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Part 2

Abortion access

Developments during 2017-APR to DEC:

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2017-APR-07: Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court:

Congress has required a 60% majority of Senators to vote in favor of a nominee to the High Court in order to confirm them. However, only three Democratic Senators were willing to join with all of the Republicans in approving his appointment. Under long-standing Senate rules, Judge Gorsuch would not have been confirmed. So, the Republican Senators changed the rules. They implemented what is referred to as the "nuclear option:" to require only a simple majority vote for confirmation. The final vote was 54 to 45 in favor of confirmation. 1

He will fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia during 2016-FEB. The balance of judicial philosophies on the court will return to being 5:4 with conservatives once more in the majority. However, Justice Kennedy frequently deviates from the other conservative Justices in cases involving civil liberties, human rights, and equality. And so, the Court will again be profoundly divided, similar to the rest of the U.S. population.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: "He’s going to make the American people proud."

President Trump (R) congratulated Gorsuch via Twitter. His tweet said: "Congratulations to an exceptionally qualified and respected judge on his confirmation to the Supreme Court!" 1

There were two ceremonies required to swear him in as a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The first was the constitutional oath that he gave at a private ceremony on APR-10. It was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court building. The second was the judicial oath administered during a public ceremony by Justice Anthony Kennedy. It was in the White House Rose Garden that afternoon.

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2017-MAY: Controversy over a private Christian high school's treatment of a pregnant Grade 12 student:

Maddi Runkles, 18, is attending Heritage Academy, a Christian school, in Hagerstown, MD. She has attained a 4.0 average. She found out that she was pregnant during 2017-JAN. Being pro-life, she decided to continue her pregnancy rather than have an abortion. Her class grauation is scheduled for JUN-02. She is due to give birth to a boy about SEP-04.

The schools's initial reaction when she revealed her pregnancy was to suspend her from classes, terminate her role as student council president, and require her to finish
her school year at home. Her family appealed the school's decision. The Academy reconsidered, and allowed her to continue her classes. However, she was prohibited from taking part in her graduation ceremony. She and her family have noted that other students have been disciplined for breaking behavioral rules, and still allowed to take part in their graduation.

During an interview, Maddi said that she believes that the school gave her this special punishment:

"... because I’m pregnant and you can see the results of my mistake. There have been kids who have [also] broken the student code and they could have hurt people or even gone to jail and they only received an in-school suspension and they’re allowed to walk [at graduation]. ... The school is worried about its reputation, but I think they’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to set an example for the pro-life community and Christian schools about how to treat guys and girls like me. ... I chose life and sometimes it feels like it wasn’t worth it, but then it’s been kind of a blessing because I have a big platform to help other people."

The school principal, David Hobbs, said that Runkles is being disciplined:

"... not because she is pregnant but because she was immoral . ... The best way to love her right now is to hold her accountable for her morality that began this situation."

He said that classes in the school emphasize abstinence and tells students to:

"...'maintain their purity until their wedding night. We teach our students about the beauty of marriage and that sex inside of marriage is one of the things that is beautiful about marriage."

A few pro-life groups have publically criticized the school's decision. Some predicted that banning her from graduation will convince other female students in similar situations to decide to have an abortion and avoid any future embarassment and school discipline:

  • Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, said:

    "It’s a bad decision. I was horrified when I learned that they wouldn’t let her walk at graduation. Usually when a woman is facing an unwanted pregnancy, especially a young woman, there is a sense of shame that comes into play and can have an impact on her decision and often does. ... What she needs is support, and what the school is doing is really the opposite of that. It’s the antithesis of what it means to be Christian."

  • Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America said:

    "By banning her and her alone, the administration and board collectively decided to make a public example of one student and has either intentionally or unintentionally communicated to the school community that pregnancy (not simply premarital sex) is a shame and should not be observed within our school community." 2

  • A Christian blogger for Live Action News wrote:

    "It must have been very difficult to stand before your parents and school and admit you were pregnant in your senior year at a Christian high school. But you did it. I carefully read what you said:

    'I told on myself. I asked for forgiveness. I asked for help.'

    My heart went out to you. What more could anyone do? Jesus himself said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' And yet you have been hit with stones. I’m sorry. … While sex outside marriage is considered a sin in the Christian faith, we also recognize something else the Bible makes clear: 'If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (I John 1:9). You did that. Before God, you are without sin. Christ has covered this, too'." 3

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The school's business account with Google receied 76 reviews, most of whom condemned the school's decision and gave the Academy only a 1 star rating out of a maximum of 5 stars. 4 One comment who identified themself as "Pro-life SDA" was particularly striking. She wrote:

"I just wanted to let you know that you have my full support (and my husbands) for the way your school has handled a certain situation.

I suspect that "Pro-life SDA" really intended to write "husband's."

Webmaster's comment:

Various surveys in recent years have shown that the average age at which youths become sexually active in the U.S. is 16. If the other fourteen students in her class are typical, most have been sexually active. However, whether from good luck, or the use of contraceptives, or having an abortion, they escaped becoming pregnant.

Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced this bill as H.R.36. It was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, and then to the Committe's Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice. The bill was passed by a recorded vote in the full House (237 to 189 with seven non voting) on OCT-04. It was then forwarded to the Senate.

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2017-OCT-03: The federal "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" is passed by the House:

Trent Franks (R-AZ) had introduced this bill as H.R.36 on JAN-03. It is colloquially known as "Michah's Law." It was passed by a recorded vote in the full House (237 to 189 with seven non voting) on OCT-04. It was immediately forwarded to the Senate where it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

If it is passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, it will prohibit almost all abortions performed after 20 weeks following conception. The stated rationale by the authors of the bill is the belief that a fetus aged 20 weeks or older following conception can feel pain. More details.

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This topic is continued for 2018 in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Veronica Neffinger, "Judge Neil Gorsuch is Confirmed to Serve on Supreme Court," Christian Headlines, 2017-APR-10, at:
  2. "This pregnant teen is a 4.0 student, but her school won’t let her attend graduation, Toronto Star, 2017-MAY-24, at:
  3. Jennifer Abel, "Maddi Runkles: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,", 2017-MAY-24, at:
  4. "Heritage Academy," Google business listing, week of 2017-MAY-20, at:
  5. Text of the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," Congressional Record, 2017-OCT-03, at:
  6. "Pregnancy and Conception," WebMD, 2016, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Abortion > Misc. items > Related items > News > here

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2017-APR-10
Latest update : 2017-APR-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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