April 5, 2017
This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
It’s Wednesday, April 5, 2017. I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.
NCAA "reluctantly" allows N. Carolina consideration for championships after bathroom bill compromise
Yesterday morning at 8:52 AM the N.C.A.A. Board of Governors released a statement. Its title,
“Position on HB2 Repeal”Show Full Transcript
The board of governors’ statement read this way,
“In August of 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors instructed the relocation of NCAA championships scheduled in North Carolina during the 2016-17 academic year because of the cumulative impact HB2 had on local communities’ ability to ensure a safe, healthy, discrimination-free atmosphere for all those watching and participating in our events.”
The statement then continued,
“Last week, the elected officials of North Carolina enacted compromise legislation that repealed HB2 and replaced it with a new law, HB142, that addressed a number of the concerns that led to the relocation of the NCAA championships. As with most compromises, this new law is far from perfect.”
Now at this point we have to skip several paragraphs to get to the most important statement of all. It comes in the end of the first page of the statement when we read,
“In the end, a majority on the NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting. The NCAA championships previously awarded to North Carolina for 2017-18 will remain in the state.”
The statement concluded by stating that the state of North Carolina, if granted any of these events in the future N.C.A.A. calendar, would be required to fill out a questionnaire on each indicating the protections that will be assured in terms of LGBTQ individuals. In Monday’s edition of The Briefing, I discussed the impact of the legislation adopted last Thursday in North Carolina and the meaning behind it. Majorities in both the House and the Senate there in the state had decided to repeal, that is to rescind, House Bill 2, the bill that had been referred to popularly and especially by the media in American culture as North Carolina’s bathroom bill, the bill that amongst other things required persons in the state in public facilities to use the bathroom that corresponded with the gender identified on their birth certificate.
House Bill 2 had also precluded cities and counties in the state of North Carolina from passing their own LGBT rights legislation. The new law known as House Bill 142 rescinded the bathroom requirement but also reserved to the state government the right to legislate or set policy on such questions. No policy is yet set subsequent to the passage of that legislation. The new bill also continued strictures on cities and counties from passing their own LGBT rights legislation at least until December of the year 2020, when at least some legislators explain it is expected the federal courts would have decided many of these questions.
The timing of the action last Thursday was clearly tied to upcoming deliberations by the N.C.A.A. A week previous, the head of the N.C.A.A. had indicated publicly, even as a public warning to the state of North Carolina, that the organization was just then in the process of scheduling postseason play–that is most importantly, tournaments and championships–through at least the year 2020, perhaps even 2022. The warning was evident in North Carolina: rescind the bill or find yourself receiving no N.C.A.A. locations for postseason play. Many corporations had also indicated actions against North Carolina, that is in terms of new business locations or expansions of existing businesses, also blaming it on House Bill 2. North Carolina’s Democratic Governor narrowly elected last November in largely a crusade against House Bill 2 had mentioned all of these issues in terms of his leadership in forging the compromise, which he signed into law within just hours of its passage in terms of the North Carolina legislature.
What makes all of this newly important was the statement released yesterday morning by the N.C.A.A., and what makes that statement all the more important is the way that the Board of Governors of the N.C.A.A. expressed their decision. I go back to it, the key word here is “reluctantly.”
“In the end,” said the statement, “a majority on the NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina by our committees that are presently meeting.”
That word “reluctantly” is particularly haunting. I wasn’t satisfied with the media coverage of the issue and went to the website of the N.C.A.A. to find the statement and to read it for myself. There it is. Most of the major media picked up the word “reluctantly” and for good reason. It stands out almost like a flashing neon sign in the midst of this statement. What should we read into that word “reluctantly”? It is a clear signal coming from the N.C.A.A. that what North Carolina’s legislature and Governor did on Thursday was the bare minimum necessary in order to meet the muster of the N.C.A.A. That’s extremely instructive. It’s instructive for one thing, the legislatures in other states that are considering similar legislation, but more than anything else it signals something we need to know in terms of the current cultural moment and the moral revolution. As we have seen increasingly, coercion is being brought by the advocates of that revolution in such a way that it amounts to bareknuckle political pressure. In this case, an organization that is supposedly about intercollegiate athletics has actually become a major engine in terms of driving the sexual revolution. And you’ll notice that it, like so many other factors in terms of driving this revolution, now intends to take no prisoners. This is the very bare minimum the Board of Governors signaled in order for them to reluctantly reverse their own decision.
Looking at this particular statement, there’s a second rather haunting question that comes to mind. And that’s this: where will this end? We’re watching an expanding moral revolution, expanding in terms of its scope and increasing in terms of its acceleration. The N.C.A.A. Board of Governors made this decision; again they released it at 8:52 AM yesterday. But where will the Board of Governors be three months from now, three years from now? This moral revolution will not end even with the initials we now articulate, LGBT and Q. Further initials will undoubtedly be added. Where will the N.C.A.A. be then?
The N.CA.A. here is now brazenly forcing the state of North Carolina to change its legislation. But the question is, where will the N.C.A.A. stand even on issues as basic as gender-specific sports? Rather central, we need to note, to the very idea of the N.C.A.A. and the very postseason tournaments that are in question. The very events currently being scheduled by this committee of the N.C.A.A., amongst those events will be future N.C.A.A. Division I men and women’s basketball tournaments. But if gender is simply a social construct and is endlessly fluid, then what sense does it make for the N.C.A.A. to hold to those outmoded notions of men and women’s sports as being understandable and separate? The N.C.A.A. has now brought significant pressure against the state of North Carolina to bow the knee to a sexual revolution. It has not entirely come to terms with itself, but at least we need to recognize this for what it is. It’s a form of undisguised hypocrisy.
One North Carolina Senator who had listened to The Briefing on Monday contacted me to indicate that his vote was not under the pressure of the N.C.A.A. or corporate interest, but rather in light of the fact that the state of North Carolina had a great deal at stake in terms of a lawsuit against the state and House Bill 2 that would be heard in the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the explanation was that the likelihood that liberal court would rule against the state and take the legislation out of the state’s hands was rationale enough for many legislators to vote for rescinding House Bill 2 in this compromise. That is certainly not an insignificant issue and could be of considerable tactical importance in terms of the responsibility of the North Carolina legislature. The Senator’s clarification is also helpful background information in understanding why so many Republicans who had voted for House Bill 2 also voted for the action last Thursday. That’s helpful.
But more instructive than anything else is the fact that the N.C.A.A. claimed on the front end and on the back end of the issue that they were central in terms of a driving force requiring the state of North Carolina to rescind the legislation. We also have statements made by many legislators and especially by the Governor of the state. We also have the straightforward timing of the decision last Thursday. It’s safe to say that the Governor of North Carolina and at least many legislators were driven in that timing by the understanding that the N.C.A.A. was just about to make decisions for future locations for tournament play.
But I begin and end on this issue with that word that appears in that paragraph lower in the N.C.A.A. Board of Governors’ statement,
“The NCAA Board of Governors reluctantly voted to allow consideration of championship bids in North Carolina.”
“Reluctantly.” That word is like a time bomb going off right before our eyes.
Trump admin cut funding for UN Population Fund over ties to forced abortion and sterilization in China
Next we turn to big news coming out of Washington, D.C., and it’s an action of the Trump Administration related to the question of abortion. As Josh Lederman reported for the Associated Press yesterday,
“The Trump administration said Monday it was cutting off U.S. funding to the United Nations agency for reproductive health,” under an abortion related provision in a law that Democratic and Republican administrations have used as a cudgel in the global culture wars.
Now what Lederman is writing about there is the fact that legislation adopted decades ago by the United States Congress requires the United States government to avoid funding any international agency that is involved in forced sterilizations or forced abortions. And the Trump Administrations has announced that it is withdrawing from this United Nations agency’s funding precisely because of links between the UN agency and the nation of China and China’s infamous one child only policy, which certainly includes forced abortions and coerced sterilizations. Lederman wrote,
“The U.N. fund will lose $32.5 million in funding from the 2017 budget, the State Department said, with funds shifted to similar programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development.”
“The administration,” said Lederman, “accusing the agency of supporting population control programs in China that include coercive abortion.”
Now when we look at the Chinese policy we do detect that there’s a change in recent years. It’s a change from the infamous one child policy to a two child policy. Furthermore, the Chinese government has in some cases with permissions allowed couples to have a third child. But the thing to note here is that for decades China held fast to this one child policy. And at the community level, it was policed in such a way that women were dragged out of their homes, they were forced to undergo sterilization or abortion, and the policy also led, now it is very well documented, to infanticide, to the killing of some babies even after they were born. Lederman’s report went on to say,
“By halting assistance to the U.N. Population Fund, the Trump administration is following through on promises to let socially conservative policies that President Donald Trump embraced in his campaign determine the way the U.S. government operates and conducts itself in the world.”
Now we should pause at this moment to ask the question, how should it otherwise be? Is the suggestion that the United States government in terms of President Donald Trump should follow something other than the policies that he articulated and supported when he was running for president? What we have here is the absolute shock that comes regularly to the political system in this country when a candidate actually once elected follows through on his promises. This is increasing evidence that President Donald Trump is going to hold to a consistently pro-life understanding and working that understanding through policies related to funding at the United Nations is just one quite necessary step.
There is something else here we need to keep in mind in terms of worldview analysis. Going back to the 1960s and the 70s, the cultural elites in this country were increasingly committed to zero population growth as a goal, and they saw government action coercing a lowering of the birth rate as absolutely necessary. Major western foundations, funding sources, and western governments put pressure on other governments. Now one of the most notable things here is that the United States government actually brought pressure on China to lower its birthrates, and the United States at least in the early 1970s looked the other way when China adopted the one child policy along with coerced abortions and sterilizations.
Just after the announcement by the Trump Administration yesterday, Reuters reported that the UN Secretary-General and Antonio Guterres that the decision “could have devastating effects” on vulnerable women and girls around the globe.
That, we should note, is exactly what you would expect to hear from the UN Secretary-General defending the program and of course defending U.S. taxpayer assistance to the program. The cut, you’ll recall, is over $32 million to this UN agencies, and you will also recall that when the Trump Administration made the announcement yesterday, they didn’t say that the funding would be simply cut off, but rather that it would be directed to a U.S. government-controlled agency. In its own announcement made yesterday, the U.S. State Department said,
“While there is no evidence that the agency directly engages in coercive abortions or involuntary sterilizations in China, the agency continues to partner with the government that is the Chinese government on family planning, and thus can be found to support or participate in the management of China’s coercive policies.”
Actually, sources on the ground there in China have long pointed to collusion between international agencies in general and this United Nations agency in particular with the Chinese government’s coercive policies.
China’s one child policy will go down as one of the darkest marks in terms of any government’s intervention in the sexual and reproductive lives of its citizens. Given the size of China’s population, the actual moral toll of this infamous policy is almost impossible to calculate. But the numbers would be simply astounding. Just after the Trump Administration’s decision yesterday, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations told reporters that it was his hope “that the UN agencies will receive the necessary resources to carry out their duties on behalf of the international community and for the benefit of the international community.”
That being translated not from Chinese but from bureaucratic speak means that the Chinese government intends one way or another to continue its policy.
VP Mike Pence casts tie-breaking vote on Senate bill that allows states to defund Planned Parenthood
Next, shifting back to Washington D.C. on the Planned Parenthood front, there was big news last Thursday, and it took place in the United States Senate. And in both cases, it required the vote of the Vice President of the United States. The United States Constitution establishes that the U.S. Vice President is the presiding officer of the Senate, and in the case of an evenly divided vote it is the Vice President who casts the deciding vote. On Thursday of last week, Vice President Mike Pence had to do so not once but twice, and specifically on the question of changing the federal regulation adopted under the Obama Administration that prohibited states from defunding Planned Parenthood. Now as the Senate took action and the House of Representatives has taken similar actions, states will now be authorized to de-recognize Planned Parenthood in terms of Medicaid and other federal funding. That’s a very important issue, and what we need to watch here is the fact that the defenders of Planned Parenthood had everything riding on this presidential and congressional election. They had everything riding on whether or not the Obama Administration strictures would remain in place. Those regulations again had forbidden states from eliminating Planned Parenthood, and now at least 14 states are poised to do just that.
The story was summarized by Natalie Andrews in the Wall Street Journal who wrote,
“Vice President Mike Pence cast the tiebreaking votes in the Senate on Thursday on a measure that would enable states to strip some federal funds from women’s reproductive-health organization Planned Parenthood and other health-care providers. With Mr. Pence’s vote, the Senate voted 51-50 to cancel a regulation issued by the Obama administration that prohibited states from denying certain funds to health-care providers that perform abortions, freeing states to refuse to give the funds to Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc. and similar organizations.”
What you should hear in the background here was the dare that was given to Planned Parenthood just weeks ago by the President of the United States, Donald Trump. He openly challenged Planned Parenthood to drop its business of performing abortions, and in return the President said that he would politically protect the half-billion dollars a year of tax money that goes to the organization. As you will recall Planned Parenthood wasted no time at all. You could measure it in minutes, not in days, in responding to the President’s challenge with a flat “no.” That’s just how committed to abortion the organization is. The legislation that passed last week would now effectively allow 50 state legislatures to issue the very same challenge. The challenge will come down to this: you can be involved in abortion or you can receive taxpayer support for other aspects of women’s reproductive health as it’s classified. But what we should expect is that Planned Parenthood, state-by-state, will turn the deal down just as flatly. They are, quite literally, so committed to abortion that their commitment comes at any cost.
18 hours too long for culture of death: Fed Judge blocks IN law over waiting period before abortion
Finally, also on the issue of human life, yesterday the Indianapolis Star ran a headline story,
“Judge rejects abortion rule.”
This was a rule undertaken by the Indiana legislature that required a woman considering an abortion to receive an ultrasound and then 18 hours later as a minimum to go ahead with the abortion. A federal district court judge struck that down on Monday, indicating that the legislation represented an undue burden upon women, and furthermore indicated that it had a disproportionate impact on poor women who would be put in an even more difficult position to have to come to two appointments at a facility offering abortions. As reporter Fatima Hussein explained,
“The law was challenged by Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, which argued it was unconstitutional because it put an undue burden on women seeking an abortion and serves no purpose other than to block their right to an abortion.”
Now note very carefully, the legislation in no way blocked a woman’s access to abortion. All it did in this case was to put in an 18 hour waiting period after an ultrasound. But that’s really what’s so instructive to us here. The ultrasound itself was an undue burden, certainly in the eyes of Planned Parenthood and those who are ardent supporters of abortion. Though this story now becomes almost routine in understanding how courts intervene on behalf of abortion rights, even after elected legislatures act with a very limited law, the thing to keep in mind here is the ardent opposition to any restriction, even for a matter of hours on abortion. Here you would at least think that a decision of that magnitude would be respected even by those who are the defenders of what they characterize as abortion rights in such a way that they would reflect that it is indeed a momentous moral decisions.
But that’s the issue. Once they concede that it is a momentous moral decision, then they have to take the morality of the equation seriously. They have to face seriously the fact of the moral reality of abortion. That’s what they are ardently determined not to do. And furthermore what we see here is that they want to do anything to prevent women from that very same realization, in particular women seeking abortions. Those who are the defenders of abortion in America want there to be no impediment, no slowdown, no bump in the road, nothing to slow down a woman destroying the unborn life within her.
The other interesting thing in terms of this story is how those who pass the legislation are described as extremists in terms of the popular conversation. But keep in mind here that we’re merely talking about an 18 hour delay after an ultrasound before an abortion would continue. There’s nothing in the legislation that would further block a woman from getting the abortion that she demands. But the culture of death, we need to note, simply will not wait, not even 18 hours.