Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) - Pro-life Democrat now famous for caving in to pro-choice ObamaCare

By: Brian Sikma

Mike Fichter, the executive director of Indiana Right to Life, and the chairman of the IRTL PAC, has made news lately with his PAC’s decision to adopt a no-Democrat endorsement policy. The board of the PAC voted to end the organization’s practice of endorsing Democrat as well as Republican candidates that are pro-life. The American Spectator ran a lengthy editorial highlighting the PAC’s decision and how it relates to the overall debate unfolding in the pro-life community after Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) flip-flop on ObamaCare.

The Right to Life organizations that form a key part of the broader pro-life movement have, on the whole, worked to stay non-partisan in their approach to politics. Because the pro-life movement rightfully transcends political parties, it has been difficult in recent years for some in the movement to see the need to become more hard-line in their political activities. Although fewer in number, pro-life Democrats have been an important part of state and federal legislative strategies since the pro-life battle began in 1973. Pro-life Republicans often provide the majority of the votes needed to deliver on a pro-life bill or amendment, but even when they are the majority party, the handful of pro-life Democrat votes that are in a chamber can mean the difference between victory and defeat.  

Since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, and as control of the Indiana House of Representatives has shifted back and forth over several cycles, it has become increasingly apparent that when Democrats are in the majority, the value of the pro-life members of their party decreases. Because the rank-and-file pro-life Democrats often vote for liberal caucus leadership, or get out voted if they do choose to vote their conscience in leadership elections, an increase of Democrats in any legislative body, even if they are pro-life, spells doom for pro-life legislation.

In adopting a no-Democrat endorsement policy, IRTL PAC has really done the only thing it could have done to maintain a forward-thinking, smart political strategy to advance its values and principles. While it is unfortunate that Democrats, once in power, cannot be relied upon to even bring some pro-life measures up for a vote, let alone pass such legislation, that stark political reality should be acknowledged by pro-life leaders across the country. The Democrat party of today is even more liberal than it was when the pro-life movement began, and its heavy-handed tactics which are evident at both the state and national level justify a complete rejection of the party by a movement defined by principle and not party affiliation.


In November the three Republican state Senate candidates in District 17 completed questionnaires from the Allen County Right to Life seeking information about their individual positions on a number of critical pro-life issues. The questions asked were straightforward and two of the candidates did a solid job of providing clear answers. Reviewing the final essay question, however, one would probably have to conclude that Jim Banks, an experienced pro-family and pro-life advocate with national experience, provided the most thorough and persuasive explanation of his pro-life philosophy.*

Candidate Tom Wall, currently a Huntington County Commissioner, checked “unsure” in responding to two of the questions on his questionnaire. Each of the questions he marked this way were very simple questions dealing with two common pro-life issues faced by legislators around the country. Anyone familiar with the cursory elements of the pro-life position and philosophy would have been able to make a final judgment about his or her support of the position stated in the question.

The first area of uncertainty for Wall was the matter of conscience clause legislation that protects pharmacists from being legally liable for refusing to fill out prescriptions for abortion inducing products. This issue has come up in several states, including neighboring Illinois, and pharmacists have had to face a choice between violating their conscience and assuming serious liability for their refusal to comply with a consumer’s request. In Indiana legislation has been introduced in recent sessions of the General Assembly to protect pro-life Hoosier pharmacists from this morally and professionally difficult choice.

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By: Brian Sikma

It appears that now you can have the “perfect” baby as far as appearances are concerned as a result of work done at a Los Angeles fertility clinic.  Doctors at the clinic are using medical procedures that have been around for awhile they say to manipulate embryos and obtain the “right” combination of genes needed to get a specific hair or eye color or skin tone.  The corresponding cost of this manipulation is the creation of more embryos than are normally necessary for IVF.

The unethical creation of multiple embryos for experimentation is not the only thing that is disturbing about this new practice.  Encouraging parents to chose only those children that have the “perfect” combination of eye, hair and skin colors and tones overlooks the basic fact that a person’s identity is not bound up in the way they look.  Perhaps we should not be surprised that designer babies are being promoted as a good thing when for years we’ve been led to believe that looks matter more than character, the outward appearance and attractiveness more than the inward person.

It wasn’t all that long ago that a man stood at the Lincoln memorial and declared that he longed for a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character not the color of their skin. It appears that now that we have the technology to determine the color of one’s skin, to some extent, we are interested in abandoning ethical moors and running down a steep incline that leads into a morass of unwanted embryos and nascent human beings discarded because they didn’t have the genetic make-up that would yield the desired look.

Since Darwin developed the theory that some members of the human race were less human because they were less evolved, elements of mankind have struggled in some form or another to eliminate less desirable looking human beings in favor of those that supposedly look better.  That ghastly reasoning led in part to Hitler’s concentration camps and is being accepted in rough premise form at this fertility clinic in Los Angeles. Certainly the process is not as gruesome, but the ethical justifications behind each act are roughly parallel.  We should not seek to create and sustain only those human beings that meet our personal standards of beauty or good looks.

A child is not a play thing of it’s parents, it is a separate human being and entitled to full dignity as such.  This is not to say that parents do not have a right to raise that child the way they believe is proper, but it is to say that society should not view children as something to be toyed with and “designed” according to the whims of personal preference.

Indiana State House

Indiana State House

By: Brian Sikma

Partisanship is sometimes inevitable, and when it comes it isn’t always a bad thing.  Often we are admonished by various pundits, and even some in government, that we should seek bipartisan solutions to the problems that we face.  If a bipartisan solution can be found without sacrificing key principles and tenets, then that is an example of good bipartisanship.  Too often, however, bipartisan is a term used by moderates and liberals when they want conservatives to sacrifice principle for the sake of finding a solution.  It’s not that conservatives don’t have a solution, it is that there is a wide chasm between a solution premised on conservative principles and a solution based on liberal concepts of what is right and what is wrong.  True bipartisanship should be based on a common principle, not a compromise of principle.

One case in which it appears that bipartisanship should be very possible is the recent news that Planned Parenthood of Indiana violated, on at least two occasions, Indiana state law requiring that suspected cases of statutory rape be reported to authorities for investigation.  In choosing to put an abortion agenda ahead of a law abiding agenda, Planned Parenthood’s clinics in Bloomington and Indianapolis failed to serve the woman who came to them for help.  The incidents, which occurred as part of an undercover investigative journalism project conducted by an organization named Live Action, certainly raise questions about Planned Parenthood’s dedication to helping women and their dedication to operating within the bounds of applicable laws.

Sensing that the revelations about the Bloomington and Indianapolis clinics may be indicators of a more widespread malfeasance throughout the Planned Parenthood of Indiana network of clinics, State Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) called on the Attorney General and local prosecutors to investigate these two incidents.  Walorski also called on the Family and Social Services Administration, as well as any other state agency that transfers funds to Planned Parenthood, to suspend payments while the outcomes of the investigations are pending.

Rep. Walorski’s goal was to make sure that no organization that breaks state law and jeopardizes the safety of women is allowed to continue unchecked or receive taxpayer dollars unhindered.  One would think that there would perhaps be a common desire among the political parties in Indiana to achieve these relatively basic goals that focus on protecting taxpayers and, more importantly, protecting vulnerable Hoosier women.

This goal must not be bipartisan, unfortunately, because on Friday Dan Parker, the chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, responded to Walorski’s efforts by calling for a House Ethics Committee investigation into her fundraising activities.  At the heart of Parker’s spurious allegations is a blog post written by Rep. Walorski in December asking supporters to contribute to her campaign fund so she can continue to lead the battle against Planned Parenthood’s wrong and inappropriate actions.  In the highly partisan view of Dan Parker, Walorski violated House Ethics Rules-something that she emphatically did not do.

Instead of fabricating and manufacturing charges that have no merit, and recklessly calling for investigations of public officials who are striving to uphold the law and act in accordance to the rules that govern their activities, Dan Parker and the Indiana Democratic Party should take this opportunity to exhibit bipartisanship by joining Rep. Walorski in urging for the suspension of funding to Planned Parenthood and calling for a full investigation of the organization’s activities.  The goals of protecting women and taxpayers flow from the principles that we should protect all citizens, and especially those most vulnerable, from crime and we should make sure that those who receive state funds are acting in a law-abiding manner.

The wrong focus is to use this opportunity for blind partisan gain, the right focus is to stand up for principles and values that make Indiana a better, more prosperous and more moral state.

By: Brian Sikma

Today the Indiana Democratic Party inserted itself into the ongoing battle over holding Planned Parenthood of Indiana accountable for its misconduct. Dan Parker, Democrat State Party Chairman, issued a press release in which he tossed out baseless charges against Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) in an apparent attempt to discredit the messenger since the message is hard to argue with. If a legal investigation into Planned Parenthood of Indiana continues to move forward, the organization stands in serious jeopardy of incurring legal sanctions as a result of violations of state law uncovered late last year. Regardless of the full course of the legal investigation, however, Planned Parenthood has violated the public’s trust and may lose the funding that it receives from the state.

Parker called for the House Ethics Committee to look into the fundraising activities of Rep. Walorski because, according to Parker, a post on Walorski’s blog dated December 26th referred to her efforts to bring to account the actions of Planned Parenthood and requested that supporters contribute to her campaign fund. State law says that legislators may not actively raise money during the session, and House Ethics Rules say that legislators may not hold fundraising events between Organization Day and the close of session. According to Parker:

“This is the most blatant attempt to raise money during the prohibited period since the rules were adopted many years ago.”

Most blatant attempt to raise money during the prohibited period? First, the state law mandated prohibition on soliciting funds was not in effect on December 26th, that was the day the blog post went up. Second, the House Ethics Rule only applies to “events” not solicitations.

Instead of attacking Rep. Walorski for imagined violations of misinterpreted rules, Dan Parker and state Democrats would do better by calling for a full investigation of Planned Parenthood of Indiana as a result of the inappropriate and illegal misconduct on the part of Planned Parenthood. Standing up against actual violations of state law, and procedures that ultimately harm the women they are intended to protect, is a better way to use your political influence. Knee-jerk reactions and personal attacks do not serve anyone well.

Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski

Indiana State Representative Jackie Walorski

By: Brian Sikma

It looks like state higher education funds and public broadcasting money might not be the only funding cut from the Indiana state budget this legislative session. In the wake of two videos that showed Planned Parenthood of Indiana clinics carrying out procedures that violated or willfully skirted state laws designed to protect minors who may be the victims of sexual abuse, State Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Jimtown) has called for the de-funding of Planned Parenthood.

The two videos of Indiana Planned Parenthood clinics, one in Bloomington and one in Indianapolis, were released within weeks of each other late last year. The first video, which captured the actions of Bloomington clinic worker, prompted Walorski to call for the Attorney General to investigate the matter. After the second video was released showing a similar incident at an Indianapolis Planned Parenthood clinic, Walorski asked the Family and Social Services Administration to suspend any funding it may be sending to Planned Parenthood.

Already the publicity case she has built up against Planned Parenthood has paid off when a public outcry was raised against a speaking appearance by Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana. Cockrum was scheduled to speak to the St. Joseph County League of Women Voters at one South Bend location on Friday, January 9th, but public pressure forced the owners of the venue to cancel the event. Cockrum must now speak at a different location.

Rep. Walorski has done an excellent job of keeping the pressure on Planned Parenthood and those of us that support the pro-life position need to support her ongoing efforts in this battle. Planned Parenthood is having a hard time doing damage control and if pro-life advocates keep working hard, the longstanding friendly relationship between Planned Parenthood and various health-related state agencies could come to a close. Life is moving forward.

By: Brian Sikma

What if we were to learn that in the state of Indiana in 2007, 11,150 avoidable deaths occurred as the result of a very identifiable cause? What if this statistic were not a one-time statistic but instead an annual figure that changes only slightly from year to year? Think of all the potential that these people had but were never able to realize because they died as a result of something that was avoidable. Think of how our communities and neighborhoods were tragically deprived of these people’s full contribution to life.

If these deaths were the result of poorly engineered and unsafe roads, we could probably expect there to be a group of highly frustrated citizens forming a coalition to pressure local and state highway officials to undertake a massive redesign of our transportation infrastructure. Studies would be commissioned, expert engineers sought out for their opinion and government revenues appropriated for the purpose of building newer and safer roads.

What if these deaths were the result of school violence? We would see a public uprising as parents, citizens and school officials rightfully demanded immediate action. School regulations would change, more police officers would be deployed to schools and teachers and students would be trained in how to be alert for imminent attacks and how to respond if the nightmare did become reality.

What would be the result if these deaths occurred because of medical malfeasance? If health care professionals engaged in such egregious carelessness as to cause this many deaths, surely a day of reckoning would be called for them. Prosecutors would review cases to determine if criminal activity took place while grieving loved ones properly brought civil wrongful-death claims against those who so utterly neglected to live up to their professional duty.

Fortunately, none of the preceding three scenarios is true, yet the statistic still stands. You see, every year in Indiana 11,150 people lose their lives as a result of aborted pregnancies. True, these people are unborn, but that does not minimize the fact that every year we lose a resource that has great potential to contribute to the society that we live in. Every year we deprive ourselves of the creativity and ingenuity and joy these people could have brought to our lives. Every year we deny them the same basic, unalienable rights we demand that our government respect.

We cannot ignore the moral, economic and social implications of abortion in our state any longer. Those we are aborting could have been a part of the next generation of problem solvers who develop the vitally important solutions and cures that our society needs.

Identifying the cause of death for these 11,150 people is simple when we look at the statistics and reported data. Doing the right thing to solve this problem, however, is not necessarily easy. Women seeking abortions often do so as they struggle through a period of serious crisis in their lives. Unfortunately, our laws do not mandate that certain safeguards be in place to protect women as they ponder this life-and-death decision.

Our ultimate goal, if we are to protect human life from a legal standpoint, should be to pass legislation prohibiting abortion except in the very rare case in which the life of the mother is at stake. We must look toward that future while working now to make sure that women are given every opportunity to understand that by having abortions they are allowing medical professionals to kill children. Through the use of three-dimension ultrasound technology, the provision of medical services and the sharing of information, advocates of the pro-life position can do much to further the cause of protecting unborn life.

As we consider the human cost of abortion in Indiana, let us commit to graciously and courageously seeking to end this practice that hurts both women and their unborn children.

This column was originally published here and here.

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