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Tony Perkins / Jun. 25, 2019

St. Louis's Arch Enemy on Life

Unfortunately for women across the country, there's a great big abortion lobby out there that doesn't care about safety.

When a plane crashes, the FAA doesn’t say, “Oh, well. There were 10,000 other flights that landed okay. Sometimes these things just happen.” Of course not. They put their best teams on the ground to study exactly what happened so that it never happens again. The American people should feel safe stepping onto a plane — just like they should feel safe walking into a hospital, or even — as Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services points out — an abortion clinic.

Unfortunately for women across the country, there’s a great big abortion lobby out there that doesn’t care about safety. Not really. They care about profits. And scathing reviews — like the one their St. Louis location just got — put those profits at risk. “Nobody’s perfect,” Randall Williams told a room full of reporters Friday morning. But when Planned Parenthood put four vulnerable moms in jeopardy to make a buck, his department vowed: never again. When the location’s license renewal came up again this past week, the answer from DHSS was simple — No.

“We have almost 500 individuals who get up every day with the goal of making sure they’re protecting health and keeping people safe in Missouri,” Williams said. Usually, it’s a “thankless job.” Now, because of Planned Parenthood, it’s also a controversial one. But just because his agency is dealing with an abortion facility doesn’t mean their agenda is political. The state’s job, he argued, is making sure “our facilities are following the law and following the rules and practicing a standard of care.” It shouldn’t matter whether the state is investigating a nursing home or a day care, he argued. “…[O]ur north star is always the individual getting care.” If something is deficient, Williams insisted, people have a right to know.

Randall was a clinician for 30 years. He understands how the health industry works. Usually, he explained, when organizations get a negative report, they’re the first to admit that they want to do better. Planned Parenthood, he notes with some surprise, didn’t. After 30 violations, the organization’s leadership wasn’t just unapologetic to inspectors — they were indifferent. Under the circumstances, that seemed a little incredible to inspectors. One woman’s abortion was so badly botched that she had to undergo three in three days. Another mom almost bled out entirely. And what was Planned Parenthood’s response? We’re going to sue to seal the evidence and get the courts to keep our doors open — without fixing a thing.

For the third time in a handful of weeks, circuit court Judge Michael Stelzer obliged, keeping Planned Parenthood’s death trap afloat — indefinitely. For Williams’s team, it had to have come as a shock. “We have a duty,” he had insisted hours before, “to prevent future harm, to prevent future accidents or bad outcomes, to make sure that there’s not something systematically wrong.” And yet this activist judge, with one wave of his gavel, made the potentially fatal decision to put his agenda above the safety every mother deserves. In a decision that ought to make every American shudder, Stelzer overruled pages and pages of evidence that proved any woman walking through Planned Parenthood’s doors is in danger of never coming out.

In all of his years of regulating, Williams says he’s never seen anything like it. As Missouri knows: This isn’t just an organization that’s hurting mothers. It’s an organization determined to cover it up. “It’s unprecedented,” he told reporters, that three doctors who were involved in these cases would refuse to cooperate.

“…[T]three doctors that have been involved in the care of the cases I cited to you have refused to cooperate… That would be like the FAA [monitoring] a plane crash, in which people got injured, and investigating it. And when people say, ‘Did you talk to the pilots?’ we [reply] ‘No, we didn’t talk to the pilots.’ And they would say, ‘You gave a license, and you didn’t talk to the pilots involved in the plane crash?’ ‘No, they didn’t want to talk to us, so we didn’t talk to them.’ Just imagine if the next week a plane crashed again with those same pilots… Do you understand how the loved ones of that second plane [would feel?]” They’d be angry. “‘You didn’t talk to the pilots to find out why the first plane crashed?’”

There are men and women all across the country in health departments just like Williams’s. They probably have different views and feelings about abortion — and I understand that reality. But in the end, it doesn’t matter how they feel about Planned Parenthood or its business. Their job is to keep people safe. Williams and his team take that responsibility seriously. It’s a shame that Judge Stelzer and friends don’t.

Originally published here.

At Graduation, a Degree of Intolerance

If you think the secularists are busy at Christmas time, try graduation! While they warm up for the season of nativity display lawsuits and school pageant protests, groups like the Freedom from Religion Foundation stay in practice by cranking out letters on commencement speeches. And thanks to cell phone videos and social media capturing the ceremonies, they have more schools in their sights than ever.

That doesn’t scare pastors like Alvin Dupree. The school board member and Appleton North High School graduation speaker isn’t going to let a little thing like religious intolerance get in the way of his graduation advice. Not even, as he points out, when the Freedom from Religion Foundation had an extra advantage: home turf.

The school knew what it was getting into when it invited a pastor to give Appleton’s keynote address, Pastor Dupree told the listeners of “Washington Watch” this past Friday. “I’ve made it no secret that I am first and foremost a man of God,” he said. So when he mentioned his relationship with God in front of the school’s 500 students, none of it should have come as a surprise. “Whatever your source of strength is,” he told the seniors, “you lean on it, never let anyone make you hide it. For me, my source of strength is my faith, my relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Of course, “hiding it” is exactly what the secular bullies have in mind when it comes to religion. So it was more than a little ironic that days after giving that advice, the foundation’s attorneys came after him. “This situation did not come as a surprise to me,” he explained. In 2017, he said, the same Freedom from Religion Foundation attacked him for saying similar things at a school event. “However, there was no recording of it — so it was null and void for them to try to attack me because they couldn’t see the actual recording. Well, this time around, I believe there was some intentionality from the Freedom from Religion Foundation [including] contacting people to watch.”

Imagine their spies’ surprise at the end of the speech when Pastor Dupree completely edited the language the school had given him. “It’s my pleasure to commend each of you on your achievement,” he told the graduates, “and to publicly and formally [congratulate] the Appleton North High School. Now, it was typed out to say, ‘Best wishes,’ but I’m changing their script to what I would say: God bless!”

At the end of the program, Pastor Dupree says he was mobbed by students who wanted to shake his hand and thank him for adding that last part. Hundreds of parents and seniors surrounded him, he remembers, telling him how much it meant that he spoke publicly “as an elected official.” It really encouraged us, some chimed in, as we move forward boldly in life.

Not long after, the letters came. One from an upset student and other from the Foundation, ordering the school to create a policy that censors speeches for “any reference to faith.” They also asked that Pastor Dupree be banned from speaking at “any other graduation or any other school-endorsed event.” A week later, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) came to the pastor’s defense, warning the school not to change its policy over some “widespread misapprehension of First Amendment law.” “WILL is interested in the First Amendment issues raised by this incident and concerned by any attempt to exclude speakers based on their point of view,” President Richard Esenberg wrote.

For now, Appleton officials have resisted the urge to police graduation speech. If they do, Pastor Dupree is ready. His father served in the Army, his wife served in the Navy, his daughter serves, and he served. If there’s one thing he’s prepared to fight for, it’s freedom.

Originally published here.

SPLC: Coming Soon to a Voting Booth Near You

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has been quieter than usual since its blockbuster scandal rocked the liberal world. Now the group is slowly coming out of hiding, and staffers like Nancy Abudu are trying desperately to make up for lost time. If her latest attack against Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is any indication, nothing at the Poverty Palace has changed. Including, the state would tell you, its approach to the facts.

Now that it’s “hate lists” are completely discredited, SPLC is apparently venturing out in a new area: voting rights. Last month, the Montgomery headquarters announced that it was creating a Voting Rights Legal Team — with about the same level of integrity Americans have come to expect from an organization knee-deep in systematic racism and bigotry.

For their first hit job, Abudu didn’t stray far from home. The deputy director of SPLC’s project took aim at the organization’s state for supposed voter suppression — a charge John Merrill would have a good laugh at if he weren’t so annoyed. “You know,” he told our listeners on “Washington Watch,” “they’re entitled to their own opinion, but they’re not entitled to their own facts.” And those facts tell a far different story than what Abudu suggested in a wildly inaccurate op-ed in the Montgomery Advertiser.

To anyone paying attention in Alabama, the suggestion that state leaders are intentionally suppressing voter registration is almost too ridiculous to repeat. For four years, five months, and two days, Merrill said, “we’ve made a concerted effort… to ensure that each and every eligible U.S. citizen as a resident of Alabama is registered to vote [and] has a photo ID.” They’ve traveled to all 67 counties each year, he explained. They go to festivals, events, and other activities to promote voter registration. They even created a mobile application so that Alabamians can register to vote on the computer or on their phones. Then, of course, there’s the Board of Registrar’s Office. “It’s open each and every day. The courthouse is open in every county in the state, and we ensure that we provide a photo ID or the opportunity to register to vote for any citizen that wishes to register [who] is qualified to do.”

The idea that his staff or anyone in the state is actively trying to turn people away from their civic duty is preposterous. In fact, Merrill explains, Alabama has been such a success story that officials have been invited to Congress to testify twice about the great work they’re doing. And why not? Since his time in office, the state’s registered a whopping 1,278,824 new voters. “We now have a state record, 3,491,599 registered voters in Alabama. Those numbers are unprecedented and unparalleled in the history of our state,” Merrill says proudly. But there’s more. “[W]hen you compare our per capita to every other state in the union, we surpass every other state in the union when it comes to voter registration and photo.”

If SPLC is insinuating that Alabama is intentionally targeting minorities, they’ll have a tough time proving it. Ninety-six percent of all eligible African-Americans in the state of Alabama are registered to vote. If Morris Dees’s old group is being honest, what SPLC is most upset about is that Merrill and his team have cracked down on the rampant fraud plaguing Alabama. While Democrats benefit from a slow and duplicative system, the 53rd secretary of state in Alabama says: not on my watch. “You also need to know that we removed more than 780,000 people from the voter rolls because those people have moved away, they passed away, or they’ve been put away, and whenever that happens, they need to come off the voter rolls.”

Even so, Alabama still broke voting records in the state for everything from the presidential primary in 2016 to the general election and the midterms in 2018. “Voter registration is important,” he agreed, “but voter participation is better.” Fortunately for his state, there’s both. “I am proud to ensure that in Alabama, we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.” That’s clearly disappointing to SPLC!

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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