Tigers for Life Hosts Prof. David Crockett to Discuss Natural Law and Abortion

On Thursday, April 11, at their general meeting, Tigers for Life (TFL) hosted political science professor David Crockett as a guest speaker. Crockett, the chair of the Trinity University political science department, is an expert in the American presidency and classical and conservative philosophy, including the philosophy of Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine.

The crowd was mixed, with TFL members and visitors alike in attendance. Before he started his talk, Crockett handed out an outline of topics to be discussed. Crockett’s main topic of focus in his talk was how natural law can provide a framework to argue for the immorality of abortion. First, he gave a brief introduction to natural law as an objective concept that can be applied to every human being. He also brought up Aquinas’s concept of human law, saying that human law does not always adhere to natural law, and thus, natural law can condemn certain human laws that violate it, such as murder, adultery, and theft. He also emphasized that his talk will not focus on abortion through a religious perspective, despite his own Christian identification.

After giving a brief background on natural and human law, Crockett delved into the discussion of abortion and natural law. He claimed that the first thing to consider regarding abortion is whether or not abortion can be classified as murder, which he defined as “the deliberate taking of human life.” To determine whether or not abortion is murder, he said we must consider four questions: Is abortion deliberate? Are we talking about a life? Is the life human? Is the life innocent? The most debated question is whether or not the life is human. Many abortion activists do not consider a fetus a life, so they would answer “no” to this question.

Dr. Crockett cited some interesting arguments that would question the innocence of an unborn baby. “Feminist scholar Ivy Munduna argues that the fetus aggressively intrudes on a woman’s body so massively that deadly force is justified to stop it.  She argues that the fetus is objectively at fault for causing pregnancy,” said Crockett. However, he came to the conclusion that the answer is “yes” to all of the above questions, therefore, abortion is murder. “If abortion is murder, then overall, it violates natural law.”

According to attendees, average pro-life or pro-choice activists often neglect discussion of the topic in a philosophical context. “I found the theories or possibilities of why pro-choice people think that way in the context of natural law very interesting,” said Angelique Lopez, president of TFL.

Finally, Crockett discussed Thomas Aquinas’s concept of the corruption of reason and the five explanations for why people dispute the principles of natural law and whether or not abortion is murder. They are as follows: corruption of reason by passion, evil habit, evil disposition of nature, vicious custom, and depraved ideology. He emphasized that these are the main reasons why people violate the natural law conclusion that abortion is murder. Crockett concluded that we need to emphasize the centrality of humanity in order to prevent the taking of human life.

Tigers for Life will continue to host meetings and guest speakers to talk about multiple issues related to abortion from philosophy to public policy.

The Darsch Report: April 1 – 7

San Antonio Baby With No Skin

A San Antonio baby that was born without any skin from the neck down will begin to receive treatment sometime next week at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

The child, Ja’bari Gray, was born to 25-year-old Priscilla Maldonado on Jan 1, 2019, after what seemed to be a normal and healthy pregnancy. That was until the baby was born and doctors realized that something was seriously wrong

“It was just completely silent. You know, you expect people to be happy after you have a baby and I had no idea until they put me in a room and explained what was going on,” said Maldonado describing the moments after she gave birth to her son.

While speaking to the doctors she was told that her son has a rare disease known as Aplasia Cutis and that it is the third known case in the US. Because of the rarity of this disease doctors don’t currently know how to properly treat it so the doctors were treating it as burns.

He remains on life support and Maldonado says doctors have told her there is nothing more they can do.

The family is planning funeral arrangements and trying to pay for medical bills. If you would like to donate then please click here.

Wendy Davis and CD-21

Wendy Davis, a former Democratic member of the Texas State Senate for District 10 in the Fort Worth area, says that she is not running for the US Senate in 2020 but instead is looking at a bid at Congressional District 21, which is Trinity University’s district.

Though she has mulled a Senate run in the past, in the podcast, “The Rabble: TX Politics for the Unruly Mob,” Davis made clear she is no longer weighing a Senate campaign and reiterated her call for U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio to enter the race.

“There’s a reason I made a decision not to run for this Senate seat against John Cornyn,” Davis said on the show, which was taped Thursday. “I’ve been very candid about the fact that my dear friend Joaquin Castro is someone that I’d like to see run.”

Congressional District 21 is currently held by Republican Chip Roy who won the district in 2018 against Democrat Joseph Kopser 50.2%-47.6%. Kopser has considered running for the district again but recently announced that he will not be seeking office in 2020.

TX-21 is one of six GOP-held districts in Texas that national Democrats are now targeting for next year. It stretches from Austin to San Antonio and out to the Hill Country.

“Joseph Kopser gave a valiant effort [in 2018] — worked so, so hard and came very, very close,” Davis said on the podcast. “Can we do it for 2020? I want to make sure that we have the ability to win it, and I believe we do. And, I want to believe I’m the right person to help us do that.”

Pro-Life Bill Passed Out of Senate

On Tuesday, April 2, a bill targeting the transfer of taxpayer dollars from state and local governments seeking to help fund the operations of abortion providers passed out of the Texas Senate.

Senate Bill 22 by State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) passed with 20 ayes and 11 nays. State Sen. Eddie Lucio (Brownville) was the lone Democrat to cross party lines in support of the legislation.

The bill would prevent local governments from contracting with or providing tax dollars to abortion providers.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick included SB 22 among three pro-life bills in his 30 legislative priorities for the chamber early last month. Patrick issued the following statement after the passage of the bill Tuesday:

“There is nothing more important than defending the defenseless. Senate Bill 22, authored by Sen. Campbell, will continue Texas’ commitment to defend the most vulnerable in our society and preserve the sanctity of life. Senate Bill 22 protects Texas taxpayers and affirms Texas’ commitment to protecting life. I strongly support this legislation and congratulate Sen. Campbell for carrying this important bill.”

The bill now heads to the Texas House, where pro-life bills have largely languished so far in the 86th Legislative Session.

US Economy

The stock market this week has done great and is reapproaching record highs. The Dow Jones increased to 26,424.99 on Friday, increasing by +496.31 points, or +1.91 percent over its March 29 close of 25,928.68. The S&P 500 increased by +58.34 points or +2.06 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq increased on Friday by +2.71 percent. The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each 403.4, 21.3, and 171 points from topping their respective record highs.

A favorable jobs report also came out this week showing that about 196,000 jobs were added to the US, more than the 175,000 jobs estimated by experts. The unemployment rate holds steady at 3.8 percent with wages increasing 3.2 % year over year however this came at the same time that the labor force participation rate decreased by 0.2% to its lowest level since November.

The Atlanta FED is also giving some favorable numbers in its GDPNow forecast showing that the US economy in the first quarter of 2019 will increase by 2.1%.

It appears that the US economy isn’t stalling yet, something that worried investors in February, but instead continues to grow strong. With the US and China coming closer to a trade deal within the next month or two, one can expect the US economy to remain strong for the rest of the year.

USDA and Testing on Kittens

On Tuesday, April 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture that it’s putting an end to a controversial research program that led scientists to kill thousands of cats over decades.

Since 1982 the USDA’s Agricultural Research Services division had been conducting experiments that involved infecting cats with toxoplasmosis — a disease usually caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat — in order to study the foodborne illness. Once the cats were infected and the parasite harvested, the felines were put down.

In a statement announcing the decision, the agency said: “toxoplasmosis research has been redirected and the use of cats as part of any research protocol in any ARS laboratory has been discontinued and will not be reinstated.”

Additionally, the USDA said it is in the process of putting the 14 remaining uninfected cats up for adoption by agency employees.

The USDA has been facing increasing pressure to shut down this practice with bipartisan legislation to end the practice being introduced to Congress last month.

Brexit Update

With just five days until the UK is meant to leave the European Union on Friday, April 12 at 11:00 pm BST, it is uncertain if the Labor Party, Conservative Party, and EU will be able to come to a deal that they can all agree to.

Theresa May is currently undergoing talks with Labor to reach a deal as she has said that only a cross-party pact will get the support of a majority of the members of Parliament as the Democratic Unionist Party and some Tories have rejected her deal with the EU.

However, several Conservatives have strongly criticized the move. Additionally, very few details have come out as to what a Conservative-Labor deal would look like.

The Prime Minister is due at an emergency summit in Brussels on Wednesday when EU leaders will expect to hear fresh plans.

On Sunday, May tweeted a video message, explaining her decision to negotiate with Labour.

“We absolutely must leave the European Union… that means we need to get a deal over the line and that’s why we’ve been looking for new ways – a new approach – to find an agreement in Parliament,” she said.

“People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. And I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often.”

Theresa May has already acted in bad faith by not honoring her agreement to leave the EU on March 29 and instead asking for an extension so that she can negotiate a deal. The pressure to negotiate any deal at all over no deal is mounting for May. It will not be surprising if in the next week Theresa May has a deal passed that essentially keeps the UK as part of the EU or she is granted another extension.

Texas Senate Passes Bill Defunding Abortion Providers

On March 20, the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee passed Senate Bill 22 seven to zero. Filed on March 7 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), this bill would prohibit transactions between any governmental entity and an abortion provider or an affiliate of the provider. The ban would include state or local tax revenues going to standalone abortion providers and “advocacy or lobbying by or on behalf of a governmental entity on the behalf of the interests of an abortion provide or affiliate.” SB22, co-authored by one Democrat senator and 18 Republican senators, now only has to pass through the two chambers of the legislature to become state law. SB 22 passed the full Senate on April 2.

The bill would not apply to hospitals, universities and clinics that perform 50 or fewer abortions in any 12-month period.

Opponents said the bill would cut off funding to providers like Planned Parenthood that provide affordable health care services for many women.

Mireya Trevino, a public health student at UT-Austin, said that many students go to Planned Parenthood for basic health services such as STD tests, birth control and cancer screenings. “When you’re uninsured, your budget tends to be low or no cost and that’s exactly what Planned Parenthood has,” Trevino said.

Though many support organizations like Planned Parenthood, many taxpayers do not.

“Taxpayers who oppose abortion shouldn’t have to see their tax dollars subsidizing the industry,” Campbell told the Senate State Affairs Committee.

Planned Parenthood performed 332,757 abortions in the last fiscal year, more than one third of the number of annual abortions performed in the US. That is over 900 abortions a day.

Nicole Hudgens with Texas Values, who testified on March 18 in support of the bill, said that SB22 “prevents local abortion groups, like Planned Parenthood in Austin, from receiving ‘sweetheart’ rent deals [for one dollar a year] while families and low-income individuals in the surrounding area struggle to maintain housing, schools and livelihood” and see “their taxes increase by hundreds of dollars.

States such as Nebraska and Ohio have already passed similar bills into state law.

Movie Review: Unplanned

On March 30, I went to see Unplanned with various members of Trinity University’s student organization Tigers For Life, a pro-life club. The movie is based on Abby Johnson’s story as she became a director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan, TX, and eventually became an outspoken pro-life activist.

I am an active member of Tigers For Life and consider myself knowledgeable about abortion and Planned Parenthood, as the club often hosts tables on campus to talk to our peers about abortion and other pro-life options available to women. I thought I was prepared to watch Abby Johnson’s story.

I was wrong.

Before seeing Unplanned, abortion was something that I knew about in clinical terms. I knew that suction was used to forcibly remove the unborn child from the mother’s womb. I knew that abortion is a traumatic experience for women, and that it has lasting physical and psychological effects on women. However, all of this knowledge was abstract to me.

But when watching the movie, I watched those facts and numbers and figures become the stories of the women with whom Abby Johnson interacted. I had to turn away when Johnson saw the ultrasound of a woman’s baby as it was being aborted. I cried when the fetus tried to move away from the probe, as the baby struggled desperately to save its own life.

Throughout the movie, Johnson’s Planned Parenthood clinic was watched and prayed over by a group called 40 Days for Life. Johnson had multiple conversations with the members of the group, as she often had to interact with them in order to bring patients into the clinic. The movie showed two very different pro-life groups. One was 40 Days for Life, as they peacefully prayed outside the clinic and tried to offer help and other options to the women who were scheduled to have abortions. The other group were not peaceful nor at all helpful.

In the movie, the people who were a part of 40 Days for Life condemned the other group. The other group is what some pro-choicers try to paint all pro-lifers as. People who shame women for having an abortion, and who hate them for having to make a difficult, terrible choice. They were the ones waving signs with graphic pictures of abortion and its effects on a fetus. And Unplanned did a wonderful job of showing audiences that that is not what the pro-life movement is about. Everyone whom Abby interacted with at 40 Days for Life was understanding and compassionate. While they disagreed with abortion and found it wrong, they did not hurl insults at the women at the Planned Parenthood clinic. We should not condemn someone for their beliefs or for their actions. We can only look at them with compassion and sympathy, and help those around us find a solution for their problems.

Because those with 40 Days for Life were so compassionate and understanding, they became the people to whom Johnson turned when she realized all of the evil that was happening at Planned Parenthood. I—and many others in the audience, judging by the loud sniffling and quiet sobbing that filled the theater—cried with Abby Johnson as her movie-representation cried over all of the lives she had ended.

After Johnson became pro-life, she shared a statistic that immediately caught my attention. She told Shawn Carney, the president of 40 Days for Life, that if people are praying outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic, then almost 75% of the women will not show up for their abortion appointments. Oftentimes, I feel useless when doing pro-life work. It feels like no matter how much our group tables on campus, or however much volunteer work we do, our work doesn’t affect those around us. I think that many people feel the same way. But in the movie, Johnson told Carney that, “You can’t even see how much your work actually does.” And that inspires me to keep going and to keep working. Maybe I can’t see how my actions are actually affecting those around me, but I have to have faith that my small words and deeds really can make a difference.

Unplanned opened my eyes to abortion. It forced me to confront abortion. I walked into the movie theatre with a knowledge of abortion, but I was emotionally closed off from it. I was closed off from the horror that is purposefully killing an innocent life. I didn’t let myself think about how truly terrible abortion is, even if I had a vague idea that abortion is bad. Unplanned forced me to confront abortion, and has made me even more eager to do what I can to help the pro-life movement.

Cover image courtesy of Victoria Ydens; depicting Tigers for Life attending Unplanned.

Texas Heartbeat Bill Filed by Briscoe Cain

On February 7, Representative Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) filed the Texas Heartbeat Bill, HB 1500, to prevent the abortions of the unborn with a detectable heartbeat.

In his statement, Rep. Cain said:

“The heartbeat is a universally recognized indicator of life. The Texas Heartbeat Bill recognizes that this universal indicator should also apply to our most innocent and vulnerable Texans. A society is judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. I believe the most defenseless of our society are the innocent unborn children. As state representative, I am committed to making Texas the safest place in America for the unborn child. I will continue to fight and ensure that all Texan children, including those saved by the Texas Heartbeat Bill, will inherit a prosperous Texas filled with endless opportunity.”

Alongside co-authors Representatives Phil King (R-Weatherford), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Rick Miller (R-Sugar Land), Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) stated that “[p]rotecting the unborn life is critical to who we are as a nation and a state. When you have a heartbeat, you have a life, and we should honor that life at all cost.”

Just a week later on February 14, Rep. Cain announced that HB 1500 has now over 40 joint/co-authors, quickly gaining support in the legislature. HB 1500 was referred to the Committee on Public Health, chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston). Rep. Steve Allison (R) of San Antonio is also on the committee. It has not been schedule for a hearing.

But Texas is not the only one who has filed a heartbeat bill this year. Ten other states (FL, KY, MD, MN, MS, MO, OH, SC, TN and WV) have done the same. Kentucky’s heartbeat bill has already passed out of Senate, and Mississippi’s out of both House and Senate.

Amidst other states recently passing laws allowing for late-term abortions, these bills give hope to many in the pro-life movement.

The Darsch Report: Mar. 4 – 10

San Antonio Activist Found Guilty of Disorderly Conduct

On Tuesday Mar. 5, Jesus Padilla, also known as “Mexican Padilla” on Youtube, was convicted on three counts of disorderly conduct and issued a fine of $1,713.

Padilla is a member of the “First Amendment Auditors,” which records police and government workers to test the limits of First Amendment freedoms.

The case involved a confrontation that occurred last year on April 27 at the SAPD central substation.

In the minute-long video, Padilla and his colleges can be seen following three SWAT officers to the entrance of the station and proceeding to shout explicit language and homophobic slurs when blocked by one of the officers from exiting.

Even after exiting the building, Padilla and his group continue to curse at the officers as his colleagues press them for their names and badge numbers.

Padilla is looking to appeal the court’s decision. “As long as I’m not threatening to assault them it’s not against the law,” Padilla said. “They get paid well enough to have thick skin.”

During the trial, Padilla said San Antonio Police Chief McManus himself was there alongside the city attorneys who were representing the three SWAT officers.

McManus applauded the conviction. “It almost puts a dagger in the heart of their First Amendment excuse for insulting police officers,” he said.

“There are two distinct actions here,” he said. “If someone is stopped, and they decide to call a police officer a derogatory term, that’s one thing. But if you are aggressively and in a verbally assaultive way closing space on a police officer when they’re doing their jobs … that is totally different than just calling a police officer a name.”

Only time will tell if Padilla is able to appeal his conviction which is the first time he has gone to trial over an arrest stemming from his self-described auditing.

Texan Teachers May get a Pay Raise

On Monday, March 4, the Texas Senate passed its first piece of legislation for this session, Senate Bill 3.

The chamber unanimously passed the bipartisan bill, which would give an across-the-board pay raise of $5,000 to every teacher in Texas at a cost of nearly $4 billion. The bill was authored by State Sen. Jane Nelson (R–Flower Mound), and supported by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and every member of the Texas Senate.

While the bill was in committee last week, teacher unions came out to support the bill alongside administrators who were unhappy that they weren’t part of the bill. Although administrators were excluded, librarians were successfully added to the bill.

The bill will now move to the Texas House, where House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R–Brazoria) and Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty (R–Kingwood) have focused on supporting merit pay proposals instead.

Although SB3 is great for Texas teachers and will more than likely be passed by the House, the Texas legislature has strongly sought property tax relief as an agenda priority. Especially since local school funding comes largely from property taxes, legislators should take the $4 billion bill into account when comparing priorities.

Alabama Man Sues Abortion Clinic

In Alabama, 21-year-old Ryan Magers is suing an abortion clinic for aborting his unborn child against his wishes.

“We are suing the clinic, the manufacturer of the pill, going after the doctor and going after any professional organization the doctor is affiliated with,” attorney Brent Helms told Fox News on Thursday, adding that “if they are all held liable, it would put a dent on the profitability of abortions.”

Magers’s aborted child, “Baby Roe,” was recognized as a plaintiff in the lawsuit on Tuesday, thanks to Alabama recognizing life at conception, making it the first case of its kind.

Magers, who was 19 at the time, claims that his girlfriend, who was 16, got a medicated abortion for her 6-week old fetus at the Alabama Women’s Center for Reproductive Alternatives in Huntsville even after he had pleaded with her to not get an abortion,

“A woman can go and she can have an abortion of convenience but there’s nothing that protects the father,” Helms said.

Magers added that although the pregnancy was an accident, he “owned up to it” and eventually warmed to the idea of parenthood.

“He got excited about being a dad,” Helms said. “He started working double shifts.”

However, the main goal of this case isn’t monetary damages or a jury trial. Helms claims that it is to increase the rights of would-be fathers in Alabama.

“I’m here for the men who actually want to have their baby,” he said. “I believe every child from conception is a baby and deserves to live.”

The fact that “Baby Roe” has been added as a plaintiff and that the case hasn’t already been thrown out is a definite win for Pro-Life groups. Now we need to see how far this case goes and if it inspires other would-be potential fathers to press charges as well.

Economy

It was not a good week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones decreased to 25,450.24 on Friday, decreasing by -576.08 points, or -2.21 percent under its Mar 1 close of 26,026.32. The S&P 500 decreased by -60.62 points or -2.16 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -2.46 percent.

Much of the stock market downturn can be explained by recent economic numbers in the US February jobs report and China.

The February jobs reports shows a rather disappointing net nonfarm payrolls increase of 20,000 however it is supplemented by unemployment going down from 4.0% to 3.8%, and year-over-year wages increasing 3.4%. Much of the dismal payroll numbers can be explained by workers who were affected by the government shutdown leaving part-time work to return to their normal jobs.

In China, a rather shocking report came out showing that year-over-year exports fell by 20.7% in February compared to an expected drop of 4.8 percent. Dollar-dominated imports also fell by 5.2 percent compared to economists’ expectations of 1.4 percent. This resulted in China having a positive trade balance of $4.12 billion but, it is nowhere near the expected overall trade balance to come in at $26.38 billion and January’s trade balance of $39.16 billion.

Venezuela Power Outage

In Venezuela, most of the country has been without power for days with 16 states having no power and six having partial power, an outage that has lead to the confirmed deaths of 17 people.

Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s self-declared interim president, told CNN Sunday that “Venezuela has truly collapsed already,” and accused the Maduro regime of at least 17 “murders” because of the blackout.

“There is no service in the hospitals. These were the best hospitals in the country. If we are in the capital kilometers inside Venezuela where there hasn’t been or there has been very little gasoline with periodic cuts in electricity, without basic goods, with inefficient public transportation? You can say with all responsibility that Venezuela has already collapsed.”

Maduro has blamed the United States for the blackout, telling supporters at a rally Saturday that the nation’s electric grid had been sabotaged. The United States has attributed the outage to the Maduro regime’s “incompetence.”

However, reports posted by Breaking New Live on Twitter claim that over 300 people, including over 80 newborns, have died because of a lack of access to medical care.

Until power comes back on in Venezuela and the number of dead is counted we won’t know how true these numbers are. One thing is for certain: both power and peace need to come back to the people of Venezuela.

San Antonio Founders Monument

On Saturday, March 9, a new art piece was unveiled outside the Bexar County Courthouse depicting the early founders of San Antonio.

The cast metal crew of five included a Native American man, a Franciscan friar, a Spanish soldier stationed at the Presidio, and a couple who migrated from the Canary Islands.

“We are pleased that our ancestors decided to make that treacherous journey by sea and by land,” said Mari Tamez, president of the Canary Islands Descendants Association, the driving force behind the monument’s creation. “It was a true leap of faith.”

The monument was first sculpted by Armando Hinojosa, a Laredo artist whose stone and bronze monument to Tejano heritage adorns the grounds of the Texas Capital. The sculpture was then cast by Stevens Art Foundry in Bulverde.

Speaking at the event, Hinojosa said Alfonso Chiscano, a local thoracic surgeon and advocate for knowledge of Canary Islander history, was the first to contact him about the sculpture. Chiscano immigrated to San Antonio from the Canary Islands in the 1970s.

Over $800,000 was raised for the monument with Bexar County commissioners approving $375,000 in County funds for the sculptures and $68,000 to build the statues’ base in October 2017 and the Canary Islands Descendants Association and supporters raising an additional $375,000.

Democrats Have Overplayed Their Hand on Abortion

The past month saw legislative victories for pro-abortion activists up and down the East Coast. Vermont, New York, and Virginia all either passed or are currently in the process of passing new sweeping abortion laws allowing abortion up until birth and possibly after in the case of Virginia.

In response, pro-life activists in states with unified Republican government have proceeded to pass or advocate heartbeat bills that ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected. 10 states are currently deliberating over these bills.

On the federal level, every Democrat in the Senate aside from Sen. Casey from Pennsylvania, Sen. Manchin from West Virginia, and Sen. Jones from Alabama voted to prevent the survivors of failed abortions who are born from being protected. This includes every Democrat in the Senate currently running for President.

I believe that the new abortion laws passed on the East Coast are a strategic blunder for Democrats in their attempt to retake the Presidency. The Trump elections, both 2016 and 2020 will be decided in the Midwest. The states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania will decide who the next President is, barring a Republican collapse in Arizona and Texas or a Democratic collapse in Minnesota and Colorado. Keep in mind that more historic blue states were in danger of being flipped in 2016 than did. Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Colorado were all within striking distance for President Trump.

The legislative term during a divided Congress leading into a presidential election is often merely a game of chess between the leaders of the two parties to put their side in the best light going into the general election. With as polarized as the two parties are, nothing fundamentally transforming is going to come out of this congress. As we saw this year, they can barely keep the government open. Each side is trying to put the other in tricky voting situations that can be turned into attack ads in October of 2020 right before voters go to the polls.

This is where Democrats have made a strategic blunder on the abortion issue. The selling point for abortion used to be “safe legal and rare”. Now it has become “shout your abortion” and pushing the limits of the questionable science in support of abortion to its limits by demanding abortion be an option up to birth. There is no talking point on abortion that is actually a quality talking point, but safe legal and rare is as close as they get.

Now think back to the electoral map and voting behaviors. When it comes to voters, Democrats own the pro-abortion voter, these voters simply don’t have a reason to vote Republican. Regardless of which Democrat is nominated, they will win almost all of the pro-abortion votes in the United States, just like Hillary Clinton.

In politics, when you empower one group of interest voters, you upset a different group. By empowering abortion extremists inside the Democratic Party, Democrats continue to alienate the pro-life Democrats, specifically Catholic Democrats. It’s one thing to support abortion when the argument is safe legal and rare. Now, it’s a whole new ballgame.

By attempting to pacify its radical base with absurd and unnecessary expansions on abortion, Democrats could very well be gift wrapping the 2020 Presidential election for Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton didn’t lose the Midwest ‘blue wall’ in 2016 due to the lack of enthusiasm on the behalf of pro-abortion voters. She lost the Midwest because of the defection of pro-life blue collar democrats to the Donald Trump. By the posturing of the Democratic candidates currently running for President, they clearly haven’t learned from the 2016 election about the dangers of holding absurd positions on abortion. Unrestricted abortion is a line through the heart which moderate Democrats simply won’t allow to be crossed when it comes to the ballot box.

Ironically, extremism on the abortion issue by the Democratic Party could lead to it being banned, a goal shared by many conservatives including myself. Without digging too deeply into the age of Supreme Court justices, the two oldest are 85 and 80 both appointed by Democratic presidents and considered to be the leaders of the liberal wing. The current ideological split of the court is 5-4 in favor of the conservatives with Roberts being the swing vote. If both of those Supreme Court justices retire before the next Democrat president, the court could go as far as 7-2 in favor of conservatives.

If the 7-2 split is achieved, then pro-life organizations around the United States would rally to their respective state capitals to advocate for silver bullet bills designed to trigger legal challenges to Roe v. Wade. The new conservative court would likely side with the laws, throwing out Roe v. Wade and hopefully putting an end to the era of America’s second great mortal sin.

Photo from NY governor’s office. Source.

Rep. Schaefer Files PreNDA in House

On Monday, February 25, Representative Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) filed House Bill 2434, styled the Preborn Non-Discrimination Act (PreNDA) by its proponents. The bill, and it’s Senate companion SB 1033 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would prohibit all abortions after 20 weeks except for those protecting the life of the mother, and abortions performed for reason of race, gender or disability.

In addition to protecting children before birth, PreNDA would also support pro-life medical and social services for pregnant women.

At the semiannual Republican Party of Texas (RPT) convention in San Antonio last summer, the RPT endorsed PreNDA as one of its legislative priorities. It is one of four pro-life priorities for the RPT during the 2019 Session. For the 2019 Texas Legislature, close to 9,000 Republican delegates support the bill as a priority for the Republican party.

In July 2013, the Texas Legislature passed the Preborn Pain Act, which protected children from being aborted after 20 weeks, as science has proven that babies at this stage in development can feel the pain of being aborted. However, while this act was a great step forward for the pro-life movement, it failed to protect unborn children suspected to have disabilities.

In 2015, Schaefer proposed an amendment that would have prohibited abortions on the basis that the fetus had a “severe and irreversible abnormality.” While the amendment received a majority of votes, it was stalled and later passed with significant changes.

The first coauthor on HB 2434 is freshman Rep. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco), followed by Rep. Jay Dean (R-Longview). The Senate version is jointly authored by Senators Campbell, Creighton, Hughes, Kolkhorst, Paxton, Perry, Taylor, and coauthored by Sen. Hall.

Photo: Rep. Schaefer speaking in support of Amendment 22 to Senate Bill 8, which would have been similar in effect to HB 2434. May 19, 2017.

Texas Right to Life Hosts Patients’ Rights Conference

January 26-27, the weekend of the Texas Rally for Life, Texas Right to Life, an organization dedicated to defending the rights of the unborn, the sick and the elderly, welcomed around 200 people to their Boots on the Ground two-day conference in Austin, Texas. This year, the theme of the conference was “Do No Harm” which centered around pro-life issues such as medical ethics, patients’ rights, assisted suicide, brain death and organ donation. A large number of college students attended this conference, from as diverse of schools as Lamar University, Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Trinity University, and UT Austin.

A number of prominent pro-life speakers presented, including speaker Stephanie Gray, co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, who started off the conference on Saturday morning at the Brentwood Oaks Church of Christ with a presentation on assisted suicide and euthanasia, and the pro-life response to these issues. Since she was 18, Gray has already given over 800 presentations all over the world, even at prestigious universities such as Berkeley, George Washington University and Yale.

Photo courtesy Tigers for Life.

In her presentation, Gray spoke about better alternatives to assisted suicide, and how her audience could apply this to the outside world. “Suffering is present in order to unleash love,” she quoted from Pope St. John Paul II. “If you think about it, when do we step outside ourselves and help someone in need?… When someone feels like a burden… we ought to unleash that love, not our assistance with their death. Another reason people give for assisted suicide is that they feel that they’re useless. Again we acknowledge it’s a problem if someone feels their life is not worth living because they can’t do anything or much. The solution rather than assisted suicide ought to be helping them see their self-worth. At the end of the day, our value actually isn’t in our usefulness. It’s in who we are. First and foremost we are human beings and we’re human beings that can do, but even when we can’t do, if we are, we ought to be celebrated.”

Following Gray’s presentation, the attendees ate lunch provided by the conference, then proceeded to join the rest of the thousands marching for life to the capitol.

Bobby Schindler spoke after the rally. In 1990 his sister Terri Schiavo collapsed and was left with serious cognitive disabilities. Later on, her husband sought court permission to remove her food and hydration, which then led Schindler into a legal battle to defend his sister’s life. After Terri’s death, Schindler gave up teaching to become a full-time pro-life and disabilities rights advocate and is now President of the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, which works to protect the lives of those in danger of being euthanized and to provide support to families whose loved ones are medically vulnerable.

Schindler spoke on how the media constantly distorted his sister’s case, with the media falsely claiming that Terri was “in an irreversible persistent vegetative state.” Schindler said that “she was getting aggressive therapy… and actually said words and was responsive,” and that she was getting better before her feeding tube was removed and started starving to death.

“What happened to Terri is happening every single day in our nation and even locally,” Schindler said. He went on to explain how the feeding tube was reclassified as no longer basic care in the medical field but as a medical treatment. “It’s because of this reclassification that permitted this to happen… If they need a feeding tube and they’re not dying, then we’re morally obligated to care for them. Terri was never dying.”

Photo courtesy Tigers for Life.

“There’s a deep-rooted prejudice against people with disabilities. The perfect example of this is what is happening to down syndrome babies [in Iceland] when mothers find out their babies have down syndrome and abort. But what does that say? If we’re okay with killing a child on the basis of a disability before they’re even born, how do we feel about people with disabilities in our world?… A fundamental concept about human dignity is that we possess it regardless of our physical or mental condition… That’s why we need people like you in this fight willing to educate the public on what is happening in our culture today.”

The following morning, speakers presented on the dangers of the Texas Advance Directives Act (TADA), which includes a provision that allows hospitals to remove life-sustaining care from patients against their will after a ten days notice if the patient isn’t moved to a different facility.

“They don’t have to discuss their reasons for you– their prognosis for you,” Attorney Kassi Marks described the TADA process. “This is the worst law like this and it’s right in our backyard… Assuming for the sake of argument [regarding doctors’ conscience protection], why is the only way to assuage the doctor’s conscience to with care? Why not just transfer care to someone else? Why do we have to protect the doctor’s conscience by killing them [the patients]? Euthanasia– it doesn’t get enough attention it deserves. 100 percent of us are going to be presented with a loved one in the hospital.”

Lastly, that Sunday afternoon, Jan. 27, Chet McDoniel was the last to speak, seemingly ending the conference on a positive note despite being born with no arms and shortened legs. He spoke about his secret to enjoying life.

McDoniel now has a wife and three daughters, aged ten, six and three. “I believe each and every other person has the God-given right to be happy,” he said. “When we look at life [regarding the unborn], what do we see? Do we see what should be? Do we see what’s perfect? Or do we see potential?

“Stop playing the blame game. While we’re doing that, we’re not focusing on what to make better. No one is to blame for the way I look… It’s completely and truly an accident. I believe God is not responsible for that either. I’d miss out on life if I’d focus so much on [the] why… I can change the situation even if I was not the cause.

Next year’s conference theme is “UNITE PRO-LIFE,” and will focus on the diversity of the pro-life movement.

The Darsch Report: Jan. 28 – Feb. 3

Money Laundering and Russians

Court documents were released on Friday, Feb. 1 detailing a money laundering scheme of more than half a million dollars committed by a San Antonio luxury car dealer with Russian connections. Karen Mgerian, 40 — one of two men arrested in raids Thursday in which more than 100 high-end vehicles were seized — is accused of laundering $575,000 in four separate money-laundering sting transactions in 2018 with undercover IRS and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

Before his arrest Thursday, Mgerian was in negotiations to launder another $4.7 million for the undercover agents by selling his business, MGM Auto, to the agents in return for a 12.9 percent money laundering fee. He also admitted to undercover DEA agents that he had recently laundered $780,000 “through a real estate transaction with a California marijuana distribution organization.”

Mgerian, a naturalized US citizen who traces his roots to the countries of Georgia and Armenia, denies the allegations, according to one of his lawyers, Jay Norton. Norton and his law partner, former Bexar County district attorney Nico LaHood, jointly represent Mgerian with former federal prosecutor Mike McCrum.

From what it looks likes with what he admitted to the DEA agents, this appears to be a cut and dry case that should be resolved fairly quickly.

Texas Tax Relief

On Thursday, Jan 31, identical property tax reform bills were introduced into the Texas State House and Senate by State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston). House Bill 2 and Senate Bill 2 are also part of Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen long-anticipated “big bill” on property tax reform.

Highlights from the bills include:

  1. Lower the rollback rate from 8 percent to 2.5 percent for taxing units that collect more than $15 million in tax revenues and establish election notice requirements based on whether a school district will or will not exceed a 2.5% rollback rate for Maintenance and Operation property tax.
  2. Requires an automatic tax ratification election in November if the rollback rate is exceeded in a taxing unit, and;
  3. Creates a property tax administrative advisory board that recommends improvements to the effectiveness and efficiency of the property tax system, best practices and complaint resolution procedures.

These bills are a huge step in the right direction for Texas in their effort to slow down property tax increases and provide tax relief to many across the state. Vance Ginn, Ph.D., TPPF’s senior economist and director of the Center for Economic Prosperity, stated:“This is a positive step toward providing taxpayers the support they are looking for and we are eager to work with leadership on securing the greatest relief possible.”

Texas Clergy Identifies Abusers

On Thursday, Jan 31, fourteen Texas dioceses identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children. This represents one of the largest collections of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania. The move by Texas Church leaders comes a month after the Illinois attorney general reported that at least 500 Catholic clergymen in that state had sexually abused children.

It is unclear whether any local prosecutors will bring up criminal charges as the majority of those identified have since died. Some investigations dated back to 1950 while other reviews, as in the case of the Diocese of Laredo, only went to 2000 because that’s when that diocese was established. Of the 286 men named in Texas, 172 are no longer alive, a percentage comparable with the national tally.

Marc Rylander, spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office, went on record to state “Our office stands ready to assist local law enforcement and any district attorney’s office that asks for our help in dismantling this form of evil and removing the threat of those who threaten Texas children.”

With Catholic clergy and Texas law enforcement willing to work together on this issue, everything should hopefully be resolved by the end of the year. And with the Catholic Church taking a harsher stance on abuse committed by its clergy, this issue should hopefully largely disappear within the next few years.

Virginia Can’t Catch a Break

Over the past week, Virginian Democrats, and by extension Gov. Ralph Northam, have come under fire for various reasons that many have found appalling.

The first being a new bill that would allow a pregnant woman to have an abortion throughout the entire 3rd trimester. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert asked bill sponsor Kathy Tran if this bill would allow a woman who was in active labor to request an abortion if a doctor determined that childbirth would impair her mental health. In response, Tran stated, “It would allow that, yes.”

Gov. Northam is especially under fire for what this bill allows after he made comments regarding it on a local radio on Wednesday.

“In this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I could tell you exactly what would happen: the infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated, if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said.

These statements earned Northam the ire of conservatives, moderates and liberals across the nation as he described this scenario as one of “infanticide”. But the controversy doesn’t end there.

The governor is also now facing controversy for a supposed picture of him in his medical school yearbook wearing either a KKK hood or blackface in a manner that makes it look like a minstrel show. In the 24 hours it took the news story to circulate on Friday and Saturday, Northam has gone from apologizing for his behavior when he was younger to denying that the is even in the photo.

“When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph,” he said at a news conference at the governor’s mansion.

If this photo does indeed include him, then Gov. Northam needs to resign if he wishes to save face (no pun intended) following not one but two controversies within the span of a few days.

US Economy

It was a good week for US stocks, with quite a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 25,063.89 on Friday, increasing by +262.47 points, or +1.06% percent over its Jan 25 close of 24,737.20. The S&P 500 increased by +39.39 points or +1.48% percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq had a decreased on Friday by +1.63 percent.

In addition to this, January gave the US an excellent jobs report despite the government shutdown. In January non-farm payrolls increased by 304,000, versus the expected number of 165,000, which analysts are calling the strongest number relative to expectations they’ve seen since June 2009. The labor force participation rate also increased to 63.1%, the highest since 2013, sending unemployment to 4.0%. Wages also continue to outpace inflation with yearly growth of weekly wages reaching 3.48% while inflation continues to stay around 2.0%.

With such a strong showing in January, despite the government shutdown, the US can look forward to continued excellent growth in the economy. All Trump needs to do now is finish trade negotiations with China and the US economy will be looking at growth rivaling that of 2018.