Missouri Congressmen Seek Ban on Planned Parenthood Funding
Four members of Missouri's Congressional delegation have joined in introducing legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives which would put an end to federal funding of Planned Parenthood.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, is known as the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act. The legislation would prohibit the disbursement of federal "family planning" money to any entity that performs abortions, or provides funds to any other entity that performs abortions.
Missouri Congressmen Todd Akin, Billy Long, and Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler have signed on as co-sponsors of Congressman Pence's bill.
"It is morally wrong to end an unborn human life by abortion," says Pence. "It is also morally wrong to take the taxpayer dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to promote abortion at home or abroad."
Representative Pence points out that last year Planned Parenthood received more than $363 million in revenue from government grants and contracts. He says that during that same period Planned Parenthood performed more than 324,000 abortions.
Pence's bill is part of a concerted strategy to halt all federal funding of the abortion industry at home and abroad. Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey has also introduced legislation known as the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." It would make longtime anti-abortion funding restrictions such as the Hyde Amendment a permanent part of federal law.
"In just two years, President Obama and his allies in Congress have established multiple new pipelines to subsidize abortion and abortion providers," says Congressman Smith. "These setbacks underscore the urgent need for enactment of a lasting, government-wide ban on abortion funding--a ban that would endure no matter who is in the White House." Smith's bill would also cut off federal subsidies for abortion included in President Obama's recently passed health care legislation.
Congressman Pence deplores the fact that nearly one-third of Planned Parenthood's $1 billion annual budget comes from the federal government. "Nearly 3500 abortions are performed every day in America. That's 3500 lives taken away, many on the government dime without the knowledge or direct approval of taxpayers. It's reprehensible and we cannot allow it to continue."
You can share your thoughts on this issue with your Congressman by using this link:
Judge John Roll: "A Man of Heroic Virtue"
The conservative and Christian legal community has joined the people of Arizona in mourning the death of U.S. District Judge John Roll. Judge Roll was one of the six people killed during the recent mass murder in Tucson, Arizona, in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded.
Judge Roll was appointed to the federal judiciary by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, and had been serving as chief judge of the District of Arizona since 1996.
"John Roll was a great lawyer, sound jurist, and a long-time friend," said Alan Sears, President of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian legal organization headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona. "His untimely death is a huge loss for America's judicial system and for all of us personally."
"One consolation we have in our grief is that because of John's fervent love for the Lord, he is right now rejoicing in the loving presence of His Creator," Sears added.
Matt Bowman, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, worked for Judge Roll for a period of time as a law clerk. Bowman says Judge Roll was a man of impeccable character.
"Judge Roll was a fervent and humble Catholic, and an ideal husband, father, mentor, jurist, and statesman," Bowman says. "For what it's worth, I believe Judge Roll displayed literally heroic virtue in his serving of God in his profession and his consistent, daily display of care and courtesy for the value of every person he encountered."
Carl Anderson, the leader of the Knight of Columbus, expressed "profound sadness" at Roll's death. Judge Roll was a member of the Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, a fraternal order of Catholic laymen.
"We feel a tremendous sense of loss at Judge Roll's death, and for all, young and old, who lost their lives in this attack," Anderson shared. "At times like this, it is tempting to respond with anger, and for some, to attempt to use this trajedy to stoke the fires of division. What we need in the United States is not division...not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another."
Judge Roll had just left Catholic Mass, which he attended daily, prior to attending the public event at which he was shot.
Legislation to Battle Human Trafficking Filed in Missouri House
Legislation has been filed in the Missouri House of Representatives to strengthen the state's laws regulating the human trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. The proposal, filed by Representative Anne Zerr of St. Charles, would broaden the scope of Missouri's human trafficking statutes to more effectively prosecute human trafficking enterprises.
The Missouri Legislature enacted a law in 2004 advanced by former Senator Joan Bray which created the crimes of trafficking for the purposes of forced labor and involuntary servitude. It also established the crimes of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation of an adult, and sexual trafficking of a child. Much of the language was borrowed from the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act adopted by the U.S. Congress in 2000.
While the law approved by the Missouri Legislature in 2004 was a good start, it was geared to the relationship between human trafficking and "commercial sex acts," or prostitution. The legislation introduced by Representative Zerr also addreses the relationship between human trafficking and the production of pornography, including child pornography. It also encompasses the connection between human trafficking and the "sexual performances" conducted in sexually oriented businesses such as nude dancing establishments.
The legislation not only addresses instances of involuntary servitude and sexual slavery through force, kidnapping, or coercion, but also through fraud, deception, blackmail, or causing or threatening to cause financial harm to another person. The legislation targets not only those engaged in human trafficking, but also those who benefit financially from participation in such activities.
Representative Zerr's proposal, House Bill 214, places a strong focus on the victims of human trafficking. While the present law includes the requirement for the payment of restitution to the victim, it is not specific. The new proposal establishes mandatory minimum restitution to the victim of $100,000, plus "an amount determined by the court necessary for the mental and physical rehabilitation of the victim and any child of the victim."
The legislation also empowers a victim of trafficking to pursue a civil action in court against their perpetrators to recover damages sustained by the victim. The
Attorney General is also authorized to seek civil penalties against individuals engaged in human trafficking and against human trafficking enterprises, with the money derived used to pay further restitution to the victims of trafficking.
Under Representative Zerr's proposal, the Missouri Department of Public Safety will be encouraged to develop training programs to assist state and local law enforcement officials in identifying victims of human trafficking. Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors will be required to report potential victims of trafficking to state social service authorities and juvenile justice authorities, where applicable.
The latest Trafficking in Persons Report of the U.S. Department of State estimates that a minimum of 12.3 million people are subject to commercial sexual servitude or forced labor at any time. While there has been much attention given to international commercial sexual exploitation of children including child prostitution, child pornography, and "child sex tourism," many fail to realize that human trafficking and sexual slavery involving Americans is a domestic problem as well.
The website of the U.S. Attorney's office for the Western District of Missouri has issued indictments more than a dozen times in just the last three years involving human trafficking cases in the state of Missouri. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Kansas City has prosecuted more human trafficking cases than any other district in the United States. Donna Rice Hughes, the co-founder of Citizens Against Trafficking, believes that the exploitation of women by the pornography industry is a missing link in the battle against human trafficking. "Since the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in 2000, almost all federal sex trafficking cases involved prostitution," says Hughes. "The use of victims in the production of pornography has not been sufficiently investigated. I believe that this is an area that needs much more attention by activists and law enforcement."
Hughes says that teen girls, boys and women are recruited into the pornography industry with false promises of legitimate jobs at exaggerated pay rates. "Once these victims are recruited and arrive at the trafficking destination, they are being held there by means of debt bondage, physical force and psychological coercion. If the victim attempts to leave or speak out against the industry, they are physically and emotionally threatened."
The human trafficking legislation introduced by Representative Zerr was originated by and developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council in close collaboration with the Missouri Catholic Conference and Attorney General Chris Koster.
Please be praying that this year's session of the Missouri Legislature will give emergency attention to this most tragic issue. House Speaker Steve Tilley has already declared that addressing this subject is a priority of House leadership.
The enslavement of women and children for sexual purposes is one of the gravest assaults on human dignity prevalent in our fallen world today. The cries of countless victims need to be heard in the halls of government.