In our commitment to defending family values in our state and our communities, NC Family has partnered with many state and federal pro-life organizations to pass legislation that honors the sanctity of every human life. One of those organizations is Americans United for Life (AUL), the nation’s first pro-life organization.
This year, North Carolina came in at 28th on AUL’s annual “Life List,” showing that while our state does have some protections for life, there is still work to be done. AUL’s President and CEO Catherine Glenn Foster continues her conversation with Traci DeVette Griggs on this week’s Family Policy Matters radio show, in Part 2 of a 2-part show.
“North Carolina has passed some laws that affirm life, and we are so delighted to see that,” says Foster. “But North Carolina lawmakers can definitely go further.” While our state has a prohibition of sex-selective abortions, there are not protections for babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb, two-thirds of whom are aborted.
One area of praise for North Carolina, Foster adds, is our restrictions on at-home chemical abortions. We require the first pill be taken in the presence of a licensed physician, and provide conscience protections for pharmacists, physicians, and nurses. “That is one of the ways that North Carolina is really leading the pack and is a shining example for all states across the nation,” says Foster.
“Change on abortion and the protection for human life, it’s going to come from the bottom up and not the top down. We need to channel the passion of citizens and the state lawmakers across the country to really create the most effective legislative efforts possible to stand up to judicial scrutiny and ultimately serve its purpose. […] We will continue to lead in states across the country to pass strong, life-affirming laws, because every life is precious. Every life has immeasurable value, and every life matters.”
Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Catherine Glenn Foster analyze how North Carolina defends life, and what changes we can look for on the federal level in the fight for life.
TRACI GRIGGS: Today we bring you Part 2 of our discussion with Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life.
Let’s talk about North Carolina, maybe not quite such a shining example [as Arkansas]. We do have a “Right to Know” law, of course, and we have a waiting period to allow women to reflect more on their choices. Of course, both laws are being barraged by opposition. Talk a little bit about North Carolina. We’re roughly in the middle of the pack. What are the positives and opportunities that you’re seeing here in our state?
CATHERINE GLENN FOSTER: North Carolina has passed some laws that affirm life, and we are so delighted to see that. But North Carolina lawmakers can definitely go further. There is a prohibition against sex-selective abortion, but we do know that a huge number of abortions are performed because of Down’s syndrome or other fetal anomalies. We know that two-thirds of babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome in the womb are aborted. And this is a vulnerable population that North Carolina lawmakers must protect.
North Carolina collects critical public health data on abortions, but doesn’t share it with the federal government. That’s an easy legislative fix. It’s going to help us better understand what’s going on in abortion businesses and it’ll help us craft policies that best serve women across the country. A North Carolina law recognizes children in the womb as a second victim if their mother is assaulted, but it doesn’t affirmatively require life-saving medical care for babies who are born alive during an abortion. We all remember Virginia Governor Northam’s chilling statement about keeping the baby comfortable while we decide what happens, and resuscitating the baby, if that’s what the mother wants. It was horrifying; it was something that really galvanized the pro-life movement, and Americans of all stripes. who heard that statement and thought, that is not pro-life; that is not what we stand for. And in fact, Americans United for Life conducted a poll just in the days following that statement, and we found that a super majority of all Americans—more than 80 percent—support life and support protections for life in the third trimester, late term abortions. They say, you know, the baby can survive outside the womb; we shouldn’t be performing these abortions at a time when there’s so much more risk to the mother in terms of even risk of death from that abortion. It’s deeply troubling.
North Carolina lawmakers, they also passed the bill in 2019, a “Born Alive” bill, but it was vetoed by the governor. I know it can be frustrating to fight a veto, but lawmakers in North Carolina have got to keep pushing to protect life by recognizing the baby as a separate patient who is entitled to life-sustaining medical care. That is what will start protecting these babies who are born alive in the course of an attempted abortion.
And then one of our big concerns on the national level is the push for at-home chemical abortions. North Carolina is the model for the nation in this area, requiring that the first pill be taken under the supervision of a physician who is licensed there in North Carolina, and providing conscience protections for pharmacists as well as for physicians and nurses. So, you know, looking to North Carolina, that is one of the ways that North Carolina is really leading the pack and is a shining example for all states across the nation.
Lawmakers are trying, your elected officials are doing what they can, but they can still do more. They can do more to protect life from fertilization to natural death: when it comes to Down’s syndrome; when it comes to health data; when it comes to continuing to push for protections for those children who are born alive in an attempted abortion. And then just working with other states to share your successes, for example on the chemical abortion front, because that is such an encouragement for states across the nation, as I travel around and share the North Carolina story on chemical abortions.
TRACI GRIGGS: That’s great information, and thank you for that. Let’s talk about the federal level. What have been the greatest successes at the national level, do you think in the last year?
CATHERINE GLENN FOSTER: At the national level, one of the greatest successes has been the elevation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. We expect that that will be a total game changer because it gives us a real workable majority to first chip away at, and then ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade. Back in fall of 2019, the National Constitution Center, which is headquartered up in Philadelphia, they invited me to join a panel discussing the future of Roe v. Wade. And so I was there to represent the pro-life perspective and I was debating the lawyer who argued the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case at the Supreme Court in 1992 (she argued for the pro-abortion side), and an abortion apologist law professor who teaches down in Florida. And the thing that really struck me about that experience was that both of those women onstage before a live studio audience and broadcast to the nation, they both said that this is the Supreme Court that will overturn Roe v. Wade. Now, I took it with a grain of salt because they’re clearly trying to preach to the choir, trying to rev up the troops and inspire pro-abortion people to turn out and to be vocal. But with that said, we are more and more seeing this kind of rhetoric from the pro-abortion side, that Roe v. Wade is in danger. In fact, even before Justice Kennedy retired, another year-plus before, there was an email that came out from NARAL pro-choice America, and the subject line was, “Not a Drill, Roe v. Wade in Danger.” So, we’re seeing this kind of rhetoric more and more; people who are concerned on the other side that Roe v. Wade will fall. And what that means for us will be a return of the issue to the state—the ability for lawmakers at the state level to really respond to the needs of their communities and to pass laws that are going to provide for holistic care for women and protections for children in the womb. And so there is so much hope now. And now especially that we have Justice Barrett on the Court, we do believe that we are closer than ever to overturningRoe v. Wade. So that is one of the biggest successes that we’ve seen over the last year.
I would also point to June Medical Services, that Supreme Court case that sadly did strike down the law in Louisiana. And at first it looked like a crushing defeat. It looked like Chief Justice Roberts had changed his vote from the 2016 Hellerstedt case and had struck down the law and it was devastating that morning, seeing that ruling. But then the more that we dug into it, the more we actually analyzed that ruling, we saw that we had four strong dissents from Justice Thomas and Justice Alito, and Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh; we had these dissents that stood for life. Justice Thomas in particular calling for a real re-examination of Roe. But even the Chief Justice’s concurrence—he wrote that to be the controlling opinion—and what he did was turn back the clock to before that Hellerstedt case. (The 2016 case that it was really devastating for pro-life advocates, because it gave every federal judge the ability to strike down a pro-life law, just because they would think, “Well, maybe there wasn’t really a need for this law. Maybe it wouldn’t really help women.”) And Chief Justice Roberts’s concurrence said, “No, we’re going to trust the lawmakers that this law will help women. Now, we’re just going to look at whether it’s Constitutional.” And so the Chief Justice opened the door to states passing more and more pro-life laws, and to federal courts upholding those laws. And we are seeing already in the federal courts and the lowest Supreme Courts, we are seeing cases being dismissed, cases that were brought by the abortion industry to try to strike down protective laws. We’re seeing those cases being dismissed because of June Medical Services and the Chief Justice’s concurring opinion. We’re seeing cases that we are winning in the federal courts because they’re citing that Chief Justice’s opinion. And so that too, even though it looked like a loss, it still is providing protections for women and for children. And it is encouraging states to pass more and more pro-life laws to be bold for life.
But even with all of that, I would just say that change on abortion and the protection for human life, it’s going to come from the bottom up and not the top down. We need to channel the passion of citizens and the state lawmakers across the country to really create the most effective legislative efforts possible to stand up to judicial scrutiny and ultimately serve its purpose. The Chief Justice was clear that many pro-life laws are indeed constitutional. And so we need to be continuing down that path and we will continue to lead in states across the country to pass strong, life-affirming laws, because every life is precious. Every life has immeasurable value, and every life matters.
TRACI GRIGGS: What kind of concerns might you have over the new incoming Biden Administration?
CATHERINE GLENN FOSTER: There’s a lot of fear. There’s fear for what’s going to happen going forward when it comes to funding for abortion, both here in the United States and around the world. And in fact, by the time this actually is released, it’s likely that the President may have repealed the Mexico City Policy, and we may again be funding abortions internationally. “Abortion Colonialism” you might call it; we’re exporting abortion and trying to strip away the pro-life beliefs of so many nations around the world by trying to use U.S. taxpayer funding to pay for abortions and abortion referrals and pro-abortion counseling in those nations. We’re also concerned about paying for abortion nationally and possibly attacks on the Hyde Amendment, trying to strip away those protections. We’re concerned about attempts to potentially try to codify Roe v. Wade, and try to enshrine Roe v. Wade in federal law, especially with the Senate, that equally-divided Senate.
It’s a concerning time for sure, but there’s also room for hope because President Biden was in favor of the Hyde Amendment for over 40 years, that policy that protected Americans from our taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortions. He’s on the record as recently as 2008, calling every abortion a tragedy. And so even with some of the statements that he made on the campaign trail, even as he was campaigning, I do hope that President Biden will choose moderation and unity by embracing the common-sense pro-life protections that he advocated for through his entire career in public service, in part based on his faith. I hope that he will listen to the one-third of Democrats who say that they’re pro-life and the two thirds of self-described pro-choice people who oppose some of the most radical abortions that we’ve seen. I do hope that he will choose that moderation and unity, even with a vice president who unfortunately has proven to be anything but unifying when it comes to life. With her selective persecution of our dear friend, David Daleiden, and her suggestion that if she were president, that her administration would require any state wanting to pass a pro-life law to run that law in advance, get approval for it from her Department of Justice, if she were president. So, some of the most radically pro-abortion ideas that we’ve seen.
But I still do have hope that in his calls for unity, the President will adhere to that when it comes to the abortion issue as well, that he will listen to the super-majority of Americans who oppose using our money, our taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions. And that he will support protections for life, common sense protections for women, and protections for the most vulnerable marginalized members of our communities.
TRACI GRIGGS: All right, well, thank you for that. We’re just about out of time for this week, but where can our listeners go to find out more about Americans United for Life and the good work that you do?
CATHERINE GLENN FOSTER: Yeah, our website is aul.org. Please go to our website, follow us on social media, and you can find out more about what we’re doing for life at the national level and especially in the states. So go to aul.org and find out what we’re doing, when we’re coming to your state, and what you can do to protect life.
TRACI GRIGGS: Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life, thank you so much for being with us today on Family Policy Matters.
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