Tag Archives: Unborn Child

A simple case for the pro-life position by Scott Klusendorf

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this study
I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this message

Are you able to make a basic case for the pro-life view?

Here’s a short 38-lecture by Scott Klusendorf, president of the Life Training Institute.

This is a long treatment that talks about the challenge of moral relativism and the case for the pro-life view. He does show a clip of abortion in the video to the audience.

There’s also a 35-minute audio recording of Scott on the LTI web site. (H/T Apologetics 315) You can put that on your podcast player and listen to it. Listen to it a lot and soon you’ll sound like Scott.

Scott also has an article posted on the LTI web site for those who don’t have time for the video or the audio.

In the article makes three points:

  1. Clarify the issue
  2. Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy
  3. Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest

Here’s the second point:

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4

Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.

As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.

Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

That’s the core of the basic pro-life case right there. There’s also a good interview of Mr. Klusendorf that I blogged about.

Advanced Objections

You can learn more by reading basic pro-life apologetics… from Francis Beckwith. You might recognize Frank Beckwith as the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal.

Here are four essays that answer common arguments in favor of legalized abortion.

Here’s an excerpt from Part II:


A woman who becomes pregnant due to an act of either rape or incest is the victim of a horribly violent and morally reprehensible crime. Although pregnancy as a result of either rape or incest is extremely rare, [1] there is no getting around the fact that pregnancy does occur in some instances.

[…]Despite its forceful appeal to our sympathies, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not relevant to the case for abortion on demand, the position defended by the popular pro-choice movement. This position states that a woman has a right to have an abortion for any reason she prefers during the entire nine months of pregnancy, whether it be for gender-selection, convenience, or rape. [3] To argue for abortion on demand from the hard cases of rape and incest is like trying to argue for the elimination of traffic laws from the fact that one might have to violate some of them in rare circumstances, such as when one’s spouse or child needs to be rushed to the hospital. Proving an exception does not establish a general rule.

[…]Fourth, this argument begs the question by assuming that the unborn is not fully human. For if the unborn is fully human, then we must weigh the relieving of the woman’s mental suffering against the right-to-life of an innocent human being. And homicide of another is never justified to relieve one of emotional distress. Although such a judgment is indeed anguishing, we must not forget that the same innocent unborn entity that the career-oriented woman will abort in order to avoid interference with a job promotion is biologically and morally indistinguishable from the unborn entity that results from an act of rape or incest. And since abortion for career advancement cannot be justified if the unborn entity is fully human, abortion cannot be justified in the cases of rape and incest. In both cases abortion results in the death of an innocent human life. As Dr. Bernard Nathanson has written, “The unwanted pregnancy flows biologically from the sexual act, but not morally from it.” [5]Hence, this argument, like the ones we have already covered in this series, is successful only if the unborn are not fully human.

Scott Klusendorf wrote the The Case for Life, which is the best book for beginners on the pro-life view. For those looking for advanced resources, Francis Beckwith, a professor at Baylor University, published the book Defending Life, with Cambridge University Press, 2007.

I found a very polished hour-long talk by Scott on Viemo. That talk was delivered to students and faculty at Furman University.

Finally, if you want to see Scott Klusendorf in a debate with a former ACLU executive, you can see it right here.

My friend Papa Georgio sent me a post that features THREE talks by Scott Klusendorf. (H/T Religio-Political Talk)

If unborn babies don’t have consciousness or don’t feel pain, may we kill them?

Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics
Unborn baby scheming about pro-life apologetics

Was having a conversation by e-mail yesterday with a pro-abortion atheist, and he gave two reasons why he supported abortion in the first and second trimester. First, he said that unborn babies can’t feel pain, so it’s OK to kill them. Second, he said that unborn babies don’t have consciousness, so it’s OK to kill them. I thought it might be useful to link to something that answers both of these objections.

Frank Beckwith is the author of “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“. He wrote that book for Cambridge University Press, a top academic press. But before Cambridge University Press, Beckwith wrote four easy-to-understand essays for the Christian Research Journal. Part IV is the one that has the response to the two questions raised by my atheist friend.

Part I. The Appeal to Pity

Part II. Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem

Part III. Is The Unborn Human Less Than Human?

Part IV. When Does a Human Become a Person?


Some ethicists argue that the unborn becomes fully human sometime after brain development has begun, when it becomes sentient: capable of experiencing sensations such as pain. The reason for choosing sentience as the criterion is that a being that cannot experience anything (i.e., a presentient unborn entity) cannot be harmed. Of course, if this position is correct, then the unborn becomes fully human probably during the second trimester and at least by the third trimester. Therefore, one does not violate anyone’s rights when one aborts a nonsentient unborn entity. [13]

There are several problems with this argument. First, it confuses harm with hurt and the experience of harm with the reality of harm. [14] One can be harmed without experiencing the hurt that sometimes follows from that harm, and which we often mistake for the harm itself. For example, a temporarily comatose person who is suffocated to death “experiences no harm,” but he is nevertheless harmed. Hence, one does not have to experience harm, which is sometimes manifested in hurt, in order to be truly harmed.

Second, if sentience is the criterion of full humanness, then the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious, and the sleeping would all have to be declared nonpersons. Like the presentient unborn, these individuals are all at the moment nonsentient though they have the natural inherent capacity to be sentient. Yet to countenance their executions would be morally reprehensible. Therefore, one cannot countenance the execution of some unborn entities simply because they are not currently sentient.

Someone may reply that while these objections make important points, there is a problem of false analogy in the second objection: the reversibly comatose, the momentarily unconscious, and the sleeping once functioned as sentient beings, though they are now in a temporary state of nonsentience. The presentient unborn, on the other hand, were never sentient. Hence, one is fully human if one was sentient “in the past” and will probably become sentient again in the future, but this cannot be said of the presentient unborn.

There are at least three problems with this response. First, to claim that a person can be sentient, become nonsentient, and then return to sentience is to assume there is some underlying personal unity to this individual that enables us to say that the person who has returned to sentience is the same person who was sentient prior to becoming nonsentient. But this would mean that sentience is not a necessary condition for personhood. (Neither is it a sufficient condition, for that matter, since nonhuman animals are sentient.) Consequently, it does not make sense to say that a person comes into existence when sentience arises, but it does make sense to say that a fully human entity is a person who has the natural inherent capacity to give rise to sentience. A presentient unborn human entity does have this capacity. Therefore, an ordinary unborn human entity is a person, and hence, fully human.

Second, Ray points out that this attempt to exclude many of the unborn from the class of the fully human is “ad hoc and counterintuitive.” He asks us to “consider the treatment of comatose patients. We would not discriminate against one merely for rarely or never having been sentient in the past while another otherwise comparable patient had been sentient….In such cases, potential counts for everything.” [15]

Third, why should sentience “in the past” be the decisive factor in deciding whether an entity is fully human when the presentient human being “is one with a natural, inherent capacity for performing personal acts?” [16] Since we have already seen that one does not have to experience harm in order to be harmed, it seems more consistent with our moral sensibilities to assert that what makes it wrong to kill the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, the momentarily unconscious, and the presentient unborn is that they all possess the natural inherent capacity to perform personal acts. And what makes it morally right to kill plants and to pull the plug on the respirator-dependent brain dead, who were sentient “in the past,” is that their deaths cannot deprive them of their natural inherent capacity to function as persons, since they do not possess such a capacity.

These four essays are a very good introduction to common responses to pro-abortion arguments. I recommend that people get familiar with this, as once you look into it, you will see that the abortion issue can be debated with as much confidence as William Lane Craig defends Christian theism. You will have the same access to scientific evidence and rational arguments on this topic, and so you will have the upper hand. And that’s fun.

The best introductory book on the abortion / right to life issue is “The Case for Life” by pro-life debater Scott Klusendorf. The best comprehensive book is a tie between “The Ethics of Abortion” by Christopher Kaczor, and Frank Beckwith’s “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice“.

Mississippi Republican governor signs ban on dismemberment abortions

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this study
I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this law

Great news from Life News about another pro-life measure signed into law by a Republican governor.


Mississippi is the latest state to approve legislation that would ban dismemberment abortions tearing unborn babies limb from limb. Today, pro-life Governor Phil Bryant signed the bill into law.

House Bill 519 authored by Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb had overwhelming support in the legislature passing the House on a vote of 85-32 and in the Senate 40-6.

Dismemberment abortion, performed on a fully-formed, living unborn baby, is a barbaric and dangerous procedure in which the unborn child is literally ripped apart in the womb and pulled out in pieces. The law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee that would ban “dismemberment abortion,” using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a living unborn baby to remove him or her from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are used in dilation and evacuation procedures.

[…]“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said National Right to Life Director of State Legislation Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. “Before the first trimester ends, the unborn child has a beating heart, brain waves, and every organ system in place. Dismemberment abortions occur after the baby has reached these milestones.”

[…]“When abortion textbooks describe in cold, explicit detail exactly how to kill a human being by ripping off arms and legs piece by piece, civilized members of society have no choice but to stand up and demand a change,” added Spaulding Balch. “When you think it can’t be uglier, the abortion industry continues to shock with violent methods of abortion.”

I read a couple of mainstream news articles (e.g. – ABC News) about this story, and they basically read like they were written by Planned Parenthood. Everything about the woman, and nothing about the unborn baby. So, I always end up linking to Life News instead of the mainstream media, at least there, they talk about the issue considering the unborn child and the mother.

I don’t think that it’s normal or natural to be tearing unborn humans up with instruments because we don’t want responsibility for our actions. If you consent the the actions that result in conception, you have to take responsibility for what you’ve done. You can’t commit murder in order to get out of it. You have to think of that unborn person above yourself. Our laws should protect that unborn person, and Mississippi did the right thing.

Scott Klusendorf defends the pro-life view on the Unbelievable radio show

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I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve of this debate

Here are the details:

The abortion debate reared its head again this summer after controversial tweets by Richard Dawkins made the news.

Justin hosts a discussion between Mara Clarke of the Abortion Support Network and Scott Klusendorf of the Life Training Instititute. Mara believes women need to be decide whether to terminate a pregnancy, but Scott says that all depends on whether we are dealing with a human life in the womb.

MP3 of this show:


My snarky paraphrase of the debate (not exact):

  • Speaker introductions
  • Klusendorf: no justification for abortion is necessary if the unborn are not human
  • Klusendorf: we need to address the issue “what is the unborn?” Are the unborn human?
  • Klusendorf: SLED: size, level of development, environment, degree of dependency
  • Klusendorf: None of these things affect the value of a human being
  • Klusendorf: Even if we don’t KNOW whether the unborn is human
  • Mara: I’m not going to debate when life begins
  • Mara: Women know when life begins by feelings
  • Mara: The moral decision is “whether I can take care of this child?”
  • Brierley: When is an unborn being human?
  • Mara: I refuse to debate that – the real question is whether women want their babies or not
  • Mara: Forced pregnancy is not OK
  • Brierley: Could your justification for abortion (not wanting to care for a child) work through all 9 months?
  • Mara: Late term abortions are rare, so I don’t have to answer that question
  • Mara: Abortion should be OK through all 9 months of pregnancy because women cannot be restricted
  • Mara: Some women are poor, they need to be able to kill expensive babies at any time
  • Klusendorf: although she says she won’t debate the unborn, she does take a position
  • Klusendorf: she assumes the unborn is not human, because she says that insufficient funds is justification for abortion
  • Klusendorf: no one argues that you can kill a two year old because they cost money, because she thinks they are human
  • Klusendorf: she is begging the question by assuming the unborn are not human, but that is the issue we must resolve
  • Klusendorf: I am pro-choice on many other things, e.g. women choosing their own husbands, religion, etc.
  • Klusendorf: Some choices are wrong – Mara might be right, but she needs to make the case for the unborn not being human
  • Brierley: What is your reason for thinking that an unborn child is different from a 2-year old?
  • Mara: An unborn child is not the same as a 2-year old, in my personal opinion
  • Mara: I am not a debater, so I don’t have to provide reasoning for my assertion, I just feel it
  • Mara: Not everybody agrees with Scott, they don’t have to have a rational argument, they just need to feel differently
  • Mara: From my experience, when a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, then she should be able to not be pregnant
  • Mara: Women shouldn’t be punished with a baby that she doesn’t want, even if she chooses to have recreational sex
  • Brierley: What do you think of women who think the unborn is human and do it anyway?
  • Klusendorf: It’s interesting that they never kill their toddlers for those reasons
  • Klusendorf: I layed out scientific and philosophical reasons for the humanity of the unborn
  • Klusendorf: Her response was “but some people disagree with you”
  • Klusendorf: People disagreed about whether slavery was wrong, or whether women should be able to vote
  • Klusendorf: that doesn’t mean there is no right answer – the right answer depends on the arguments
  • Klusendorf: if absence of agreement makes a view false, then it makes HER pro-choice view false as well
  • Klusendorf: she did make an argument for the unborn child having no rights because of the location
  • Klusendorf: she needs to explain to us why location matters – what about location confers value
  • Mara: I’m not going to let Scott frame my debate for me!!!
  • Mara: women get pregnant and they don’t want their babies! should we put them in jail!!!!
  • Klusendorf: I didn’t just give my opinion, I had science and philosophy, the issue is “what is the unborn?”
  • Mara: philosophical and scientific debates are unimportant, I am an expert in real women’s lives
  • Klusendorf: Which women? Women in the womb or only those outside the womb?
  • Mara: Only those outside the womb
  • Klusendorf: Only those outside the womb?
  • Mara: Women living outside the womb have a right to kill women inside the womb – women have bodily autonomy
  • Klusendorf: then does a pregnant woman with nausea have a right to take a drug for it that will harm her unborn child?
  • Mara: Unborn children are only valuable if they are wanted, unborn children only deserve protection if they are wanted
  • Mara: There are restrictions on abortion – you can’t get an abortion through all nine months in the US
  • Mara: There is a 24-week limit in the UK as well
  • Klusendorf: There are no restrictions on abortion that conflict with “a woman’s health” because Supreme Court said
  • Mara: where are these late term abortion clinics?
  • Klusendorf: (he names two)
  • Mara: that’s not enough!!! we need more! where is there one in Pennsylvania?
  • Klusendorf: well, there used to be Gosnell’s clinic in Pennsylvania, and you could even get an infanticide there….
  • Brierley: What about Dawkins’ view that it is moral to abort Down’s Syndrome babies?
  • Klusendorf: he is ignoring the scientific case and philosophical case for the pro-life
  • Klusendorf: the pro-life view is a true basis for human equality

What I wanted Scott to ask was whether sex-selection abortions were OK with her. Since her reasoning is “if it’s unwanted, it has no rights”, then that would mean sex-selection abortions are just fine. That’s what a UK abortion expert recently argued. And I also posted recently about how sex-selection abortions are not prosecuted in the UK. If you’re looking for a war on women, there it is.

Republican governors signing pro-life legislation in several states

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I’m Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve of red state legislatures and governors

For the rest of Easter weekend, I have scheduled 5 posts on the resurrection. But this post is all about the wonderful pro-life legislation that our Republican governors and legislatures are enacting into law in red states.

Let’s start with something from last month, with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

Life Site News reports:

Kentucky governor Matt Bevin promised to make pro-life issues a top priority, and Tuesday he made good on his promise.

Matt Bevin signed an informed consent bill requiring that biological facts and medical information be given to mothers in person or by real-time video at least 24 hours before an abortion.

“The overwhelming support for Senate Bill 4 in the Kentucky legislature is a positive step toward protecting the emotional and physical health and safety of women,” Bevin said in a statement before signing the bill.

Bill supporters say the reason the bill was necessary is because many abortionists circumvent the law by having mothers listen to a prerecorded message over the phone.

[…]Gov. Bevin chose this as the very first bill he signed into law. He put his signature to it as soon as legislators delivered it to him. The bill informing mothers of the medical and biological facts related to gestation and abortion becomes the Bluegrass State’s first new pro-life law in twelve years.

Pro-life legislation was previously roadblocked by the Democrat-controlled state House.

Here’s one from earlier this month, from South Dakota Governor Dennis Gaugaard.

Life News reports:

South Dakota just became the next state to protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.

On Thursday, Gov. Dennis Gaugaard signed into law a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks and penalize doctors who do late-term abortions in non-emergency situations, the Argus Leader reports. Penalties for violations of the law include up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, according to the report. The only exceptions would be in certain medical emergency cases, the report states.

[…]The state House passed the pro-life measure last week, LifeNews reported.

South Dakota has one abortion clinic left, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls that does abortions up to 14 weeks; however, the new bill would ensure that later abortions will not be done in the future in the state. More than 18,000 very late-term abortions are performed every year on perfectly healthy unborn babies in America.

[…]The bill is modeled after the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which has become law in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The next one is from Indiana, where pro-life Governor Mike Pence signed a pro-life bill into law this week. This bill will prevent abortions of babies who are the “wrong sex”, the “wrong race”, or who have disabilities such as Down syndrome.

Life News reports:

Indiana has become the second state in the nation, following North Dakota, to ban abortions on babies who are diagnosed in the womb as having Down syndrome. Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill today to protect unborn babies from being aborted simply because of a disability, race or sex.

Pence signed House Bill 1337, which would ban abortion doctors from knowingly aborting an unborn baby solely because of a genetic disability such as Down syndrome, the unborn baby’s race or sex. The bill also has several other abortion-related measures, including a requirement that aborted or miscarried babies’ bodies be cremated or buried and another requirement that abortionists who have hospital admitting privileges renew them annually. The burial/cremation requirement backs up a law passed in 2015 by Gov. Pence requiring that aborted babies’ bodies be disposed of in a humane way.

“Throughout my public career, I have stood for the sanctity of life. HEA 1337 is a comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life, which is why I signed it into law today,” Governor Pence said in a statement.

Pence continued: “I believe that a society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable—the aged, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn. HEA 1337 will ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry, or disability, including Down syndrome.”

The next one concerns Arizona, where pro-life Governor Doug Ducey is set to sign three pro-life bills into law.

Life News reports:

Three pro-life bills are on their way through the Arizona legislature and soon could be on Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.

On Wednesday, the Arizona House gave preliminary approval to the bills, and a final vote is expected on Thursday, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The bills, already passed in the state Senate, would regulate the use of dangerous chemical abortion drugs, ban the trafficking of aborted babies’ body parts and remove abortion groups from the state employee charitable giving program.

Specifically, state Senate Bill 1324 would ban dangerous chemical abortions after the seventh week of pregnancy, as the drug label recommends. Abortion clinics often use the chemical abortion drug regimen RU-486 later in pregnancy and give smaller doses than recommended, likely in an effort to save money.

[…]The second bill, state Senate Bill 1474, would end the inhumane treatment of aborted babies’ bodies by abortion clinics and research facilities. Arizona state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, introduced the bill earlier this year, saying she was “shocked” by the undercover videos by the Center for Medical Progress showing top Planned Parenthood officials selling aborted babies’ body parts.

[…]The final bill, Arizona Senate Bill 1485, would ban abortion groups from the state employee charitable giving program. The ban is a continuation of a move last year by Gov. Ducey to kick out Planned Parenthood from the program.

[…]State legislators in the Senate also are considering a separate bill that would make it easier to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

The fourth story is about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who recently endorsed Ted Cruz for President.

The Daily Wire reports:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who is openly pro-life, will sign a bill into law that would ban killing babies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The bill, titled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, was already passed by the South Dakota legislature on March 9; it has already been made law in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Nebraska was the first state to pass the law, in 2010.

Last September, Senate Democrats blocked the Senate’s version of the bill, as the vote was in favor, 54-42, but fell short of a 60-vote sum that would have prevented a filibuster. Ted Cruz voted for the bill while Bernie Sanders opposed the bill; Hillary Clinton has opposed the measure.

[…]In 2012, Haley signed the Opt Out of Abortion Act and the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act would protect unborn children who are born alive after a failed abortion but would be left to die afterward.

And finally, for those who like some religious liberty along with their defending the lives of unborn children, Campus Reform reports that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed into law a bill to protect the religious liberty of student groups on public university campuses.

It was a great week!