What a tumultuous year. From an international pandemic that prompted physical isolation to protests and riots in the name of social justice and election integrity, we have undeniably experienced a shocking and troublesome year. Despite the attention-grabbing headlines of 2020, there was one human rights issue that received little attention. Tossed in the garbage like an old toilet paper tube, the topic of abortion didn’t command news headlines like Black Lives Matter or the presidential debates. This is truly a travesty since, as we know, abortionists and pro-choice activists didn’t take the year off. The lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent, unborn children were mercilessly snuffed out in the name of reproductive rights. But it wasn’t all bad. Despite the continued tragedy of abortion, 2020 also saw several major victories on the pro-life front that should give us hope for future generations. From political strides to scientific wonders, life is still winning.
In Charles Dicken’s classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he penned these simple words: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Truthfully, I can think of no better statement to summarize America’s and the world’s state of abortion in 2020. We’ve had highs and lows, ups and downs, but through it all, we have and must continue to remain relentless in our pursuit of justice for the most vulnerable among us. Today, we will take a brief look back at the past year from an abortion perspective. What went right? What went wrong? Where did we succeed? How did we fail? Here are the Life Line’s top five pro-life achievements and top five pro-life disappointments of 2020.
Top Five Disappointments
Argentina Legalizes Abortion
If you haven’t been paying incredibly close attention to international news over the past few weeks, this unfortunately disastrous decision might have slipped right past your radar. Tragically, it was ignored by many in the wake of the D.C. riots, but this event, too, is a devastating smear on our planet’s history. On December 30th, the Argentinian Senate passed legislation that officially legalizes abortion in the country, a verdict long pushed for by the so-called “feminist” movement in Latin America. After a hotly contentious debate that lasted through the night, the measure passed by a 38-29 vote with one abstention, meaning abortion is now legal through 14 weeks gestation in Pope Francis’s birthplace - in some cases, even after. This decision represents a turning of the tide in South America, a region that has long been a haven of conservative values. Supporters and opponents alike have been galvanized. The pro-choice movement touts it as a reproductive health victory, waving their symbolic green flags in the streets of Buenos Aires. The pro-life community in Latin America is not going down without a fight. As one speaker put it, “we are witnessing a defeat of life. But our convictions do not change. We are going to make ourselves heard.” This international event was a disappointing occurrence and yet another blemish on 2020’s resume.
Abortions Continue Throughout Pandemic
While Covid-19 cases continued to climb throughout the world, with total deaths now approaching 2 million, most elective surgeries were halted in order to reduce physical contact. However, Planned Parenthood and the big abortion industry made it clear that the barbaric destruction of unborn children does not take a hiatus. Despite the fact that nonessential businesses were shut down across the country, over 75% of states permitted elective abortions to continue in some capacity. Deemed “life-sustaining” by many governors across the nation, this practice of ending life ironically continued through the shutdown, clearly exposing Planned Parenthood’s true intentions and priorities in the process. In addition, the nation’s largest abortion provider illegitimately received $80 million in federal stimulus money from the government despite the fact that they were not eligible for the funds. The Paycheck Protection Program did not allow for an organization with such a large, well-funded organization to obtain the loans - but that didn't stop them from bypassing the system by applying and securing them illicitly. It wasn’t just coronavirus patients dying this year: unborn children once again died by the thousands, yet another deep scar in 2020.
New Jersey Codifies Roe v. Wade
While the Trump administration’s rise in 2016 coupled with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court in 2020 sparked hope that the disastrous abortion ruling of 1973 might be overturned, some states have pushed legislation forward to codify Roe. In October, Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed New Jersey’s Reproductive Freedom Act, a move that “explicitly ensures all New Jerseyans have the right to make their own personal health decisions when it comes to birth control and pregnancy-related care, including abortion.” In other words, it permits abortion on demand, for anyone, for almost any reason. By eliminating so-called barriers and “reaffirming choice,” the Garden State damned thousands of unborn babies to death. New Jersey pro-lifers continue to fight, but Governor Murphy’s signature was a huge setback to the movement.
Supreme Court Strikes Down Pro-life Law in Louisiana
The nine most powerful judges in the land handed down a number of questionable decisions over the course of 2020, but few caused consternation among pro-lifers like their ruling on June Medical Services LLC v. Russo. In June, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four liberal justices in striking down Act 620, a 2014 law passed by the Bayou State that required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles. The reason for the law was clear: protecting the health and safety of women in the event of a medical emergency arising from abortion complications. After all, tens of thousands of women die annually worldwide from abortion complications. Nonetheless, the court voted to strike down the law, citing precedent set by a previous ruling regarding a similar Texas law. Moreover, justice Stephen Breyer claimed that Act 620 “imposes an undue burden on a woman's constitutional right to choose to have an abortion." We mourn this decision and recognize it for what it is: a dangerous pronouncement that will likely send ripple effects throughout the nation in years to come. Under the guise of unnecessary obstacles and needless restrictions, the Supreme Court claims that the law interferes with reproductive rights. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry are willing to sacrifice safety for convenience all for the sake of money and the opportunity to terminate the lives of innocent children. We will continue to expose the truth of abortion - but the 5-4 vote on Act 620 left a massive stain on 2020.
A Pro-Choice Presidential Administration
On November 3, 2020, Americans went to the polls, and they decided that a pro-choice president would be a positive advancement in our nation - or at the very least that it wasn’t a dealbreaker. We won’t know specifically what immediate and long-term repercussions this monumental event will have on our nation’s most vulnerable population, but we do know what Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have promised in the way of so-called “reproductive rights.” Joe Biden has expressed support for Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand up through the moment of birth. Both he and his vice president vehemently oppose the Pain-Capable Abortion Act (the latter of which voted against it), which would prohibit abortions twenty weeks - when children can feel pain. Biden wants to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, thereby funding abortions with taxpayer dollars, and he has promised to only nominate radically pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court. The election of former vice president Joe Biden to the highest office in the land dealt a huge blow to pro-life efforts nationwide, and even across the globe, and it’s no secret that his administration will seek to expand access to the grisly practice that already takes the lives 600,000+ United States children annually.
Top Five Achievements
Pro-life, Adoptive Mother Confirmed to Supreme Court
Few events in 2020 gave more hope to the pro-life cause than the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court in September of 2020. After the tragic passing of Clinton appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Indiana native and former Seventh Circuit judge Barrett was confirmed in a razor-thin Senate vote that was mostly partisan. The 52-48 tally saw every Democrat vote in opposition while all but one Republican voted in her favor. Barrett’s beliefs and values were clear from the start, as she is an adoptive Christian mother rooted deeply in her faith. This caused consternation among many pro-choice advocates, who baselessly claimed she would allow her religion to negatively influence her discernment and threaten abortion rights in America. Despite being maligned by many, ACB overcame the odds to now stand as a pillar of justice, truth, and wisdom on the highest court in the land. The truth of the matter is that her beliefs are entrenched in the very same principles our nation was founded on - the very ones that permeate our Constitution. She stands for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. While many accuse her as unconstitutional in her opposition to abortion, they neglect the fact that abortion is decidedly not a right enshrined in the Constitution. Rather, our inalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence include the right to life, something Barrett will fight to protect. So we celebrate her confirmation as a beacon of light in a seemingly dark 2020, and as the Supreme Court now maintains a clear conservative majority, we hope, pray, and trust that Barrett will continually and faithfully seek to protect life in every Supreme Court decision she makes.
Little Sisters of the Poor Win in Court
Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court might have been partisan, but the summer victory for the Little Sisters of the Poor was anything but. A community of Catholic women that was founded two centuries ago, the Sisters seek to serve the elderly, the homeless, the sick, and the needy, and they have been heroes of hospitality throughout the coronavirus pandemic. This group of women has been in and out of court for nearly a decade, ever since the Obama Administration implemented an HHS mandate requiring all employers to provide contraceptives, pills, and abortion-inducing drugs in their healthcare plans. Unsurprisingly, due to the deeply-held convictions of the Sisters surrounding the issue of the sanctity of life, this mandate directly contradicted their beliefs. While the Supreme Court awarded them a minor victory in 2016 and the Trump administration granted them religious exemptions shortly thereafter, the Little Sisters of the Poor were still sued by New Jersey and Pennsylvania leadership over their religious objections. But this summer, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the Sisters were within their constitutional rights to keep contraceptives and abortifacients out of their healthcare plan. Not only was this a massive win for the nuns themselves, but it sets a precedent for how rights of conscience cases surrounding abortion should be handled. Plus, the 7-2 vote (which took place prior to Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation) reflected welcome bipartisanship, as justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer sided with the court’s five conservative judges. In a year full of discouraging moments, the Little Sisters’ victory stands out as a triumph for life.
Mexico Recognizes the Humanity of the Unborn
While Argentina moved closer to a society hostile to the unborn, Mexico did their part to help slow down Latin America’s rapid pro-choice radicalization over the summer. In July, the largest country in Central America rejected a monumental injunction that would have decriminalized abortion at 12 weeks of pregnancy, In a 4-1 ruling, the high court preserved the predominantly Catholic nation’s abortion prohibition. Legal in just 2 of Mexico’s 32 states, abortion is somewhat of a taboo topic in the nation, although recent lower court rulings have been slowly chipping away at pro-life protections. Feminist activists hoped the trend would continue at Mexico’s Supreme Court, but the justices voted against upholding the injunction because they believed such a decision would "greatly overstep the constitutional powers of this Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation.” While the vote was not ultimately cast on the grounds of morality and protection of the innocent and instead on the basis of a legislative technicality, the result is what counts. Some viewed this case as something akin to Roe v. Wade in how disastrous its lasting effects could be, so the decision seemed even more consequential. It was a refreshing piece of good news in a wildly tumultuous year.
Tennessee Protects the Heartbeat
If death is signaled by the ceasing of a heartbeat, why isn’t the start of one considered a life? That’s a question that states across the nation have been forced to reckon with as advanced technology continues to showcase the early age at which the heartbeat begins. This summer, Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessean General Assembly introduced, passed, and signed House Bill 77, a bill prohibiting abortion after 6 weeks gestation, which is when a heartbeat can usually be detected. The Volunteer State became the nineteenth in the nation to introduce some version of a bill seeking to protect the heartbeat. While many of these bills have faced obstacles in every phase from the committee to the governor’s desk, others have found success, and Tennessee is one of nine states whose heartbeat bill was signed by the executive branch. Granted, the bill continues to face an uphill battle; Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and other radical pro-choice organizations initially sued immediately after Lee signed the bill, prompting a federal judge to block parts of the bill. Nonetheless, it has been exceptionally encouraging to see politicians display a genuine concern for the livelihood of unborn children.
Miracle Babies Born Amidst Pandemic
What pro-life recap would be complete without celebrating the beautiful nature of childbirth! In 2020, we witnessed several unprecedented miracles, as children defied the odds to survive thanks to increased medical technology. In March, at the outset of the pandemic lockdown in the United States, a baby was born to a mother suffering from Covid-19. In order to protect the child, she was delivered while still encased in the amniotic sac and welcomed into the world - safe from the virus. A few months later, one of the smallest children on record was born when doctors in Texas delivered a 26 week-old, 2-pound preemie Gloria. After struggling early on, reports indicate that she is growing and thriving despite the difficult circumstances created by coronavirus restrictions. No matter the season, no matter the health crisis, life continues to thrive, giving us joyous reasons to celebrate in 2020.
BONUS: Trump Becomes First Sitting President to Attend March for Life.
Before we wrap up today’s edition of the Life Line, I want to take a moment to remind you of one more 2020 accomplishment and an upcoming event happening at the end of the month. On January 24, 2020, President Donald J. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to ever attend the annual March for Life at D.C. Full of hope and promise, Trump reminded us of his countless pro-life achievements throughout his presidency, and he painted a picture of a bright future in which life is valued and preserved. Truly, Trump’s actions throughout his time in office brought about many advancements to the pro-life cause. From decreasing abortion funding to protecting rights of conscience, it’s been four years full of kept promises. As the Trump administration prepares to depart the White House, we as pro-lifers solemnly await the arrival of an administration decidedly opposed to life. There will be work to do, and that work will be difficult. One way you can make your voice heard is by attending the 2021 virtual March for Life on Friday, January 29. Just nine days after Biden officially takes office, pro-lifers from across the nation will gather online to let our leaders know that we will not be silenced. While we regret the fact that the annual march will not occur in-person, we still have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For more information, visit www.march for life.org. Join the movement and fight for life - on January 29 and all throughout 2021.