Wisconsin: A Frustrating Legislative Session for Pro-Lifers

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

State capitolUnless something odd happens, the current state legislative session is over this week. Unless the Governor convenes a special session or the legislature calls for an extraordinary session, the legislators will go home this week and begin campaigning for the fall elections.

I started in this work nearly 17 years ago. That means I’ve endured 8 two-year sessions of our state legislature.  You start thinking you’ve seen it all, especially after the 2011-2012 session when we had weeks of the state capitol being closed because of tens of thousands of protestors swarming the building.  I really figured that would be the most bizarre session I—or anyone else, for that matter—would ever be involved with.

However, in my opinion, this legislative session tops even that session.  Words I would use to describe this session include “incredible,” “unreal,” “disappointing,” and “maddening.”

The session began in early January 2013, following the 2012 fall elections.  Governor Walker was beginning the third year of his four-year term.  The Republicans had majorities in both the Senate and the Assembly.

Whichever party has the majority controls the respective house.  That means Republican leadership has control in both the Assembly and the Senate.  That majority determines the committee to which bills are assigned, has input on which bills get hearings and committee votes and certainly determines which bills get to the floor for a full vote on passage.

Frankly, to a large degree it’s fair to say the Republicans “own” state government right now in Wisconsin.  If pro-family, pro-life, pro-liberty bills don’t get passed, it’s pretty safe to say Republicans didn’t want them passed.

And that is precisely why I find this legislative session the most frustrating of all the sessions I’ve been involved with.  Unless something dramatic happens in the next couple of days, at least 3 solid pro-life bills will die in the Republican-controlled state senate.  Assembly Bill 216 would keep taxpayers from having to pay for the abortions of state employees and would also provide a narrow religious exemption for churches and certain other religious organizations regarding health insurance.  Right now, it is illegal for insurance companies in Wisconsin to sell health-insurance coverage that does not include a fully array of contraceptive drugs and devices, some of which cause early abortions.  Assembly Bill 216 would permit insurance companies to write policies for churches and other religious organizations that do not cover contraceptives, if the church or organization wanted such a policy.

ImageAssembly Bill 217 would ban sex-selective abortions—abortions sought simply based on the sex of the baby.  Assembly Bill 206 authorizes the production and sale of a Choose Life Wisconsin specialty license plate.  The proceeds from the sale of this plate would go to Wisconsin’s wonderful Pregnancy Resource Centers—places where women receive real help during crisis pregnancies—help that focuses on both the unborn baby and the health and well-being of the woman.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald

In addition, Republican Senators have killed a bill that would put a process in place for the development, adoption, and implementation of state model academic standards, a process that would prevent a repeat of the Common Core State Standards disaster we’re all living through right now.All four of these bills had solid support in both houses.  In fact, the 3 pro-life bills all passed in the State Assembly.  All that was necessary for them to become law was for the Senate to vote on them and send the bills to the governor.

Instead, all 4 bills are dead, in spite of ongoing, repeated, and aggressive efforts by outside groups to get them on the senate floor for a vote.  Senate Republican leadership has blocked them, determining them to be unnecessary, unimportant, messy, divisive or something.  We’ve heard all kinds of reasons for these bills dying.  We’ve heard whining about its being an election year and insinuations that the Governor doesn’t want them and recently that the Senate leadership says they don’t have enough Republican votes to pass them.

What I know is in a session where any reasonable person would assume these bills would all pass, they have not passed. They remain buried in the Republican controlled Senate.  And yes, that makes this session one of the most bizarre, if not the most bizarre, I’ve ever been part of.  It’s maddening, frustrating, and downright reprehensible and inexcusable.

This Saturday, March 29, is HOBBY LOBBY DAY: Show Your Support for Religious Freedom

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard two very important religious liberty cases - Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius. The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, are taking a stand against the HHS mandate, a controversial portion of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, that forces employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives to their employees against their firmly held religious convictions. Both companies face fines of up to $100 per day per employee if the mandate is upheld.

The SCOTUS decision on these cases is not expected until at least June.  Family Research Council provides a summary of the SCOTUS hearings HERE.

This Saturday, March 29, is national “Hobby Lobby Day.”  Show your support for the Greene family and others who are courageously taking a stand for religious freedom.

HOW YOU CAN SHOW YOUR SUPPORT:

  1. Make a purchase from Hobby Lobby on Saturday, March 29 (on-line or in the store). go shopping with friends!  Say “thank you” with a card from your family; make your own, or download and print one HERE.
  2. Change your Facebook profile picture to show your support.  Get your “twibbon” HERE.
  3. Do you have a Twitter account? Tweet your support using hashtags #HobbyLobbyDay starting now and throughout the day on March 29th!
  4. Update your Facebook cover using the graphic HERE.
  5. Pray for a positive outcome from the SCOTUS decision for these companies, and for religious liberty in the United States.

Your Wisconsin Election WAKE-UP CALL

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

So, do you know who is on your ballot for the upcoming election?  If that question takes you by surprise, please allow this commentary to be your wake-up call on this important issue.

While thankfully we don’t have never-ending elections like we did a couple of years ago, 2014 is an election year, meaning in Wisconsin we have both spring and fall elections.  The election on Tuesday, April 1, is our annual Spring Nonpartisan General Election.

Rather than a being a yawner, this should be one of the most important elections each year.  This is the election when we elect to office those whose decisions most directly affect our individual and family lives.   On Tuesday, April 1, citizens across this state will be voting for such offices as city mayors, city council members, county board supervisors, town and village board members, and school board members.  Some areas will see contested municipal judge races and a few will have contested circuit court judge races.

When we have big elections such as the one coming this November when we will be electing a governor and lieutenant governor, all of our state assembly, half of our state senate, a new attorney general and all of our congressional delegation, many people get at least a little interested and involved.  Sad to say, it’s way too often a different story for these spring local elections.

ImageBut consider the decisions these local officials make.  They determine the assessed value of your home and property which figures into how much you pay in property tax.  They determine what you can and cannot do with your property.  They determine when and how roads will be built and maintained.  They make decisions about curriculum in your local public schools, about what surveys will be administered, and how much school employees will be paid—using your tax dollars.  They set the rules for whether or not sexually oriented businesses can move into your community and how many liquor licenses will be issued.  They’re the ones who establish contracts with organizations such as Planned Parenthood. They hire the people who make up police and fire departments in your community and those who make sure the water is safe to drink.

That’s an incomplete list, to be sure. But I hope it gives you the proof you need so you understand that truly local government is the level of government that most directly impacts you and your family—every day in a multitude of ways.

The election on Tuesday, April 1 is important.  In these elections, we’re often voting for people we know.  On the ballot in my community are 3 people from my church. In local elections we frequently vote for friends, acquaintances, fellow church members, family members, neighbors.  This should be the most important, not the least important election for us.

To find out what races and candidates will be on your ballot on Tuesday, April 1, you can either call your municipal clerk or visit myvote.wi.gov online.  Both sources will give you the information you need.  Many local newspapers also print the ballots the Thursday or Friday before the Tuesday election.

Once you know who is on your ballot, you need to make sure you find out what they stand for.  It’s not too late to do that. It’s not too late until the polls close on Tuesday, April 1—which, by the way, is 8 p.m. statewide.

You can learn about the candidates by calling them directly—at home—because most don’t have offices for local elections.  Ask them questions about why they are running, ask about issues you are concerned about, find out about their view of government, their background.  Most local candidates today have websites. Check them out.  Read the newspaper. Listen to the radio. Watch your local cable channel. Go to forums.  Read literature they may be mailed or dropped off at your house. Call friends whom you trust and who you know are following local politics. The bottom line is it’s up to us as citizens to get educated on the candidates so we can vote our values.

Do yourself, your family and your community a favor.  Get Tuesday, April 1 plugged into your electronic calendar.  Circle it on your refrigerator calendar.  Call friends and family members and make sure they, too, are ready to vote on Tuesday, April 1—and to truly vote their values by voting for people who will represent them well right in their own communities.  Ignorance is no excuse.  Let’s all be the Christian citizen and example we should be.

Selling Out Independence of Single Women; Creating a Boogeyman for a Vote

Today’s op ed published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Julaine Appling, Wisconsin Family Action president:

“By now, we are all painfully familiar with the refrain “war on women” from those on the left. Contrary to what they want us to think, liberal progressives are actually the ones waging a war on women with policies bent on making women — particularly single women — dependent on government. You may be surprised by the brilliance of their agenda.

Single-MomsConsider the liberal policy of excessive business regulations. It is not easy for anyone to raise the capital necessary to start a new venture, but it can be especially difficult for women for a number of reasons. When legislators pile regulatory policies on start-ups, they raise the cost of doing business, make compliance and reporting a nightmare and limit profitability for women trying to pursue the dream of owning their own company.

Then consider the high taxes that diminish the family’s bottom line, often eliminating the option for women who want to stay home with their children. Instead, to make family ends meet, moms often are compelled to go into the workforce — at least part time — which frequently puts a strain on their families and marriages.

Wisconsin Family Action has done a rather detailed analysis — to be published soon — of government benefits for single mothers compared to married mothers, and by our cautious calculations, the state and federal governments pay working single moms in Wisconsin approximately $31,000 per year to not marry the working father of their children. From an economic standpoint, government encourages single moms to remain single and incredibly dependent on government welfare, which, incidentally, could change at any time, significantly affecting their monthly income. Policies that essentially pay single moms to remain single condemn women and children to poverty rather than help them become strong and independent.

regret abortion2Liberals are adamant that unregulated, taxpayer-funded, elective abortions at any time during pregnancy is a woman’s right. Yet abortion comes with great risk to a woman and is sometimes accompanied by years of physical, psychological and emotional issues. Keeping a minor girl’s reproductive health information from her parents is dangerous — even medically — for the girl. Opposing parental consent for a minor girl to have an abortion leaves girls at the mercy of abortion clinic staff.

Fighting efforts to have women get an ultrasound prior to an abortion limits information and choice for women. Perhaps most ironically, actively working to make women dependent on government for abortion and contraception effectively puts women’s so-called reproduction rights at the mercy of the appropriations power of the legislature. These policies are the real war on women, yet liberals have vigorously and aggressively supported these policies over the years.

Conservative policies, on the other hand, respect individual liberty — for men and women — and encourage entrepreneurship, job creating, saving, wealth creation and pro-family, pro-life initiatives. Why then accuse conservatives of waging a war on women?

It is really no secret. Liberals desperately want the significant voting bloc of single women in America who lean Democratic. It is a large but sometimes inactive voting bloc, which means liberals need to create a boogeyman for single women in order to galvanize their vote, particularly in an off-year election. Thus we end up with the ominous, but wrongly-attributed, war on women rhetoric from Democrats.

There is a real war being waged on women, but it is in fact the work of liberals who want to make women dependent on government and who are willing to sell out the independence of our women for the price of a vote.

Julaine Appling is president of Wisconsin Family Action, a statewide organization dedicated to strengthening, preserving and promoting marriage, family, life and liberty in Wisconsin.”

 

Religious Freedom Goes Before SCOTUS; Sebelius v Hobby Lobby

 Religious freedom is under attack like never before. 

“The freedom of religion is the ability to live your life according to the religious teachings of your choice. However, President Obama has repeatedly expressed his support for the freedom of worship, not the freedom of religion. His HHS mandate is a byproduct of his truncated view of religious liberty and the First Amendment.” – Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president

ImageOn Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court of the United States will be hearing two very important cases; both are challenging the HHS regulations coming from Obamacare concerning the mandate that employers provide coverage for services to which they are morally opposed (abortion-causing drugs, sterilization, contraception).

Read Sebelius v Hobby Lobby HERE.
Read Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp v Sebelius HERE

The future of religious freedom is at stake.

>>>>>Read more HERE
>>>>>Click HERE to listen to WFA president Julaine Appling discuss this very important issue as she hosts WVCY’s weekly radio program Home Front.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  • Pray for a favorable outcome of the challenges to the HHS regulations.
  • Pray for the future of religious freedom in America.
  • Pray for both Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties and their attorneys as they stand on biblical principles and fight for religious liberty in two very important cases that affect us all.
  • Show your support for their courageous stand by joining and sharing #HobbyLobbyDay!

Here’s how:
1. Change your profile photo to show your support!:http://ow.ly/uIQEP
2. Shop Hobby Lobby on March 29th and say “thank you” with a card from your family! http://ow.ly/uMUH5
3. Share a picture of your shopping trip using #HobbyLobbyDay hashtag on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

The Power of Deception; Ousting God in America

 
“Everyone knows that race and gender are social constructs.”  That’s what I was told recently in a discussion involving whether or not it should be legal in Wisconsin for same-sex couples to adopt children.  Following that statement was one indicating that people who didn’t believe that were intellectually deficient.  
 
ImageAfter I was told I wasn’t very bright, I was told that physiology had nothing to do with parenting.  That reducing parenting to genitalia was, well, stupid.  Of course, I had not reduced parenting simply to body parts. Rather, I had made statements such as “the magic in parenting and child-rearing isn’t the number two but rather the complementarity the genders—male and female—bring to the effort”; and “no matter how hard two women try, they cannot be a dad to a child; and no matter how hard two men try, they cannot be a mom to a child.” Simply put, this discussion was a powerful reminder about the power of deception. 
 
People who refuse to accept the authority of Scripture are easy prey for any lie and any perversion.  There really is no stopping point—even to the point of people creating alternate realities in which they try to live.  Doing so forces them to deny the obvious, to reject the real world and the very real people that God has created.
 
How does the rejection of Scripture happen at a cultural level? The denial of the Bible as a legitimate authority in our society is no longer relegated to ivory towers on college campuses; it is now becoming alarmingly and dangerously pervasive.
 
It takes time for such a cultural shift to happen—and I’m quite sure there is no hard and fast beginning date.   Perhaps we can go to 1925 when the now infamous Scopes trial took place in Tennessee, where the teaching of evolution in that state’s public schools was deemed illegal and was challenged by the ACLU in a set-up lawsuit.  While the Tennessee Supreme Court ultimately upheld the law that the state legislature had passed, the trial highlighted the growing controversy over the authority of the Bible on origins.  This issue culminated in 1968 when the US Supreme Court ruled that laws such as Tennessee’s were unconstitutional because their primary purpose was religious.
 
ImagePerhaps it dates to the early 1960s, when the US Supreme Court ruled in landmark cases that “school-sponsored” Bible reading and prayer were unconstitutional. Moving forward, many schools also stopped displaying the Ten Commandments.
 
The decade of the 1960s tested much of the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of our nation.  With the presence of the Bible and its teachings less prevalent, less obvious, especially in our schools where students were under compulsory attendance laws 6-7 hours a day, more and more students began to question what they were hearing at home and in their churches.  College professors were growing bolder; new teachers came to public school classrooms filled with “make love; not war” and “anti-establishment” ideas emblazoned in their thinking.
 
Soon divorce became as easy as declaring one’s unhappiness and walking away.  The family unit began fracturing. 
 
The family, throughout history, has been the main means of the generational transmission of Christianity, the main way the Bible has been read and taught to the next generation.  When that family unit breaks down and life becomes much harder to do as a single parent, much of this transmission goes away.  And when very little to nothing of the Truth of Scripture is taught in the schools the kids attend, when the Bible and Christianity are mocked in the media and entertainment worlds, the influence of the authority of God’s Word becomes lost in a society.  Frankly, it becomes irrelevant, a joke, a myth believed only by those whose intellect is weak, and those who do believe it are targeted as hateful and bigoted.
 
Once you deny a Creator, it’s really not such a big leap to denying that there is distinctly male and female and that these two genders are solely responsible for the propagation of and care for the next generation of humans.  A fabricated, unreal world that sees both humans and all of the universe as being in the image and mind of man replaces the simple but profound truth expressed as “In the beginning God” and “in the image of God.”

Recognizing the Real War on Women – the War on Everyone

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling:

I agree.  There is a war on women.  But it’s not being waged by conservatives who are trying to pass pro-life legislation. The very real war on women is being waged by liberals and progressives with policies that harm women.

ImageFor starters, let’s talk about the excessive regulations on businesses that liberal progressives love. Such policies send a clear signal to women in general—we don’t want you starting a new business.  It’s not easy for anyone to raise the capital necessary to start a new venture, but it can be especially hard for women.   When regulatory policies heap on, they raise the cost of doing business, make compliance and reporting a nightmare, and basically make it impossible for women to pursue their dream of owning their own company. This is the real war on women.

And what about high taxes that liberal progressives keep wanting to raise even higher? Raising taxes takes away from many women the option of staying home with their children if they want to.  To make family ends meet, they are often compelled to go into the workforce—at least part-time, requiring finding care for their children, adding additional responsibilities to their already very busy schedules and often putting a strain on their marriage.  This is the real war on women.

ImageAnd how about the constant encouragement to have children out of wedlock? By paying women between more than $35,000 per year to not marry the father of their children, liberals are keeping women dependent on government, which in a very real sense enslaves them.  Government knows, as do the rest of us, that the fastest way to put a woman in poverty is for her to either divorce or have a baby and not be married.  Policies that pay women to not marry before having children condemn women to poverty rather than helping them become strong and independent.  This is the real war on women.

What about wanton spending, spiraling debt, a poor business climate in general that liberals seem bent on maintaining?  These conditions, aggravated by policies that ensure more of the same, make it harder than usual for men to get a job—or keep a job—that pays a wage that will support a family.  Unemployment creates little to no incentive for men to get out and look for a job.  Unemployed men are not very attractive to women.  Is government’s plan to make sure women don’t get married?  Is this another way to keep women dependent on the state, wards of welfare, slaves to the system?  This is the real war on women.

ImageAnd finally, let’s talk about how liberals encourage women to kill their preborn babies.  The ongoing push to encourage women to get rid of “inconvenient” pregnancies by aborting their babies must mean government really doesn’t care about women’s health.  Abortion comes with great risk to a woman—sometimes with years of guilt, psychological and emotional issues—and sometimes with real physical complications.  Turning a blind eye and deaf ear to minor girls who have become pregnant by an adult male is more than a little risky for the minor girl.  Resisting laws that require parental consent before a minor girl has an abortion sends the message that the girl just isn’t important. She’s just a commodity—something to be used and discarded.

Telling a woman who is pregnant that what she is carrying is just a blob of tissue, the product of conception, or a clump of cells is insulting and demeaning.   Fighting efforts to have women get an ultrasound prior to an abortion is also insulting and demeaning.  Defending sex-selection abortion, especially when more girl babies are aborted because of sex than boys, is about as dehumanizing as you can get.  And what about fighting against a law that outlaws so-called “telemed” abortions, where a doctor prescribes a potent medication that will create a chemical abortion—via Skype—without ever examining the woman?  I declare that all of these are the real, the very dastardly war on women.

Yes, there is a war on women; and it is coming from those who have no real sense of the greatness and uniqueness of this country, no understanding of and respect for the value of and sanctity of human life, no appreciation for what it means to be independent and self-governing.  Those who are ready to sell out America are more than willing to also sell our beautiful, talented, giving, creative women to the lowest bidder.

Fortunately, the entire history of America has not yet been written.  We have opportunities to turn this thing around, to head in a better direction.   It will take all of us doing our part and recognizing the real war on women—and recognizing it for what it is…a war on everyone, on everything that makes this country great.