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Opinion | Amendment Two: Choice vs. Life

John W. Giles

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November 6, 2018 is the mid-term election, and in addition to a slate of candidates, Alabamians will be voting on four amendments to the Alabama Constitution. In this article, we will be talking about Amendment Two. If passed, the Alabama Constitution will recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life. Generally, there are three visible sides to this debate: those who want unlimited abortion, those who want to protect the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death (except for the life of the mother), and those who are opposed to abortion (except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother). In full disclosure, it is no surprise that I will be voting YES without blinking. Please don’t hang up the phone on me just yet; let’s get into the facts on this, so you can make a sound, rational decision.

Planned Parenthood (PP) is leading the effort to vote NO on this amendment. Why are they so adamant about keeping abortion legal in America; could it be large sums of money and their core philosophy? Even in the disturbing wake of mounting video recorded evidence of PP selling baby body parts, they are still receiving in excess of $500 million annually of federal tax dollars. In addition to the federal funding, PP charges anywhere from $350 – $950 for first trimester abortions and much more for second trimester abortions. PP is federally recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which excludes them from income tax. I am not sure how they do this, but even though non-profits are precluded by the IRS from engaging in elections, PP is publicly reported to be spending $20 – $30 million supporting Democrats for Congress in this general election cycle. I ran a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, and while we could participate in voter education and lobbying, we could not engage in “express advocacy” or endorsing any candidate. Amazingly, the IRS attacked conservative Tea Party members, but they look the other way on PP, which is pouring huge sums of money into Alabama to defeat this amendment.

PP was founded by Margaret Sanger (1883 -1996), who was a turn of the century birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. I challenge you to look her up yourself, because she had some very radical, liberal ideas. Most of her philosophical quotes are morally repugnant, even by the norms of her era, but they are imbedded into the molecular makeup of PP. Sanger formed PP to exterminate blacks. In 1939, she started: “The Negro Project” for the purpose of radically curbing the birth of black children. If this offends you, like it bristles me, check out this Sanger quote: “The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Sanger had an abhorrent, horrific, belief system and appalling tone; but at least she was honest in the goals of PP, which are prevalent today.

Three high profile Republican women, along with the Alabama Exchange (ad hoc group consisting of several pro-life organizations) are leading the Vote YES effort in the state. Terry Lathan (Chair of the Alabama Republican Party), Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (President of the Alabama Public Service Commission) and Mary Sue McClurkin (Shelby County Republican Representative) are leading the GOP get out the vote effort. Thank you ladies, for your leadership. This will be primarily a grassroots and social media driven outreach, and it will not match the well-funded PP opposition to Amendment Two.

PP will showcase in their ads that voting YES to the amendment will eliminate access to women, who are pregnant due to rape or incest. One of the three categories mentioned at the beginning of this article are those opposed to abortion except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother. Pay close attention to this statistic: The Guttmacher Institute, which is a research division founded by PP, by its own data, states that rape, incest and the life of the mother represents less than 1 percent of all abortions. So another perspective is the reciprocal, which means that over 99 percent of all abortions are emergency measures for birth control, and they are not cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother as marketed by PP. Liberal Democrats, PP, and the media will focus their entire attention on less than 1 percent of all abortions. The life of the mother discussion is a non-issue. When the life of the expecting mother is at stake, like a tubal pregnancy and the like, the tending physician will always put the life of the mother over her unborn child. Their argument is distorted at best, but now we take a close look at the deception around Roe v Wade.

If you follow my writings, there is no misunderstanding about my feelings of judicial activism and making law from the bench. Roe v. Wade was a classic model case as the pinnacle of judicial activism. Norma McCorvey (9/22/1947 – 2/18/2017), whom Deborah (my wife) and I knew, was the legal pseudo “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade. Before becoming a Christian, McCorvey became a lesbian and ran an abortion clinic; her life was a wreck. McCorvey later in life repented, became an active pro-life Christian and our friend Reverend Flip Benham baptized her. Self-proclaimed feminist liberal lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee were seeking out the perfect case to make abortion legal in America. McCorvey, a single, divorced, alcoholic woman became pregnant with her third child in 1969, wanted to abort her child, but in Texas abortion was illegal, except for the life of the mother. Imagine that; except for California and New York, prior to 1973, abortion was illegal in America, except in the case of the life of the mother (like a tubal pregnancy). It was handled as a Tenth Amendment, states rights issue. McCorvey was not a pretty, eye-candy kind of girl, but rather a downtrodden alcoholic, so the lawyers kept her hidden; she never appeared in press conferences or court and learned later that her case had won before the U.S. Supreme Court. These lawyers used McCorvey. In the media the lawyers said she was raped, which was completely false, but the most outrageous twist of the story is that McCorvey did not abort her third child.

In a 7-2 vote, this activist majority of the U.S. Supreme Court stretched the Fourth Amendment beyond recognition. You almost need to be on a hallucinating drug to understand their logic, because the Fourth Amendment is very narrow in scope and specific to criminal due process, as it relates to unwarranted searches and seizers. While most Americans believe they have a constitutional right to privacy; that notion is completely incorrect. The Fourth Amendment gives “people a right to secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In this case, the court looked from afar at the Fourth Amendment and saw an aura or a penumbra (implied rights) formed by emanations (a flowing) from those guarantees of their radical judicial interpretation of privacy applies to the expecting mother and her unborn child. The vague perceptions of privacy superseded human life. The court also craftily exchanges “life of the mother” with “health of the mother.” In this context, if an expecting mother had mental anguish or regrets of the pregnancy, this met the new definition of “health of the mother.” The 1973 Roe v. Wade case was not only based on fraudulent facts and completely outside the purview of the Fourth Amendment criminal proceeding protections, but it was also a predatory exploitation of a distraught alcoholic woman, who did not have an abortion. However, it became a landmark legal precedent, thus binding the hands of the lower courts. One can now see why there is such an elevated debate over who sits on the high court.

Science has proven many times over that life begins at conception; the moment the egg is fertilized, a blood cell and new life is formed. It is not just mere tissue; it is a baby and a fellow American. Many have attempted to redefine the argument to be a matter of choice, reproductive freedom, or a matter of imposing our religious views or morality on others. This is not a pro-choice position, but pro-abortion. The liberal media calls us anti-abortion, but I submit we are prolife. Please remember that abortion was illegal in this country prior to 1973, so for 197 years abortion was illegal in this country, and the last 45 years are based on a fraudulent case and a grave abuse of the constitution by the activist courts. Let’s keep in mind that the first choice was yielding to engage in sex. There is not even the slightest comparison between human life and abortion or as the spin doctors call it: choice.

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In closing, there is a long standing notion that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights given to us by God, not the state, but Governments were formed to protect and preserve those rights. It may be time for the court to review the definition of human life, with science and facts as the basis.

Please Vote YES on Amendment Two and let’s restore the right to life for all, from conception to natural death.

 

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Opinion | Tough times show what makes our country great

Bradley Byrne

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This year, during the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Memorial Day provided an even more unique opportunity to reflect upon what makes our nation great and the shared values we hold as a people.  Though our celebrations may have been scaled down, the greatness of our country is, in many ways, more apparent in challenging times like these.

The struggles we are going through together as a nation are real and impactful.  The coronavirus overwhelmingly targets seniors and those with preexisting conditions.  As a result, nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been hit hard.  More than 36,000 residents and staff have died after coming down with Covid-19, more than a third of all deaths in our country that have been attributed to the virus.  Sadly, many of our cherished veterans have been among those lost to the virus.  Of all the tributes to those we have lost, the stories of our veterans are especially moving.

But there are bright spots in coronavirus medical research.  Testing quality and access has improved significantly.  And as we learn more about the virus, we are better able to prevent and treat Covid-19.  The hospitalization rate for those diagnosed with the virus is 3.4 percent, and the CDC estimates that 35 percent of all infected people are asymptomatic.  Taking this into account, the infection fatality rate is likely around 0.2 percent or 0.3 percent.  While that is still 2 to 3 times higher than the flu, the coronavirus is nothing like the killer some predicted early on.

Without question, the economy has taken a hit.  Unemployment levels are higher than any time since the Great Depression.  Our small businesses shed more than 11 million jobs in April.  That’s more than half of the 20 million private sector jobs lost last month.  

However, Congressional action to cushion the blow has helped.  More than 4.4 million small businesses have been approved for a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, and over $511 billion has been processed in aid.  In Alabama, at least 60,457 loans have been made for a whopping $6,136,772,466.  The bulk of this aid to small businesses must go towards employee paychecks, ensuring that more Americans are able to keep their jobs.  In addition to the Paycheck Protection Program, nearly 431,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loans have been processed to assist small businesses during this crisis.  Alabama businesses have received 4,728 EIDL loans for $376,897,450.

There is no question that small businesses will face new challenges going forward.  Evolving ways we interact with one another and patronize businesses, including new occupancy limitations, will make staying in business more difficult.  That’s why it is so important for our economy to continue opening sooner rather than later.  You and I can do our part by visiting businesses and restaurants in our community.  Importantly, the foundation of our economy was strong before coronavirus spread prevention measures were enacted nationwide.  So, the country can and will rebound from this.  Prosperity will return.

One only needs to look at what is happening on the other side of the globe to be thankful for our nation.  The brutal Chinese Communist Party, whose mismanagement and dishonesty during the initial outbreak of the virus cost countless lives across the globe, is using the pandemic as an excuse to ramp up authoritarian measures.  The people of Hong Kong are suffering a loss of freedom that dwarfs the sacrifices we have made to stop the spread.

The American people have responded to crisis after crisis with resilience and togetherness, and we will do so again.  We may not have participated in all of our Memorial Day traditions, but we can still honor the fallen by treasuring the country and values they sacrificed to preserve.  That’s what makes our country great.

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Opinion | With COVID-19 policy, don’t blame your umbrella. The rain got you wet

Monica S. Aswani, DrPH, and Ellen Eaton, M.D.

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Monica S. Aswani, DrPH, is an assistant professor of health services administration and Ellen Eaton, M.D., is an assistant professor of infectious diseases.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this perspective are those of the authors.


As states re-open for business, many governors cite the devastating impact of physical distancing policies on local and state economies. Concerns have reached a fever pitch. Many Americans believe the risk of restrictive policies limiting business and social events outweighs the benefit of containing the spread of COVID-19.

But the proposed solution to bolster the economy — re-opening businesses, restaurants and even athletic events — does not address the source of the problem.

A closer look at the origins of our economic distress reminds us that it is COVID-19, not shelter-in-place policy, that is the real culprit. And until we have real solutions to this devastating illness, the threat of economic fallout persists.

Hastily transitioning from stay-at-home to safer-at-home policy is akin to throwing away your umbrella because you are not getting wet.

The novelty of this virus means there are limited strategies to prevent or treat it. Since humans have no immunity to it, and to date, there are no approved vaccines and only limited treatments, we need to leverage the one major tool at our disposal currently: public health practices including physical distancing, hand-washing and masks.

As early hot spots like New York experienced alarming death tolls, states in the Midwest and South benefited from their lessons learned.

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Indeed, following aggressive mandates around physical distancing, the number of cases and hospitalizations observed across the U.S. were initially lower than projected. Similarly, the use of masks has been associated with a reduction in cases globally.

As the death toll surpasses 100,000, the U.S. is reeling from COVID-19 morbidity and mortality. In addition, the U.S. has turned its attention to “hot spots” in Southern states that have an older, sicker and poorer population. And to date, minority and impoverished patients bear the brunt of COVID-19 in the South.

Following the first COVID-19 case in Alabama on March 13, the state has experienced 14,730 confirmed cases, 1,629 hospitalizations and 562 deaths, according to health department data as of Monday afternoon.

Rural areas face an impossible task as many lack a robust health care infrastructure to contend with outbreaks, especially in the wake of recent hospital closures. And severe weather events like tornadoes threaten to divert scarce resources to competing emergencies.

Because public health interventions are the only effective way to limit the spread of COVID-19, all but essential businesses were shuttered in many states. State governments are struggling to process the revenue shortfalls and record surge in unemployment claims that have resulted.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, allocated $150 billion to state governments, with a minimum of $1.25 billion per state. Because the funds were distributed according to population size, 21 states with smaller populations received the minimum of $1.25 billion.

Although states with larger populations, such as Alabama and Louisiana, received higher appropriations in absolute terms, they received less in relative terms given their COVID-19 related medical and financial strain: the CARES Act appropriations do not align resources with state need.

As unemployment trust funds rapidly deplete, these states have a perverse incentive to reopen the economy.

Unemployment claimants who do not return to work due to COVID-19 fears, per the Alabama Department of Labor, can be disqualified from benefits, perpetuating the myth of welfare fraud to vilify those in need.

The United States Department of Labor also emphasized that unemployment fraud is a “top priority” in guidance to states recently.

Prematurely opening the economy before a sustained decline in transmission is likely to refuel the pandemic and, therefore, prolong the recession. Moreover, it compromises the health of those who rely most heavily on public benefits to safely stay home and flatten the curve.

Some would counter this is precisely why we should reopen — for the most vulnerable, who were disproportionately impacted by stay-at-home orders.

The sad reality, however, is that long-standing barriers for vulnerable workers in access to health care, paid sick leave and social mobility pre-date this crisis and persist. And we know that many vulnerable Americans work on the frontlines of foodservice and health care support where the risk from COVID-19 is heightened.

A return to the status quo without addressing this systemic disadvantage will only perpetuate, rather than improve, these unjust social and economic conditions.

COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities in our state and nation, and re-opening businesses will not provide a simple solution to our complex economic problems.

No one would toss out their umbrella after several sunny days so why should America abandon public health measures now? After all, rain is unpredictable and inevitable just like the current COVID-19 crisis.

The threat of COVID-19 resurgence will persist until we have effective preventive and treatment options for this novel infectious disease.

So let’s not blame or, worse, discard the umbrella. Instead, peek out cautiously, survey the sky and start planning now to protect the vulnerable, who will be the first to get wet.

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Opinion | Cleaner air during pandemic shows need for alternative fuels, electric vehicles

Mark Bentley and Phillip Wiedmeyer

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Photos of a smogless Los Angeles skyline set against a brilliant blue sky have emerged as an iconic image to showcase the impact of decreased air pollution during America’s COVID-19 quarantine.

Similar photos from around the world, including what are usually smog-filled cities in India, China and Europe, provide a glimpse of a world with improved air quality.

It’s no secret that poor air quality has historically been caused by traffic, but due to tighter regulations by the federal government, industries’ contribution to pollution has decreased significantly. Scientific research is beginning to show how social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders have created an unintended consequence of improving worldwide air quality.

For nearly two decades, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition has been advocating to improve Alabama’s air quality by increasing the use of cleaner alternative fuels and expanding the market for advanced technology vehicles. Cleaner burning alternative transportation fuel options like biodiesel, ethanol, propane and natural gas also reduce pollution just like electric vehicles.

Air pollution remains a global public health crisis, as the World Health Organization estimates it kills seven million people worldwide annually.

But is the COVID-19 pandemic showing us the wisdom of transitioning to cleaner vehicles, whether electric vehicles with drastically lower emissions or vehicles using cleaner-burning alternative fuels? The answer is an emphatic yes.

Recent research shows global carbon dioxide emission had fallen by 17 percent by early April when compared to mean 2019 levels. In some areas, including the United States and the United Kingdom, emissions have fallen by a third, thanks largely to people driving less, according to research published in Nature Climate Change.

Numerous organizations, including NASA, continue to study the environmental, societal and economic impacts of the pandemic, and researchers view recent air quality gains as promising evidence that the use of alternative vehicles could have long-term positive impacts.

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“If I could wave my magic wand and we all had electric cars tomorrow, I think this is what the air would look like,” Ronald Cohen, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at UC Berkeley who studies the effects of the stay-at-home orders on air quality, told the Los Angeles Times.

Wider use of electric vehicles and the other domestically produced alternative fuels would lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil while also helping our environment. Poor air quality already causes negative consequences for millions of Americans.

Alabama could also see economic benefits from increased production of electric vehicles, with Honda, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz operating plants in the state and working hard to produce the next wave of electric vehicles. As part of a $1 billion investment in Alabama, Mercedes began construction of a high-voltage battery plant in Bibb County in 2018 for its all-electric EQ brand of vehicles, as well as batteries for its hybrid plug-ins.

“This is a teaching moment,” Viney Aneja, an air quality professor in the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University told the Raleigh News and Observer. “We should learn from it. We should promote behavior that will allow air quality to be as good as it is outside right now.”

This is a prime opportunity for America to embrace alternative and cleaner-burning transportation fuels, as well as electric vehicles, while also decreasing reliance on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home.

It could also make those picturesque photos of the big-city skylines become commonplace instead of a rarity.

Mark Bentley has served as the executive director of the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition since August 2006.

Phillip Wiedmeyer serves as the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition’s chairman of the board of directors and president and is one of the ACFC’s original founders. He also serves as the executive director of the Applied Research Center of Alabama, a non-profit dedicated to public policy issues impacting Alabama’s growth, economic development and business climate.

About the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition

Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. ACFC was incorporated in 2002 as an Alabama 501c3 non-profit, received designation U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program in 2009 and was re-designated in 2014. A national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions brings together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging transportation technologies. To learn more, visit www.alabamacleanfuels.com.

 

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Opinion | Electric vehicles next wave to drive Alabama’s continued auto-manufacturing success

Gerald Allen

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Alabama has long been a leader in the automotive manufacturing sector in the United States and, now, we have the opportunity to sustain that momentum for years to come through significant investments in the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Dating back to 1993 when Mercedes-Benz announced their opening of their only U.S.-based assembly plant in Tuscaloosa County, our state has continued to provide a favorable business climate that has helped recruit Hyundai, Honda, Toyota and Mazda. The substantial investments of these companies have only furthered economic activity through the numerous tier 1 and tier 2 automotive suppliers that have also located to our state.

Combined, these Alabama-based automakers and suppliers produced nearly 1.6 million engines in 2018 and created over 40,000 automotive manufacturing jobs. Alabama currentlyranks as the number three autoexporting state in the country, andexports of Alabama-made vehicles and parts totaled $7.5 billion in 2018.

Now, as we continue toward a 21stcentury transportation system and economy, we must acknowledge – and prepare for – the electric vehicle wave that is coming.

Significant research shows that consumer interest in electric vehicles is exponentially on the rise and so is theproduction of EVs by manufacturers. Globally, total EV sales surpassed 1 million vehicles in 2017, then quickly doubled to cruise past 2 million in 2018 and that number is expected to double again in 2020 to reach 4 million total sales. According to a Deloitte report, it is expected that global EV sales will top 21 million by 2031.

In recognition of the growth in EV sales, Mercedes-Benz broke ground in the fall of 2018 in Bibb County to build a plant producing high-voltage batteries for the all-electric EQ brand of Mercedes vehicles, as well as batteries for Mercedes hybrid plug-ins. This project alone is well over a billion-dollar investment in Bibb County and, with it, Mercedes has now invested more than $6 billion in its operations here in the state.

We know that expanding EV sales andproduction in Alabama will require anumber of investments from the industry, the legislature and eventually theconsumers of this state. To cement our reputation as a forward-leaning automotive leader, we must prepare for the future of electric vehicles, production of electric vehicles parts and ensure the necessary EV infrastructure is in place to be competitive for generations. Doing so will show that our state supports this burgeoning sector of automotive manufacturing and help recruit even more of these projects that will provide numerous high-paying jobs and produce significant economic benefits.

The Rebuild Alabama Infrastructure Plan, approved legislatively in 2019, provided a foundational first step as it included a provision that helps propel Alabama toward the cutting-edge of EV infrastructure. The landmark legislation established a grant program that proactively facilitates the installation of new EV charging stations across the state. These stations will supplement the Electrify America charging stations currently being installed in the state and add to Alabama’s EV infrastructure.

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Additionally, the full body of the state Senate and our colleagues in the House have shown a commitment to the expansion of EV production in Alabama with a $2 million investment in this year’s budgets to educate and promote the use of electric vehicles to the public. We believe this will further Alabama’s reputation as a premier automotive manufacturing state as these funds will go toward developing an EV industry educational website with mapping of charging stations and other useful resources, as well as funding to further build out  Alabama’s EV charging infrastructure.

Mercedes-Benz has been a game changer for our state. With their initial investment in 1993 to their significant investments in EV batteries, it’s clear the electric vehicle wave is coming and, with it, significant opportunities for automotive manufacturing growth in Alabama. Now is the time for us to show our state’s ongoing ingenuity by supporting this sector’s transformation to electric vehicle production with these significant investments and overall support of the growing EV industry.

Gerald Allen is a member of the Alabama State Senate, R-Tuscaloosa, representing District 21. Senator Allen can be reached at [email protected].

 

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