forced and coerced sterilizations.
“This determination was made based on the fact that China’s family planning policies still involve the use of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization, and UNFPA partners on family planning activities with the Chinese government agency responsible for these coercive policies,” the state department said.
The cut amounts to at least $32.5 million for the 2017; the department said it will redirect the funds to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which provides medical care to families across the world…
Killed Obama-Era Regulation Relating to Title X Funding
In mid-April, President Trump overturned a rule requiring states to pass federal funds to abortion providers.
President Trump has signed legislation that lets states withhold federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
The rule required that state and local governments distribute federal Title X funding for services related to contraception, fertility, pregnancy care and cervical cancer screenings to health providers, regardless of whether they perform abortions.
Now, states have the option to withhold those funds.
Essentially, this decision defunded the state-funding of Planned Parenthood. States have the option to distribute funds as they wish, but since that was not an option before (thanks to Obama), this was a major – and early – win for the pro-life movement.
Department of Health and Human Services Declares that Life Begins at Conception
Every four years, the HHS releases a strategic plan outlining their mission to help Americans. For the first time ever, the department released a plan that defined life as from “conception to natural death.”
That this became official public policy marked a major shift toward life.
Starting in 2010, HHS has been required to release a strategic plan every four years. This time their plan, for the first time ever, has explicitly recognized that life begins at conception. This is a major victory for the rights and dignity of the unborn.
The HHS plan goes well beyond lip service. It incorporates this scientific principle as an integral and holistic part of its healthcare mission here at home and around the globe. Specifically, the fact that life begins at conception is included in four key components of the plan.
This definition doesn’t change the abortion culture within the United States, but a department within the government has on their books that “life begins at conception”, and that is no small thing.
Today, President Trump will address the 45th annual March for Life. He is the first sitting president to do just that.
“Since his first day in office, President Trump has remained steadfast on his campaign promises to the pro-life cause and has actively worked to protect the unborn…We welcome our 45th President, Donald Trump, to the 45th annual March for Life,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement. “Over the past year, the Trump administration has significantly advanced pro-life policy, and it is with great confidence that, under his leadership, we expect to see other pro-life achievements in the years to come.”
The president of the March for Life is not incorrect in her assessment. As seen above, President Trump has truly made great strides in the fight to protect unborn life. Policies have nixed funds that directly propped up the abortion industry and decisions affecting the future, from judicial appointments to very definitions, have been decidedly pro-life.
So what does Trump get for his first year as it relates to the pro-life cause? He gets an A, but not an A+.
Unfortunately, under a Republican-controlled Congress, Planned Parenthood still receives half a billion dollars in federal funds each year. This is unacceptable and should be a priority on the legislative agenda. This kind of victory would require a near-miracle in the Senate, a place where GOP Senators, and pro-abort harpies, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins reside. Without their support, and without help from a few on the other side of the aisle, passing anything relating to defunding is dead on arrival.
Another difficulty in the fight, though a minor one from a policy standpoint, is Trump’s own language and behavior. His words on the campaign trail, when he said women who have abortions should be punished, is still mentioned to serve as proof of his callousness. While he recanted and went on to say it is abortionists who should be punished, which is what he should have said all along, the mistake cost him. In addition, Trump’s history of philandering doesn’t blend well with a movement that focuses on helping women find hope when faced with an unplanned pregnancy that too often is a result of casual sexual behavior. This is something that must be addressed by those who are leaders in the movement. If not, they will come across as disingenuous.
I am happy to have been wrong about the outlook for the pro-life movement in America under Donald J. Trump. Given the advancement in these first twelve months, we can plainly see that the rest of his tenure will follow in similar life-affirming footsteps.
Follow Kimberly Ross on Twitter: @southernkeeks.