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What Makes the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act a Good Law?

I found very interesting some of the arguments made by members of the U.S. House of Representative in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Those arguments reminded me of a debate I had on Amendment 1, the pro-life amendment on the ballot back in 2014. Much is revealed by the different approaches to the issue of life.

Getting to the Fundamental Issue

In 2005, a Jewish women’s political organization came to my legislative office to discuss Amendment 1. They said they appreciated my religious convictions regarding Amendment 1 but didn’t think I should allow my religious views to influence public policy.

I told them that I would be happy to speak with them about the issue without reference to my religious beliefs, so I suggested that if we could come to an understanding of what it was we were aborting, then we could more easily discuss the moral and ethical issues surrounding the medical procedure involved with abortion.

To that end, I asked them, “What is it we are aborting? Is it a human being?” To make a long story short, they said “it” was a “potential human being.”

I then probed the meaning of the word “potential.” I asked if, by potential, they meant there was a point during gestation in which the essential nature of that which had been conceived changed from something other than a human being into a human being. To bring clarity to the question, I then asked, “Although in every known instance of pregnancy a woman has delivered a child, a human being, by ‘potential human being’ did you mean a woman might deliver something else?”

Their answer, “Well, no. Of course not. What we mean is that under the Talmud, until a baby is quickened…” and it was at this point I cut them off. You see, they had turned to their religious beliefs to answer the fundamental question, “What does it mean to be human?”

Is Alleviating Pain Fundamental?

I share that story because, in supporting the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, we must not let the act’s opponents avoid the fundamental issue: Are we talking about a human being? In other words, is the bill good simply because we shouldn’t inflict pain on an unborn child, or is it good because we are talking about the death of an unborn child, whether he or she feels pain or not?

This is critical. If an unborn child could be painlessly given an anesthetic prior to the abortion, would that then make it okay? If pain is the only issue, then the answer is yes.

Why a Biblical View of Life Matters

In our effort to achieve a particularly good result, the pro-life community must not lose sight of its goal, namely, a restoration of a biblical understanding of what it means to be human, a view of humanness that can alone stand at all points in opposition to the various reasons given by abortion proponents for their view.

We cannot win the long war for life if we make our arguments only on the premises or grounds that abortionists get to set ahead of time. If all we can argue is “science,” then we’re not arguing on the only ground that will make a fundamental difference, long-term, in the argument.

I’m reminded of what Abraham Kuyper, a noted theologian and former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, said in the late 1800s:

There is no doubt then that Christianity is imperilled [sic] by great and serious dangers. Two life systems are wrestling with one another, in mortal combat. Modernism is bound to build a world of its own from the data of the natural man, and to construct man himself from the data of nature; while, on the other hand, all those who reverently bend the knee to Christ and worship Him as the Son of the living God, and God himself, are bent upon saving the “Christian Heritage.”

From the first, therefore, I have always said to myself,—”If the battle is to be fought with honor and with a hope of victory, then principle must be arrayed against principle; then it must be felt that in Modernism the vast energy of an all-embracing life-system assails us, then also it must be understood that we have to take our stand in a life-system of equally comprehensive and far-reaching power.

Similarly, respect for human life and abortion are “wrestling with one another” in what is truly “mortal combat” with respect to the unborn. Abortionists have a view of humanity that they have “constructed” in which they can decide when human dignity attaches. The pro-life community has a view of humanity grounded in the transcendent Creator God and human dignity is grounded in having been made in His image.

Consequently, “if the battle is to be fought with honor and with hope of victory” as Kuyper writes, then we must “take our stand” in a “life system” in which the pro-life’s fundamental principle is made to stand against that of the abortionists. We must never lose sight of that fact.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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District Judge Orders Stay on Tennessee’s Pro-Life Amendment 1

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp ordered a halt to a vote recount on an amendment that would remove the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution.

Judge Sharp had ordered the recount of the vote on Amendment 1 but granted the state’s motion to suspend the recount pending its appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on the appeal on August 2.

Eight voters, including the board chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, have challenged the outcome of the 2014 vote. Please be praying that the 6th Circuit will uphold this needed amendment, which allows the Legislature to enact protections for women and the unborn.

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Oral Arguments Set on Tennessee’s Pro-Life Amendment 1 Challenge

On August 2 in Cincinnati, judges at the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood abortion activists challenging the outcome of the 2014 election, particularly voters approving of pro-life Amendment 1.

It has been more than two years since Tennesseans approved pro-life Amendment 1 by a vote of 53 percent to 47 percent.

Please pray for a good outcome to this court case, George et al v. Haslam et al. As Tennessee Right to Life notes, without Amendment 1, the lives of countless unborn children could be lost and state laws protecting women and unborn children will be nullified.

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Tennessee Asserts Sovereignty on Amendment 1

As you probably know, the chair of Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee and some of its supporters filed a federal lawsuit this past summer to enjoin passage of Amendment 1, which voters adopted in November of last year. Planned Parenthood’s supporters argued the state Election Commission did not count the votes the way the state Constitution requires. However, in recent months the state took the fight to them and won a great victory in Court last week.

In September, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Mark Goins, Coordinator of State Elections, filed suit in the Chancery Court of Williamson County asking the state courts to declare whether the state had counted the votes correctly under the state Constitution.

I have written on this subject before, stating that the question of how the state Constitution is to be interpreted is a matter for the state courts to decide, not a federal court. But arrogant federal District Court Judge Kevin Sharp decided he would decide for Tennessee how its Constitution should be interpreted

Thankfully, the state essentially said, “Enough of that, Judge Sharp. We gave you a chance to do the right thing by declining to interpret our state Constitution, and you choose wrong. Now we’ll see the Planned Parenthood folks over in state court.”

This suit was a great exercise in giving recognition to the dual sovereignty that exists under our federal government.

States are still sovereign governments under the U.S. Constitution, and their courts have every bit as much constitutional authority to interpret the state and federal constitution, as do the federal courts. Of course, when the state Supreme Court disagrees with the U.S. Supreme Court, you have a problem, but not until then.

Tennessee’s Not Alone in Asserting Its Sovereignty

This legal point regarding state sovereignty was ably and rightly demonstrated last March when a single federal district judge ruled that all of Alabama’s probate judges had to start issuing same-sex “marriage” licenses. The Alabama Supreme Court stepped in and ordered all the probate judges who were not actually parties to that particular federal court lawsuit to continue following Alabama’s marriage law.

Liberals decried the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision, but that’s all they could do, cry. The Court was correct, and eventually the same-sex “marriage” advocates realized all they could do was wait to see what the U.S. Supreme Court would say in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

Just Say No to Federal Government Overreach

So back to the Amendment 1 lawsuit in state court. The abortion advocates moved the state court to dismiss the state’s lawsuit and, essentially asking the state court to defer to the federal court, to let the federal court handle the decision. To the credit of Judge Binkley, he said, “No thank you. The state is equipped to handle these kinds of cases, so we’ll just all proceed full speed ahead.”

That decision was as it should be. We can thank our Secretary of State, Election Coordinator, and Attorney General for asserting our state’s rights on this issue of state law. It was a creative way to tell the pro-abortion crowd that Tennessee is not going to let them use the federal government to dictate to us if we can find another way.

Now let’s hope our Attorney General will put on that same creative thinking cap to find a way to say to the federal government we’re not going to let you shove us around when it comes to refugee resettlement and to marriage, two issues that are looming as the legislature prepares to return for session in January.


David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.

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FACT President Applauds New Abortion Safety Regulations

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (May 19, 2015) —The following statement can be attributed to David Fowler, the President of The Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT) regarding new abortion regulations signed into law by Governor Haslam on Monday:

I applaud our Governor and state legislature for honoring the vote of the people of this state on Amendment 1 by enacting common sense protections for women seeking an abortion.

No life altering surgical procedure should be performed in this state without the patient knowing that the law ensures their safety and informed consent, and that is particularly true with abortion. We know that women considering abortion often make decisions under pressure and under the mistaken impression that they have no alternatives.

By requiring that women be provided basic information and an opportunity to reflect on that information, the value of the woman’s life and that of her unborn child are both affirmed.

The Family Action Council of Tennessee, which Fowler heads, was formed in 2006 by a group of citizens concerned about the growing negative impact of public policies on the family. FACT’s mission is to equip Tennesseans and their elected officials to effectively promote and defend a culture that values the traditional family, for the sake of the common good. For more information, visit FACTn.org.

Media Contact: Laura Bagby, Director of Communications  |  Office Phone: 615-261-1338  |  Email: laura.bagby@factn.org