Thursday, 31 March 2011

Sen. Lautenberg Says Tea Partiers Don't Deserve Constitutional Rights

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Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is coming under fire from pro-life advocates for comments he made at a recent rally Planned Parenthood staged to save taxpayer funding for its abortion business.

Lautenberg appeared with about 100 supporters who wore pink shirts and stood in front of a pink-colored bus Planned Parenthood has been driving around the country in order to build up support for receiving tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to fund what is the largest abortion business in the country.

“Planned Parenthood is under attack by Tea Party Republicans who have put their extremist ideology above women’s health,” Lautenberg said, while pro-life advocates who counter-protested shouted, “Shame on you, Lautenberg.”

The pro-abortion New Jersey Senator fired back: “These people [referring to the pro-life advocates] don’t deserve the freedoms in the Constitution.”

Then, as an afterthought, he said, “but we’ll give it to them anyway.”

Sen. Lautenberg effectively said that in his view, pro-lifers (and all those who disagree with him and his liberal perspective) do not deserve the protections afforded to them by the Constitution. This shocking statement goes against one of the foundational truths upon which the American Republic is founded: that the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights apply to all American citizens, regardless of their political perspectives or opinions.

Questions also abound as to whether Lautenberg is fulfilling the legal terms of his office. U.S. Senators take an oath of office to defend the Constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic, “without evasion” and without bias. Senators represent all of their constituents, not only those with whom they happen to agree.

It therefore comes as no surprise that at the same rally, the free speech and free assembly rights of the pro-life protesters were violated. Marie Tasy of New Jersey Right to Life says that attorneys feel that the city of Englewood, N.J. illegally silenced the counter-protesters, demanding that they use a permit, while Planned Parenthood was allowed to hold the rally without a permit (in a municipality where the mayor’s wife, Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle, is one of the pro-abortion group’s strongest legislative allies). Lautenberg and his supporters, in effect, already deprived pro-life conservatives of their First Amendment rights, consistent with their statements.

Huttle’s colleague in the New Jersey General Assembly, Linda Stender, herself joined in on the defamatory rhetoric, accusing pro-life Americans of hating women:

The conservative misogynistic policies being pushed by Chris Christie and the Tea Party are a full-on assault to keep women from being full participating members of society by denying them access to reproductive health care. For every one dollar not spent on family planning services, we will spend four more. Senator Lautenberg gets this and he is courageously battling the same challenges we are in New Jersey.

The irony, however, lies in the fact that those protesting against Planned Parenthood were constitutionalists, who support the push to defund Planned Parenthood and the federal Title X family planning funding. Federal funding for any healthcare programs explicitly violates the Constitution, let alone federal funding for abortion.

It is also ironic that while Lautenberg’s official Senate website touts that he addressed a so-called “truth rally,” a press release on his appearance at the rally conveniently omits his statement that those who disagree with him on abortion do not deserve their constitutional liberties (which are inalienable rights given by God that cannot be nullified by any earthly powers, according to the Jeffersonian and Lockean premises upon which the Constitution is based).

Because of his strong pro-abortion positions, Lautenberg is no stranger to controversy. In August 2010, he slipped an amendment into a foreign appropriations bill that would make permanent President Barack Obama’s overturning of the Mexico City Policy, which prevents taxpayer dollars from being used to fund groups providing abortions overseas. The Lautenberg Amendment would prevent a pro-life President from reinstating the Mexico City Policy (first implemented during the presidency of Ronald Reagan), and would make foreign aid for abortion groups a fixture of U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) spending, despite a February 2009 Gallup Poll which found that a strong majority of Americans are upset that Obama would send their tax money overseas to perform and promote abortions. It found 58 percent of Americans opposed Obama’s pro-abortion decision while just 35 percent supported it and 7 percent had no opinion.

In February, Lautenberg compared defunding Planned Parenthood to imposing a radical Islamic agenda on America. Those who support ending federal funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, Lautenberg says, "are no better than the Taliban":

If they [pro-life Americans] had their way, the reproductive rights of American women would be tossed away and it sounds to me like a Third World country that’s requiring women to wear head shawls to cover their faces even if they don’t want to do it. This is America. It’s not one of the third world countries that we see these tragic decisions hoisted [sic] upon the women.

Lautenberg’s voting record is a reflection of this incendiary rhetoric. He has a lifetime rating of 0 percent from the National Right to Life Committee, and a rating of 100 percent from NARAL Pro Choice America. He voted no on prohibiting minors from crossing state lines for abortions, and on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions — and even voted against legislation that would criminalize harming the unborn. In addition, he is a supporter of the procedure known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion), and opposes any restrictions on the unrestrained availability of partial-birth abortion. Lautenberg is also a supporter of human cloning, having voted against a cloning ban in 1998.

In September 2010, Lautenberg even introduced legislation in the Senate that would permanently cut off funding for federal abstinence education (which, despite its noble intent, also is not authorized by the Constitution) and redirect $125 million in funds for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which promotes contraception-based sex education. This latter unconstitutional legislation (the Responsible Education About Life [REAL] Act), would have pumped millions of dollars into federal grants for "abstinence plus" programs, which are heavy on contraception and light on abstinence.

Lautenberg also opposes the freedom-of-conscience protections of pharmacists and physicians. A key sponsor of the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act, he believes that if a pharmacist were to refuse to prescribe contraceptives (including the "morning after" pill, which functions as an abortifacient) on ethical or professional grounds, they should be subject to up to $500,000 in fines.

Most shockingly, Lautenberg supports taxpayer funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which supports mandatory abortion and sterilization programs overseas, and has been found to fund China’s heinous “One Child Policy,” in which those who conceive without government approval are forced to abort after having one child (abortions as late as 38 weeks are performed, constituting all medical definitions of infanticide), in the name of “population sustainability,” the fundamental premise underlying the UNFPA’s work.

The 87-year old Senator’s term ends in 2014, and he has not yet announced whether he intends to run for reelection.

Photo: Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. greets Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 8, 2011, prior to a news conference to discuss women's health.: AP Images

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