A leading pro-life voice

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 17th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Pro-life politics.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is a family man and evangelical Christian. He’s also one of three physicians in the U.S. Senate. That makes him a leading voice on pro-life issues.

EICHER: Cassidy recently sat down with WORLD Radio’s J.C. Derrick to talk about the formation of his pro-life views and the science behind them.

DERRICK: Well, I’d like to start by just asking about how you became pro-life.

CASSIDY: I prayed to receive Christ when I was in ninth grade, but I cannot say that’s when I became pro-life, not because of any other reason than I’m not sure I particularly thought about it. But certainly, as I understood more and more about biology–I am a doctor, and I value life and you value those who are most vulnerable.

And then when you go to medical school and you start realizing that the unborn child is an unborn child. It’s not just a clump of cells. And now folks talk about the ultrasound showing that the child’s got a face and a thumb and a toe and you name it, all the body parts, even when it’s so small—when you’re in medical school, you know that. You don’t need an ultrasound because perhaps you see a child that is preserved after dying because the mother was in a car wreck or something.

So, I think that awareness of the child being a child even when in the womb, added to, again, we’re told to care for the most vulnerable, kind of brought it to the pro-life position.

DERRICK: You mentioned your faith in Christ. Can you tell me about your spiritual journey? Were you raised in a Christian home or what?

CASSIDY: Yes. My family was Episcopalian and my mother and father went to church weekly. And I was in Sunday school…

And then in high school, began to attend a Bible study in which people did have a relationship with God, and I was able to kind of explore that with them, have my questions answered, and understood that we are sinners separated from God by our sin. But that through the work of Jesus, we can be reconciled. What a great message. And so in high school was when I became a Christian, and God has been so faithful ever since.

DERRICK: Back to medical school. You mentioned how that really solidified or formed your pro-life views. Were there any elements of that, whether it be at a certain professor or anything else that challenged your pro-life views?

CASSIDY: Well, if (you mean) “call into doubt,” I would say no, but if you mean kind of this is information you have, there’s that constant information. But that’s true of all aspects of our faith. Our faith is constantly being challenged by lots of different things, and I think that this issue is no different.

By the way, my wife’s also a physician, and she came to her pro-life position, I think, in the same way. So the more you know about biology, the more you know about how this is the distinct genetic human being, then the more you kind of are aware of that.

DERRICK: Well, and on that note, let’s talk a little bit more about the science. Obviously since 1973 when Roe v. Wade came down, the advancements in technology are just dramatic. And so can you talk about some of the changes since then and what you view as the most compelling a biological evidence for the pro-life view?

CASSIDY: Well, obviously, a child born at 20 weeks now can survive. That’s not always been the case, and if that child survives, that child will grow to be an adult. And so I don’t think we have to say, well, it’s only up until a certain point. Well, that certain point is now 20 weeks, which is pretty early in the pregnancy.

So, it kinda goes back to before people were told it’s just a clump of tissue and now it’s an individual that if born at age 20 weeks can then survive even though a normal pregnancy is 40 weeks. There’s just increasing evidence  that’s generally available to the lay public, not just to healthcare. And I think that’s why we’re seeing attitudes towards life continue to evolve in the positive direction.

DERRICK: Recently there’s been some stories about purportedly pro-life lawmakers who sort of in their own personal situations, encouraged someone to have an abortion close to them. Can you talk about that in the context of, I guess, just what’s the difference between being convictionally pro-life and just simply holding it as a political position?

CASSIDY: Yeah. Life’s complicated, but if this is truly a life—and it is—then that should trump other issues. And life is blessed.

So, even a situation which seems at first fearful and “I can’t go there” turns out to be joyful. And boy am I glad I did. Anyone that’s going to a crisis pregnancy center will hear story after story about that. Anyone who understands that they or another has adopted a child, the child may have been conceived in circumstances which were not ideal and not planned, but the adoption of that child has meant so much joy to so many people.

DERRICK: I know you’ve been involved in or you were involved in a pressuring the administration to cut Title X funding for abortion providers, which is one of the prime funding sources for Planned Parenthood. Can you talk about where that effort is in terms of implementation and where we are right now?

CASSIDY: Yeah. So the administration has been supportive of this. There’s something that has arisen in the past where there’s co-location of abortion services and family planning. Now technically, Title X [regulations] say Planned Parenthood is not supposed to to just be able to say, okay, abortion is family planning. You have an unplanned pregnancy, so walk down the hall. In reality they’ve been allowed to co-locate. And so although theoretically they are distinct, in reality that distinction seems to be blurred.

So I think something we should push is to end that co-location. If you’re truly not going to link family planning with referring somebody for abortion, let’s move the one out of the building so that there’s no confusion and no temptation to be confused. So that’s probably the next place we’re going on that.

DERRICK: Okay. And are those conversations ongoing I assume?


(Photo/Bill Clark, CQ Roll Call, Getty Images)

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