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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

Liberty Counsel Condemns the Inhuman Treatment of Unborn Children

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 16, 2017

ATLANTA, GA — Today Liberty Counsel files an amicus brief in the case of West Alabama Women’s Center v. Miller defending the Alabama law that prohibits dismemberment abortions of live unborn babies, known as Dilation and Extraction (D&E), based on the medical evidence of their ability to feel intense pain.

Liberty Counsel’s brief lists ample evidence that unborn babies feel pain. “[I]t is entirely uncontested that a fetus experiences pain in some capacity, from as early as 8 weeks of development.” testified Dr. Maureen Condic before U.S. legislators. Early on in fetal development pain transmitters in the spinal cord are abundant, but pain inhibitors are sparse until later, according to Dr. Colleen Malloy. This medical information shows that premature infants have greater pain sensitivity than do full-term infants. Another demonstration of this is how premature babies actually require greater concentrations of medication to maintain effective anesthesia during surgery than full-term babies, as explained in the book Neonatal Pain.

If the vilest criminal has human dignity that protects him from an inhuman, painful punishment, then how much more should our laws protect an innocent unborn child that science proves is inherently human and experiences significant pain? Dr. Condic states “[I]gnoring the pain experienced by another human individual for any reason is barbaric.”

Doctors performing the D&E abortions are acutely affected by the child’s humanity and experience deep emotions and even nightmares. One deeply pro-choice abortionist was brought to tears when her own unborn child kicked at the exact same time that she severed another’s foot in a D&E abortion. “Instantly, tears were streaming from my eyes” said Dr. Lisa Harris. “It was an overwhelming feeling – a brutally visceral response – heartfelt and unmediated by my training or my feminist pro-choice politics.”

“We give our pets greater legal protections than we provide to the future citizens of America who have proven their humanity and their sensitivity to pain,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.  “Alabama’s law is a common sense solution to a barbaric and gruesome procedure,” said Staver.

Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.

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Do Women Deserve the Highest Standards of Care? Not if You Ask Planned Parenthood

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on November 17, 2015

PLANNEDPARENT

“At Planned Parenthood, we work every day to make sure women receive the high quality health care they need in a safe, respectful environment- including abortion care. Ensuring the health and safety of our patients is central to our mission and fundamental to every person who works at Planned Parenthood.”

So said one Planned Parenthood executive in a cut-and-paste comment last year, the kind you’ll see – nearly or perfectly verbatim – from the abortion giant’s various affiliates across the country.

Indeed, another affiliate (after parroting the exact quote above) boasts of its “rigorous medical standards and guidelines” and “rigorous standards and training for staff as well as emergency plans in place, because women’s safety is our first priority.”

Admirable aspirations, signifying a commitment to patient care that transcends all other concerns and animates the very soul of the organization, right?

Hardly. This is Planned Parenthood. And today the mask slips again.

The U.S Supreme Court announced that it would hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case out of Texas which will be the first major abortion case before the high court in nearly a decade.

At issue is a Texas law known as House Bill 2 which requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers. For example, hallways at abortion businesses must be wide enough to maneuver a gurney, should a women in medical distress need to be moved through the facility.

The law also includes a provision that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. As it stands, if a woman is the victim of a botched abortion or needs hospital care as a result of one of numerous potential post-abortion complications, the abortionist without admitting privileges washes his hands of the patient and leaves her to seek care with another medical staff in another medical facility which receives the woman sight unseen and unfamiliar with necessary details of her progress to this urgent state. A knowledge gap like this can be a matter of life and death.

ADF, along with several pro-life allies, filed a brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit explaining that the “focus of the constitutionality [of the law] is on the treatment of women . . . . Texas, as many other States, has clearly recognized the risks associated with both surgical and medication abortions and has taken steps to regulate these abortions to minimize these known and potential risks and to protect women’s health and safety. Texas now is (and should continue to be) permitted to do so.”

In its opinion, the Fifth Circuit agreed, writing that the evidence demonstrates that “the State truly intends that women only receive an abortion in facilities that can provide the highest quality of care and safety—the stated legitimate purpose of H.B. 2.”

You’d think that Planned Parenthood, for all its talk of “women’s safety” and “rigorous medical standards,” would be the sponsors of this law and vigorous advocates of its affirmation in federal court.

Again, this is Planned Parenthood. Instead of celebrating the Texas legislature’s common sense move to make sure that women seeking abortions aren’t entering another Kermit Gosnell house of horrors, Planned Parenthood and its allies pressed play on its favorite talking points mix tape: “Cut off access”…“hurt women”…“#undueburden”…“attack”…“draconian law” (not sure they know what “draconian” means)…“forcing these women to carry their pregnancies to term against their will”… and so on.

Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion-industrial complex have insisted, all the way up to the Supreme Court, that abortionists should not be held to the same standards as everyone else . . . and that the women who enter their doors don’t really deserve the highest level of care.

Let’s hope that when the Supreme Court hears the case in the spring and decides it by the beginning of summer it rules that states can protect women, even over the protests of the abortion industry.

Planned Parenthood, for its millions in marketing and meticulous corporate message control, is having a harder time passing itself off as the tender-hearted, indispensable women’s health champion. Its opposition to a common sense law that says all women deserve the highest standard of safety and care (even in an abortion clinic where no one is truly safe and cared-for) and that holds abortion businesses to the same standards as other medical clinics again exposes the irreconcilability of Planned Parenthood’s words and actions.

Courtesy of http://www.adflegal.org/detailspages/blog-details/allianceedge/2015/11/16/do-women-deserve-the-highest-standards-of-care-not-if-you-ask-planned-parenthood

 

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Planned Parenthood: How Much Longer?

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 18, 2015

full_planned-parenthood-how-much-longerIn one sense, there are really just two types of people when it comes to the topic of abortion: those who think it is okay to kill unborn babies, and those who think it’s wrong. If you don’t think you’re in one of these categories, you still are; you’re just confused.

Confusion, though, isn’t the most terrible thing. It means there is still hope, and in fact, this hopeful condition likely characterizes the general public of the United States. Most people don’t have a deep conviction about unborn babies. Most people don’t even think about unborn babies unless it’s an election year or the news runs a story. Even most who support abortion could only repeat the rhetoric they’ve heard from devotees.

And therefore, if confusion is what’s really popular, the question becomes:

What will it take for abortion activists to convince the general public that their position is a psychotic threat to humanity?

When will the rhetoric about women’s health and women’s rights be exposed for what it truly is (since, of course, by women’s “health” and women’s “rights” they must not mean the near 28 million girls aborted since 1973)? What will it take? Where is the tipping point when the truth of Planned Parenthood can no longer be ignored by the popular conscience?

Abortion’s Self-Destruction

Mind-changing momentum is beginning to build, and to our surprise, it’s not so much from the direct work of pro-life advocates, but from the unmasked mishaps of abortion activists themselves. Yes, that’s right. They’ve ironically stumbled into a suicide mission.

What if, counter-conventional as it might seem, the greatest felt gains for unborn humans will come by the abortion industry’s self-destruction?

Last year there was the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains reportedly awarded for exceeding their abortion quota. That is to say, in addition to other reports of such quotas, there was a certain number of abortions that the clinic was prescribed to perform and when they surpassed that number they were honored, all of which backfires against the language of abortions as safe, legal, and rare.

But that is really nothing compared to the recent video that exposes Planned Parenthood for selling the body parts of infant corpses. If the thought of abortionists high-fiving each other over surpassing their abortion quotas doesn’t unsettle you, just watch the video of Deborah Nucatola chomp her food and sip her wine as she talks about selling aborted baby heads. You can watchthe full two hours and forty minutes of conversation.

Apparently, according to Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, not only is abortion “safe, legal, and rare,” but it’s a pretty big money-maker if you can keep those heads and livers intact as you extract the baby feet first.

How Much Longer, America?

Once again, we’re not supposed to know about this industry. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want us to know, especially since it’s illegal. But we do know. And if we open our eyes, we’ll never think the same way again about their organization and their little tagline, “Care. No matter what.” Care? They receive millions of taxpayer dollars, and our president tells them to keep up “the good work” — to butcher babies and sell their body parts? Care?

Sooner or later, Planned Parenthood, the conviction-less masses are going to start scratching their heads. Please, just keep talking. Just keep doing what you do. The lights are coming on, and you’ve got nowhere to hide.

The question for the rest of us is how long it is before we feel the cumulative effect. How much time will we give the abortion industry before they self-destruct? How much longer, America? How long are we going to let this go on?How many more conversations need to leak? How much more blood must be spilt? How many more body parts must be dismembered, packaged, and sold before we realize this whole thing is a nightmare? God, may it end soon.

Jonathan Parnell

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/planned-parenthood-how-much-longer

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ADF to Colorado Appeals Court: Stop Illegal Funding of Abortion

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 1, 2015

planned
DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed their opening brief Friday in an appeal of a trial court’s decision that upheld $14 million of taxpayer subsidies to Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. ADF attorneys represent former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Jane Norton in the lawsuit, which is now at the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The trial court determined that no “specific abortion service” was proven to be state-funded even though a voter-approved state constitutional provision prohibits direct or indirect public taxpayer subsidies for abortion.

“Colorado bureaucrats should not use taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions, especially when the Colorado Constitution prohibits it,” said ADF Legal Counsel Natalie Decker. “The lower court should not have dismissed this case on a technicality since it agreed that $14 million of taxpayer funds flowed from state government agencies to Planned Parenthood and its abortion affiliate, presumptively in violation of the state constitution.”

In 1984, Colorado voters approved the Abortion Funding Prohibition Amendment and later rejected an initiative to repeal it. The Colorado Department of Public Health audited Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood and its affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation, in 2001 and subsequently ended funding to them after finding that state funds were indirectly subsidizing their abortion operations. State officials later ignored that determination and resumed funding.

“The voters’ primary concern in enacting Colorado’s Abortion Funding Limitation was to establish ‘a public policy for the state of Colorado that public funds are not to be spent for the destruction of prenatal life through abortion procedures,’” explains the ADF brief in Norton v. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. “This is a legitimate policy goal as proponents of Colorado’s Abortion Funding Limitation did not want Colorado to lend its ‘imprimatur’ to the ‘direct or indirect’ funding of induced abortions.”

“The people of Colorado resoundingly voted against funding abortion either directly or indirectly,” added Barry Arrington, co-counsel in the case and one of more than 2,500 private attorneys allied with ADF. “We hope the Colorado Court of Appeals reinstates this case and affirms the people’s desire for their government to responsibly use their tax dollars.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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US Supreme Court Argument Preview: Religion, Rights, and the Workplace

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on March 20, 2014

us-supreme-court (1) 

At 10 a.m. next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hold ninety minutes of oral argument on the government’s authority to require private businesses to provide birth control and other pregnancy-related services to their employees under the Affordable Care Act.  Arguing for the challengers to the so-called “contraceptive mandate” will be Paul D. Clement, of the Washington, D.C., law firm of Bancroft PLLC.  Defending the mandate will be U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.   Each will have forty-five minutes of time, under an order issued Thursday expanding the time beyond the normal amount.  The consolidated cases areSebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

Background

For the first time since the broad new federal health care law partially survived its most sweeping constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court nearly two years ago, the Affordable Care Act comes up for a new test before the Justices.  This time, the Court will be examining whether the government may enforce against private businesses owned by religiously devout owners the requirement that employee health plans provide no-cost coverage for women’s pregnancy-related services, including birth control.

These services, required under the so-called “contraceptive mandate” in the Act and in government regulations, are not themselves in legal trouble:  the only issue before the Court at this point is which businesses can be ordered to provide the services to their female workers at no cost to them.

That issue will be debated by two of the legal gladiators who met in the last test at the Court of the Affordable Care Act:  Washington attorney Paul D. Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General, and the current Solicitor General, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr.

There probably would be a significant loophole in the contraceptive mandate’s reach if the challengers win.  Some women’s rights groups have estimated that millions of women would be affected.  Female workers of the two companies involved and those of other religiously oriented companies would have to cover personally the cost of at least some of the birth-control services — unless the government were to set up a new program on its own to do so, which is a very unlikely prospect.

Thus, the two cases that the Court has combined for review set up a direct conflict between the interests of some employers against those of their female workers of child-bearing age.  The federal government is clearly on the workers’ side, but the lower federal courts have been divided on who should win.

The dispute only involves private businesses because religious groups, as such, are given an exemption by regulations the government has issued.  Even some businesses get exemptions, too, because their employee health plans have been “grandfathered,” but before long those, too, will actually have to provide the benefits at issue, or face heavy financial penalties.

At the level of their greatest potential, the two cases raise the profound cultural question of whether a private, profit-making business organized as a corporation can “exercise” religion and, if it can, how far that is protected from government interference.  The question can arise — and does, in these cases — under either the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause or under a federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993.

In a manner of speaking, these issues pose the question — a topic of energetic debate in current American political and social discourse — of whether corporations are “people.”  The First Amendment protects the rights “of the people,” and the 1993 law protects the religious rights of “persons.”  Do profit-making companies qualify as either?

Aside from whether corporations do have any religious rights, as such, the cases also raise the question whether the religious rights of their owners — real people, who undeniably can act according to their faith — are violated by the requirement that their companies obey the contraceptive mandate.  Ordinarily, in business law, corporations are separate from their owners, but the owners in these cases resist that notion, at least so far as the owners’ religious views actually shape the business of their companies.

No one doubts that the owners of the two companies have sincere religious objections to some forms of birth control or that their beliefs do counsel them to avoid any role in providing those services to their employees.  The companies and their owners do not have to convince the Court that that is what they believe — only whether that belief controls enforcement, or not, of the mandate.

One company is Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and a related company, Mardel, Inc.  Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the two companies are owned — through a trust — by members of the Green family.   Hobby Lobby is a chain of more than 500 arts-and-crafts stores across the country, with more than 13,000 employees.  Mardel is a chain of Christian book stores, with 35 outlets and about 400 employees.

The Green family members signed a formal commitment to run the two chains according to Christian religious principles — closing on Sunday, advertising their religious orientation, and playing religious music in the stores.   The owners and their stores do not object to every part of the contraceptive mandate, but they do object to the use of any drugs or intrauterine devices that — in the words of their lawyers — “end human life after conception.”

They have estimated that, if they follow their faith and violate the mandate, they face fines of about $1.3 million a day, or almost $475 million a year.  They believe that cancelling their health plan to avoid obeying the mandate would put them at a competitive disadvantage with other employers.   They do not believe that the government can force them to make such choices.

The other company is Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., a company based in East Earl, Pennsylvania, that also has operations in other states, making wooden cabinets and wood specialty products.  It has about 950 employees.

The company is owned by members of the Hahn family, who are Mennonite Christians.  Their faith teaches them that it is wrong to take a human life and to prevent its creation through drugs and intrauterine devices  If the company or its owners were to violate the mandate to adhere to their beliefs, they estimate that they would face financial penalties of about $35 million a year.

Federal appeals courts ruled in conflicting ways.  The U.S. Court of Appeals f0r the Tenth Circuit decided that Hobby Lobby was likely to win its challenge because, even though it is a profit-making business, it can, indeed, act according to faith principles.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided that neither the company, Conestoga Wood Specialties, nor its owners could claim First Amendment religious rights — because, it found, the corporation is incapable of doing so, and because the owners had chosen the corporate form for their business and it stands apart from their personal interests.

Petitions for certiorari

The federal government asked the Supreme Court to review the Hobby Lobby case, while the Hahn family and their woodworking company did the same in their case.  As offered to the Justices, the two cases together raise both the First Amendment religious rights question and the RFRA statutory issue, as to both the companies and their owners.

The First Amendment provides that no law may be passed, at any level of government, that prohibits “the free exercise of religion.”  RFRA provides that government agencies (only at the federal level, since the Act no longer applies at the state and local levels) may not impose a “substantial burden” on the religious exercise of “a person,” even if the law is one that everyone ordinarily must obey, unless the government can justify the burden to satisfy a “compelling government interest,” and only if it is the “least restrictive means” of doing so.  It does not specifically define “person.”

On November 26, the Court agreed to review both cases and consolidated them for review.

Briefs on the merits

Hobby Lobby Stores — whose name will probably provide the label for the case in history – argued aggressively in its merits brief that the federal government was pursuing “a misguided shell game” in which only the Green family has rights and the corporation suffers alone the burden of the mandate.   That, it contended, was a move to ”drive a wedge” between the family and its corporation.

The brief insisted that, if the Court uses the definition of “person” that is in the federal Dictionary Act, it would refer not only to natural persons, but to corporations, too.  And, under the ACA regulations at issue, the filing said, the government is seeking to force employers to provide specific contraceptives, not just “an exchange of money.”  It is the contraceptives, not their cost, that burdens the Green family’s faith and the principles of Hobby Lobby Stores and the related bookstore chain, the brief argued.

Saying that the Court must apply “strict scrutiny,” the most demanding test for the validity of a government mandate or program, the Hobby Lobby brief said that the government has “not come close” to satisfying that standard.  The official claims that the mandates support public health and women’s equality are so broad that they could never meet that test, the brief said.

The retail chains’ filing said that the government has come up at the last minute with another attempted justification — that is, that the mandate is part of a comprehensive scheme of providing health benefits to all.  But that notion, the brief said, is belied by all the exemptions the government has allowed.

Because the question that the government raised in its petition in the Hobby Lobby case was restricted to the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the retail chains’ merits brief is confined to that issue.

The merits brief for Conestoga Wood Specialties and its owners deals with its claims under both RFRA and the First Amendment.  The filing begins with a defense of the Hahn family’s claim that its members choose to practice their faith through business activity, as well as in their personal lives.  “The corporate formality of a business is not determinative of whether religious exercise occurs in that business,” it contended.

But, if the family’s religious interests could be separated from the company, the brief went on, the company itself “exercises religion, too.”  Under state law, the corporate form may be used “to pursue all lawful purposes, without excluding religion,” Conestoga’s lawyers told the Court.  The Supreme Court, they added, “has never limited religious freedom to natural persons.”

Aside from arguing that the contraceptive mandate substantially burdens the religious rights of the Hahns and of their company, the brief said that Congress in passing the Affordable Care Act did not require that contraceptive services be included in employee health plans; that was added by the federal government in ACA regulations.

And, like Hobby Lobby, the Conestoga filing asserted that “strict scrutiny” is the only valid test to apply and that the government cannot show that it has a compelling interest in enforcing the birth-control mandate against religious objectors.  If the government is intent on assuring access to birth control, the brief said, it could either expand existing programs which provide that service or create new ones.

The Obama administration’s merits brief in Hobby Lobby focused on the RFRA claim, and its separate brief in the Conestoga case sought to answer claims under both RFRA and the First Amendment.

In each filing, the government made the same basic points:  profit-making businesses do not “exercise” religion at all, for purposes of either federal law or the Constitution; the mandate only applies to corporations and not to their owners and, in any event, corporations law treats the business separate from the owner; and, even if the mandate did have to satisfy a compelling government interest, it does so by assuring that female workers have access to an important health benefit as part of a comprehensive health insurance scheme.

The contraceptive coverage requirement, according to the government, is a neutral obligation that applies to profit-making businesses in general, and does not target any religious exercise.  The exemptions that have been provided for other businesses — those whose plans are “grandfathered” and thus do not immediately have to obey the mandate — will only exist in a phased sequence, and that alone is not enough to deprive the mandate of its neutral character, the U.S. brief said.

In passing RFRA, the brief contended, Congress did not intend to “uniquely disable the government by working a dramatic expansion” of the claims for exemption based on religious liberty.  Besides, it added, there has not been a single decision by the Supreme Court that struck down a federal law — or required an exemption to it — on the theory that that was necessary “to protect the rights of a for-profit corporation or of the owners, managers, or directors of the corporation.”

The government brief also made a religious liberty argument of its own.  It said that giving for-profit businesses the chance to obtain an exemption from federal laws based on religion would threaten “the special place of religious institutions in our society.”  Congress has often given religious bodies exemptions from laws, but it has always “drawn the line at for-profit corporations,” the brief said.

If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are legally entitled to exemptions, Congress would be discouraged from providing exemptions for non-profit religious organizations “for fear that doing so would automatically entitle for-profit corporations to the same accommodation,” according to the government’s argument.

The briefs for the government also asserted that there actually is no burden on any religious exercise by owners or corporations, because the choice to use a birth-control pill or device would be made independently by the female workers covered by a health insurance plan.   The connection between those choices and the interests of the employer who finances the plan, the brief went on, is “too indirect” to make a legal difference.

The amicus briefs

If numbers of amici were to make a difference, there is no contest in these cases:  the government drew two dozen briefs in support, while Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are backed by five dozen filings.  There are two briefs that do not take a position on how these specific cases should be decided, but they take opposite positions:  a brief by professors of history and law argues that the Court has always treated corporations differently from natural persons, while a brief by a group of traditional religious organizations urges the Court to adopt an expansive view of the right to religious exemptions from public laws.

The boldest brief in support of the government takes a position that the government did not, urging the Supreme Court to strike down RFRA as an unconstitutional attempt by Congress to scuttle a Supreme Court decision requiring religious organizations to obey laws that apply generally.  That is a brief by a disparate group of advocacy organizations, including non-believers and survivors of clergy sexual abuse of children.

There is, on the corporations’ side, a brief by constitutional law scholars seeking to answer that constitutional challenge.  That brief contends that RFRA is a valid exercise of Congress’s legislative powers, and that nullifying the law “would threaten thousands of statutes that protect religious minorities.”

There are predictable allies on each side:  civil rights and women’s rights groups, liberal organizations, professors of various disciplines, and liberal lawmakers on the side of the federal government and the ACA, and traditional religious organizations and advocacy groups, conservative and libertarian entities, professors of various disciplines, and conservative lawmakers on the side of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.

Analysis

If the legal territory the Court enters in these cases is not entirely new, it is also not well traveled.  The Court has sort of assumed since 1886 — without ever ruling flatly — that corporations are “persons” in a constitutional sense.  And, over time, it has filled in some of the gaps on what rights corporations are to have under the Constitution.  But it has never said, explicitly, that they are endowed with the right to freely exercise a religious faith.

These two cases give it the chance to do just that, if it is so inclined, and that would be a profound constitutional shift, with deeply uncertain implications.  It would, at a minimum, pave the way for businesses to choose whom they serve according to the identities of the customers and how those square with the religious preferences of the company.

But the Court need not go that far, even if it should lean toward ruling in favor of an exemption within the business world from the ACA’s contraceptive mandate.  It could decide that the Green family and the Hahn family have a right to exercise their religious beliefs in the way they run their business firms, and that this mandate intrudes on those rights.

Along the way, of course, the Justices would have to find a way around the conventional business law notion that corporations stand apart from their owners.  But they could do that with a very narrow definition of the rights of the owners of a company that is so closely held that it is essentially not a public corporation, except in name.  Again, though, that would grow out of the rights of the owners, not of the corporate entity itself.

The problem in anticipating a victory for religious owners, though, is that the focus in that analysis may fall too heavily on the owner’s interests, and insufficiently on the interests of the employees.  What is at stake on that side of the legal controversy is the interest of female employees in managing their personal lives and their reproductive health, with obvious implications for their ability to carry on their work lives and careers.

Just as there are Justices now on the Court who would, indeed, view this controversy through sympathetic eyes for business management, there also are Justices now serving who would certainly view sympathetically the claims of female workers of child-bearing age.

In these two cases, those two perspectives seem distinctly at odds, and the chances of finding common ground between them seem remote, indeed.

For example, the easiest way to rule for a religious exemption for businesses or their owners in this case would be to interpret the Affordable Care Act as not even authorizing the government to include birth control in the requirements for employee health plans.  That is an argument that the lawyers for the businesses here actually make.  But to rule that way would be to read the purposes of the statute’s coverage of preventive health services so narrowly as to ignore the realities of the health of women who work in offices, factories, and shops.

In terms of the legal foundations for a ruling, the Court might well go into this case hoping to avoid making new constitutional law, on the institutional premise that it should not decide a constitutional question unless it has no way to avoid it.

But it would be hard to base a ruling in this case solely on the scope of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because that Act is essentially designed to protect constitutional rights of religious liberty.  To know what that law does protect requires knowing what the Constitution embraces — either as to corporations, or as to their owners, or both.

Only one thing, perhaps, is certain as the argument in this case approaches: whatever the Court decides, it will not decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act.  The nation’s politics, and many of its legislatures (including Congress), are absorbed with debates over whether to keep the law, to amend it, to render it unenforceable, or to repeal it altogether.  None of that depends upon the outcome of this case.

The Court has not been asked to strike down any part of the law, and it almost certainly won’t volunteer to do so.  All that is at issue is who must obey the contraceptive mandate.

Posted in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby StoresConestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius,AnalysisFeaturedHealth CareMerits Cases

Recommended Citation: Lyle Denniston, Argument preview: Religion, rights, and the workplace, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 20, 2014, 3:30 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/03/argument-preview-religion-rights-and-the-workplace/

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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Arizona’s Appeal for 20-Week Abortion Ban

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on January 15, 2014

pro-life-marchersThe Supreme Court declined Monday to hear Arizona’s appeal against a lower court’s ruling that determined its ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy was unconstitutional. The lower court’s ruling thus remains and the state’s ban on abortion after 20 weeks has been struck down.

The Supreme Court justices declined to provide a reason as to why they won’t be reviewing the case. In May 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Arizona’s ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy violated the legal precedents set by Roe v. Wade in 1973, and was therefore unconstitutional.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the 20-week abortion ban into law in 2012. The law has been considered to be one of the strictest pieces of pro-life legislation in the country, only allowing abortions after 20 weeks in the case of medical emergencies. Those who opposed the legislation argued it was stricter than other states with similar laws because the method for determining a gestation period barred abortions two weeks earlier than other states with 20-week abortion bans.

The governor’s spokesperson, Andrew Wilder, released a statement Monday decrying the high court’s decision to not hear the case, calling it “a clear infringement on the authority of states to implement critical life-affirming laws.”

“Governor Brewer will continue to fight to protect Arizona women, families and our most vulnerable population: unborn children.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political action committee, also released a statement defending the state’s 20-week abortion ban and the highly debated argument that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. “Arizona legislators, led by pro-life State Rep. Kimberly Yee, were acting on the will of the people when they enacted this compassionate, common sense legislation to protect babies at 20 weeks,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in the statement.

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“Twenty weeks is more than halfway through pregnancy and the point at which babies have all their organs, hear and respond to their mother’s voices, and can even feel pain. A growing number of Americans simply reject the horror of late abortion and believe a reasonable line should be drawn. The 9th Circuit Court clearly erred. The law should reflect our natural recoil from this type of brutality.”

Pro-abortion groups heralded the Supreme Court’s decision, but also criticized the growing number of strict, anti-abortion bills being passed in states. “The Supreme Court soundly declined to review the Ninth Circuit’s sound decision that Arizona’s abortion ban is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing precedent,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

“… But women should not be forced to run to court, year after year, in state after state, to protect their constitutional rights and access to critical health care,” Northup continued, adding that women’s rights must not be “legislated away by politicians who are hell-bent on restricting access to the full range of reproductive health care.”

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments regarding the 2007 Massachusetts law that blocks pro-life protests within 35 feet of an abortion clinic. Those opposing the “Buffer Zone” law argue it violates their constitutional rights to free speech. A U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit previously upheld the state law, and those who support the law argue it ensures public safety for women seeking an abortion and abortion clinic employees.

Dana Cody, an attorney and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, told MassLive.com that the law specifically targets those who oppose abortion. Her pro-life group has filed an amicus brief opposing the law. “It’s content-based discrimination,” Cody said. “This is about limiting opposition to abortion in a public forum.”

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/news/supreme-court-refuses-to-hear-arizonas-appeal-for-20-week-abortion-ban-11257

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Abortion Activists Yell “Hail Satan” as Texas Pro-Lifers Sing Amazing Grace

Posted by goodnessofgod2010 on July 7, 2013

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The pro-abortion protests outside the state capitol in Austin have produced a variety of offensive signs and slogans — but perhaps none more offensive than activists yelling “Hail Satan” as pro-lifers sang “Amazing Grace.”

The picture below, first reported by CNN, shows pro-lifers singing the song.
life

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League responded to LifeNews about the “Hail Satan” chants.

“It would be unfair to say that all pro-abortion supporters would support this obscenity, and indeed most would not. Among hard-core activists, though, there are no doubt more than just a few who feel comfortable with invoking Satan’s name in behalf of their cause. Here’s why I say this,” he said.

He continued: “There are writers and activists who support more than abortion rights—they hail it as a positive good. For example, the book by women’s studies professor Patricia Lunneborg, Abortion: A Positive Decision, boasts how abortion liberates women. The volume, Abortion is a Blessing, by militant atheist Anne Nicol Gaylor, sees abortion as a sacred right. So does French author Ginette Paris: her book, The Sacrament of Abortion, tells us exactly where she is coming from.”

“Catholics reach out to young pregnant women who have made the wrong decision, and indeed the Catholic Church has a program, “Project Rachel,” that serves them in many ways. Moreover, when someone in the pro-life community acts in an offensive way, he is quickly condemned. By contrast, there are pro-abortion fanatics who draw their inspiration from Satanic forces. Worse, many of those in the pro-abortion community are quite content to stay silent about such offenses,” he said.

And then there are the parents who made their kids carry all sorts of crazy signs promoting abortion — exploiting young kids who could have been aborted to push their extreme abortion agenda on Texas.

If you’ve followed LifeNews’ coverage of the craziness in Texas, you’re aware of what’s going on there as pro-lifers attempt to push back against Wendy Davis and her pro-abortion friends.

Next week, the battle begins anew as another legislative committee debates the abortion bill.

LifeNews needs your help to continue to providing the most timely and most comprehensive pro-life coverage of the battle there as possible. Our coverage has been so extensive that the Drudge Report and top conservative web sites are linking to and referring to our news reports.

Courtesy of http://www.lifenews.com/2013/07/03/abortion-activists-yell-hail-satan-as-texas-pro-lifers-sing-amazing-grace/

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Life Project USA Video on Abortion:The Truth about Life

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 28, 2011

The Life Project is a grass roots strategy for awakening Christians to the cause of Life that includes media, curriculum, and Life resources designed to move believers from lukewarm disapproval of abortion to activism for Life.

It eases the tension between compassion and truth telling by presenting a holistic message:  the truth about abortion with hope for healing.

It begins with prayer.  It uses abortion imagery carefully, but without fear. 

More… It does not depend on pastors alone – it begins with prayer groups and grows from there.

It is comprehensive; that is, it’s not just an exposé of the abortion industry, not just an appeal to restoration for post abortive men and women, not just an appeal for legislation.  It seeks to address the whole picture, with the explicit goal of saving lives.

Instead of a topical recitation of the facts, the Life documentary component of the Life Project will focus on real human stories of ordinary believers who have dedicated themselves to saving unborn babies, and on post abortive women and men whose lives have been transformed and renewed by Jesus.

The Life documentary precedes and promotes a feature length movie entitled Faith, which we are developing to show audiences the truth about abortion within the context of an emotionally compelling and compassionate story.

It utilizes digital distribution of video, viral messaging, and an online resource center for pro life activity.

It envisions the genesis of a revitalized pro life movement, with possibilities for spreading the message through film, music, fashion, and public figures willing to take a stand for unborn babies. 

OUR MESSAGE FOR A SLEEPY CHURCH:  WAKE UP!

See:  Every Christian needs to see and understand the miracle of Life and the tragedy of abortion.
Reflect:  We need to seek God’s forgiveness for our tacit acceptance of a culture of death, and offer Jesus’ love and mercy to men and women who have aborted their children.
Embrace Life:  We must call believers to embrace Life and have nothing to do with furthering the practice of abortion or supporting anyone or any group who seeks to encourage or facilitate it.
Take a Stand:  Every Christian needs to take a stand for Life by playing an active role in the struggle to save unborn babies and remake our society as a welcoming place for children entering the world.

Our plan centers around helping the Church find its voice and equipping Christians to make a life-saving difference.  By the Church, we mean individual believers, Christian churches, colleges and universities, high schools, and other Christian institutions of all types.  And because we understand that pastors, presidents, and administrators have their hands full, these strategies are designed to be implemented by lay people with the blessing of Christian leaders to rally their communites for Life.

Prayer:  This is where it all begins.  We suggest that anyone wanting to renew their church or school’s pro life commitment begin by starting a weekly or monthly prayer group, seeking God’s heart for Life and His desire for their community – simple, beautiful, powerful – and we’ll have specific suggestions.

Media:  If you believe God is leading you to take the next step in your community (and we believe He will), you will soon have access to a compelling short documentary designed specifically for Christians called LIFE.  Motion pictures are the visual language of our time.  LIFE will challenge Christians to action in a completely new way.  We are also developing a feature length theatrical movie.  Check out our projects here:  MEDIA.

Curriculum:  Our films will help create a receptive heart and a willingness to ask “What now?”  We want to turn that willingness to action with a thoughtfully written, Biblically based, four-part curriculum for small groups that uses segments of the LIFE documentary as discussion starters.

Resources for Action:  The LIFE documentary will be created around profiles of Christians taking courageous and sacrificial steps to save babies and end abortion.  The curriculum will offer practical avenues for life-saving activities, and the LIFE PROJECT website will include interactive resources and links.

Pro Life Partners:  We want to work with any pro life ministry or Christian institution that eschews violence and takes their essential principles from a sound understanding of God’s Word on Life.  Our fully implemented website and curricular materials will contain many suggestions.

HERE IS THE VIDEO LINK:

http://www.lifeprojectusa.com/the-truth-about-life

See their website at www.lifeprojectusa.com

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Speaking against China’s one-child policy

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 25, 2011

Several prayer vigils are scheduled in honor of the Roe v. Wade anniversary across the nation, but one event in Washington, DC, focuses on aborted babies in land far away from the political debate in the U.S. 

China world mapA new movement is stirring in the pro-life community. All Girls Allowed, a new organization devoted to mothers’ and girls’ rights in China, gathered for prayer Monday at the Chinese Embassy, calling out to God concerning the millions of babies aborted, killed and abandoned as a result of the one-child policy in China.
 
Tessa Dale, communication director for the organization, says the battle to fight abortion is far beyond the United States.
 
“There’s really two issues going on,” Dale explains. “One is the forced abortion of unregistered children — [which] means that single mothers who can’t have birth permits are all forced to abort their babies by the government.
 
“In addition, any child after the first one, she’ll have to pay fines that are often up to ten times the family’s salary — which means that she’s also forced to abort her baby.”
 
Even though Chinese President Hu Jintao recently stated there are no forced abortions in his country, Dale contends babies are known to be aborted up to their due dates. She also says few Americans are aware of the “gender-cide” taking place in other parts of the world.
 
Related YouTube video“About two months ago, a video surfaced — very popular on YouTube — of a woman who was eight months pregnant who thought that she was properly registered to have her new baby, but found out that she wasn’t,” says the group spokeswoman. “And rather than giving her time to get her paperwork in order, the government…kidnapped her, beat her, and forcibly aborted her child.”
 
All Girls Allowed is a Boston-based organization with the mission to restore life, value, and dignity to girls and mothers in China, and to expose the injustice of the one-child policy.

Courtesy of http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=1280628

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Maryland law slams door on pro-life speech

Posted by faithandthelaw on May 22, 2010

By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily


Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett

A new law in a Maryland county that apparently intends to shut down the speech of pro-life counselors is being challenged in federal court by a pregnancy center that wants to continue offering free advice to mothers-to-be.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Maryland over the law adopted in Montgomery County that requires such counseling centers to post conspicuously a sign advising that there is no licensed medical professional on staff and the county health officer thinks women should consult their physicians.

According to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is pursuing the legal action, there are no similar requirements for abortion businesses.

“There is no abortion exception to the First Amendment,” Mark Rienzi, the lead counsel for Centro Tepeyac Women’s Center of Silver Spring and a law professor at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law said.

“The government cannot create special speech rules just because people want to talk about pregnancy choices. And it certainly cannot target pro-life speakers for special sign requirements and fines while leaving speech by abortion clinics entirely unregulated,” he continued.

“This new regulation violates every core principle of free speech law,” he said.

Officials with Montgomery County, where Ike Leggett is its executive, declined to respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment.

But ADF explained as the law is worded, it also could require “maternity stores, sidewalk counselors or anyone in a church that talks to pregnant women to ‘conspicuously post’ signs that state that no licensed medical professional is on staff.”

ADF said, “The county council explicitly admitted that the policy’s intent is to regulate pro-life centers because the council disagrees with their past speech about abortion’s risks.”

Fines of more than $20,000 a month are embedded in the law for those who say something they shouldn’t.

“The government’s enforcement of policies against pro-life pregnancy centers and its refusal to apply the same rules to abortion facilities is an unconstitutionally discriminatory practice,” said ADF Legal Counsel Casey Mattox. “These centers are honest, do not profit from their services, treat women with dignity, and offer them real choices. Planned Parenthood and its pro-abortion allies make millions performing abortions on women and girls in crisis, so they are undoubtedly only too happy to see the government engage in this unfair attack.”

It is the second such case that has arisen recently over attacks by abortion supporters on those who counsel against the termination of a baby’s life. ADF reported a lawsuit was filed by the pro-life Greater Baltimore Center for Pregnancy Concerns in Baltimore in March over a city policy that forces pro-life centers to post signs “stating that they don’t provide abortions or birth control referrals.”

There are no similar requirements for Planned Parenthood and other players in the region’s abortion industry.

The Montgomery County law states that the Board of Health has a “concern” that there would be people who would be “misled into believing that a center is providing medical services.”

The law said if that’s the case, then someone could “neglect” to “take action” and the result could be “adverse consequences.”

The lawsuit names the county, its board of health, department of health and county counsel Marc Hansen as defendants.

The lawsuit explains abortion businesses “can counsel women about pregnancy options without disclaimers as to the scope of their services, and without making mandatory statements about the views of the Montgomery County health officer.”

The plan violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the lawsuit argues.

The Constitution doesn’t allow, according to the lawsuit, “Speech restrictions – regulating private speech about the most controversial, political, social and ethical issue of our time – without any legislative evidence that plaintiffs or any other speaker regulated by the act have misled or misinformed patients.”

Montgomery County previously was in the news when county officials adopted a gender “anti-discrimination” rule that critics argued could create coed showers, locker rooms and other public facilities.

“With the bill’s vague wording, all an adult male has to do to gain legal access to facilities normally reserved for women and girls is to indicate, verbally or non-verbally, that he has a sense of being female at the moment,” said a group organized as Maryland Citizens for Responsible Government.

It later cited a case in which a man in a blue dress entered a female locker room at a local health club.

Courtesy of http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=156393

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