An Historic Day

 

Today is Inauguration Day, and I am reminded of how blessed we are to live in the United States of America and witness the peaceful transition of government from one Administration to the next.

Under the Obama Administration, our nation saw an unprecedented expansion of government abortion funding, and the prosecution of pro-life Americans – like the Little Sisters of the Poor and the staff at the March for Life! – because of our pro-life beliefs.

I am hopeful about the incoming Administration. I am optimistic that in these next 100 days, and coming years, we can see a reversal of pro-abortion policies in our government. The new Congress presents the pro-life movement with many opportunities to pass pro-life legislation and advance a culture of life.

President-Elect Trump has made pro-life promises and has assembled a team of personnel with incredible pro-life convictions, and qualifications, starting with Vice-President Elect Pence. (In fact, senior advisor to the incoming president, Kellyanne Conway, will be speaking at the March for Life one week from today. In a recent interview, she referred to herself as “one of the pro-life rank and file.”)

But this won’t happen unless our voices are heard. Pro-life Americans cannot sit back and expect Washington, D.C. to do the work. We must hold our elected officials accountable and demand an end to abortion extremism.

Our pro-life priorities for 2017 include:

  • H.R. 7, The No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, codifying the Hyde amendment and federal funding of abortion.
  • Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, restricting abortion after 5 months of pregnancy, at which point babies can feel pain.
  • Legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

Will you write to your elected officials in Washington and encourage them to prioritize pro-life legislation? (Click the Take Action button below to do so – every voice matters!)

I also want you to know that, on behalf of all marchers, March for Life Action will be working tirelessly in the coming months to make sure these priorities are passed and signed into law,

Furthermore, earlier this month, March for Life Action announced the launch of a new and comprehensive “Pro-Life Scorecard” to identify and measure national pro-life legislation to keep you informed and hold elected representatives accountable.

>>>> See March for Life Action’s announcement on a comprehensive pro-life congressional scorecard.

Just days before we march for life, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act. Do not delay, in sending this important pro-life message to your congressman and senators.

Thank you for all you do for the cause of life. We are grateful for you and look forward to seeing you one week from today in D.C. for the March for Life!

Visit our ACTION CENTER to send a pro-life message to your lawmakers!

Pro-Life Priorities in the New Congress

 

During the election season, abortion was one of the top two most searched topics on Google. Americans were very interested in what the candidates were saying about abortion. Ultimately, the most pro-abortion presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, lost resoundingly.

>>>> Read Jeanne Mancini’s op-ed, Abortion lobby lost big this election — life is a winning issue.

While the elections are now over, our most important work as pro-life advocates is now beginning.

Last week, the 115th Congress was sworn in. The new Congress presents the pro-life movement with many opportunities to pass pro-life legislation and advance a culture of life.

Our pro-life priorities for 2017 include:

  • No Taxpayer Funding of Abortion Act, codifying the Hyde amendment and federal funding of abortion.
  • Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, restricting abortion after 5 months of pregnancy, at which point babies can feel pain.
  • Legislation defunding Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
  • Ensuring that legislation that replaces Obamacare is pro-life with strong conscience protections.
  • Confirming judges that will uphold the U.S. Constitution.

>>>> See March for Life Action’s announcement on a comprehensive pro-life congressional scorecard.

Already, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has indicated the legislation defunding Planned Parenthood will be a priority.

That is great news!

Planned Parenthood is our nation’s largest abortion provider, aborting over 320,000 babies every year. Plus, the organization has been caught trafficking aborted babies’ hearts, lungs, livers and brains.

Americans shouldn’t be forced to fund Planned Parenthood, to the tune of half a billion tax dollars each year. That federal funding should be redirected to trusted health providers, not given to the abortion industry.

>>>> Check out GetYourCare.org.

Abortion advocates have indicated they will be putting up a fight to protect Planned Parenthood funding. Just yesterday, we were bombarded with scores of nasty messages after tweeting out the following:

Now more than ever, pro-life Americans must speak up. Not only through social media, but it is imperative that our Congressman and Senators hear directly from us that defunding Planned Parenthood and protecting unborn lives is a priority for the new Congress and new Administration.

>>> Click HERE to send a message to your representatives!

America has a pro-life consensus, and we must urge our lawmakers to be bold on life!

How Obamacare Decimated Bipartisan Pro-Life Support

 

It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the passage of the President’s health care plan! While many experts will write on how the health care law is hurting the economy, families, the unborn, medical device manufacturers, businesses, the elderly, etc. etc. I’d rather turn my attention to a victim not many are talking about: pro-life bi-partisanship on the federal level.

MarchForLife_Obamacare5years_Meme copyHistorically the Democratic Party has been pro-abortion since the Carter Administration and became even more so in response to the strong pro-life views of President Ronald Reagan.  Despite this fealty to abortion pro-life views were tolerated in the Democratic Party, in part due to their large Catholic constituency.  This tolerance was limited of course.  If you wanted to run for higher office you needed to renounce your pro-life views (believe it or not at one time Jesse Jackson and Senators Al Gore and Joe Biden were pro-life, until they decided to run for President).

Further evidence of this limited tolerance was one of the strongest pro-life Governors of the 1980s and 1990s was a Democrat, Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey.  Governor Casey was best known for challenging his Party to be more tolerant of pro-life views and also in legally advocating for the unborn in  Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a major Supreme Court case that upheld almost all the prohibitions on abortion that Governor Casey had signed into law.  Despite this (or more likely because of this) the popular governor was barred repeatedly from speaking at Democratic Party conventions.  Around this same time a newly elected President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary were expertly putting up smoke screens on the issue of abortion – arguing that it should be “safe, legal and rare” while implementing policies that solidified pro-abortion policies within the federal government. The Clintons increased  ties between the Democratic Party and radical pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, including increasing taxpayer funds to such groups who in turn increased campaign donations to Democrats.

This smoke screen approach to hide radical pro-abortion policies became the norm for some Democrats such as Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and, the future President Barack Obama..  However a number of strong pro-life Democrats also emerged such as Reps. Bart Stupak (R-Mich.), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Colin Peterson (D-Minn.), Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Penn.) Nick Rahall (D-WV), Alan Mollohan (D-WV) Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Nebr.).

Along comes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), “Obamacare” introduced as a bill in November, 2009, and passed in March, 2010. The bill rolled back decades of abortion policy, allowing taxpayer subsidies for policies with elective abortion under a system of accounting gimmicks, and charging an “abortion surcharge” for anyone enrolled in a federally subsidized health care plan that covers elective abortions – regardless of if the enrollee agrees with the policy or not.

As passed five years ago today Obamacare also lacks comprehensive abortion funding restrictions, instead relying on a powerless Executive Order that reiterates the very accounting gimmicks that allow for taxpayer funding of abortions. Legal precedent has shown that Executive Orders cannot trump the law. Additionally Obamacare created slush funds for pro-abortion groups; opened the door for President Obama’s mandate that forces people (regardless of their views on abortion) to pay for abortifacients and also uses taxpayer funds to pay for abortions in health care plans for federal employees.

Prior to the vote on  Obamacare the Democrats listed above were reliable on standing up for pro-life principles, but following  the vote only Reps. McIntyre, Lipinski and Peterson remained loyal to the pro-life cause.As of November 2014 only Dan Lipinski remains in Congress.

During the passage of Obamacare the betrayal of Rep. Bart Stupak is well known.  Long a champion for adding pro-life protections into the health care legislation he folded under pressure from the White House and pro-abortion groups (closely tied financially to each other) to accept a health care law with no pro-life protections other than a smoke screen scheme devised by once pro-life Senator Ben Nelson.

Not well known during the Obamacare debate is that pro-life Republicans faced a challenge to their pro-life views during the Obamacare debate as well.  Prior to the first vote in the House on that chamber’s draft of health care legislation a group of fiscally conservative minded folks sought to use the pro-life movement as a political tool against the health care law.  On the day of the debate representatives from a fiscal conservative group started falsely telling Republicans that pro-life groups, including the one I worked for at the time, wanted to sink the amendment that would have put pro-life protections into the health care law, also known as the Stupak Amendment.  Luckily we were able to set the record straight that day – knowing that the result of Republicans voting against a clearly pro-life amendment would have divided the pro-life movement and cause pro-life Democrats to rightly no longer trust Republicans on the issue of the protecting the unborn.  Instead pro-life Republicans voted on principle for the pro-life amendment, which in turn gave anti-Obamacare forces months more to prepare grassroots for the continuing fight.

Ironically it was Rep. Stupak’s later voting against a similar version of his own amendment that sealed his betrayal of pro-life principles and allowed for the passage of the pro-abortion Obamacare legislation.

That betrayal was not the end of the devastation though.  In the election following the passage of Obamacare many of the Democrats who were once pro-life yet voted for Obamacare lost their elections.  These losses, in large part, were brought about by the work of the Susan B. Anthony List.  One now former congressional member, Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) attempted to sue SBA List for being the cause of his loss of employment.  In his attempt he was aided by the group Democrats for Life (who also supported the final pro-abortion version of Obamacare) who reportedly revealed private e-mail exchanges to help target pro-life individuals, including myself.  These actions still taint the once proud organization today and make it untrustworthy in the eyes of many in the pro-life movement.

Obamacare changed the face of Congress in many ways, and not just with the defeat of once pro-life Democrats.  As Family Research Council recently pointed out, Catholics, seen as a strong force among pro-lifers, are also taking a second look at their traditional support for Democrats:

Catholics are bolting from the Democratic Party so rapidly that Pew Research Center now says 53% of white Catholics now favor the GOP (compared to the Democrats’ 39%), the “largest point spread in the history of the Pew poll.” And the evidence is sitting in Congress. When President Obama was swept into office, there were 98 Catholic Democrats in the House and 37 Catholic Republicans. Barely six years later, there are two times as many Catholic Republicans in the House (69) and 68 Democrats.

To end on a more positive note, while it is true the Democratic Party on the federal level suffered, there is clear sign of a resurgence of pro-life Democrats on the local levels.  The numerous pieces of pro-life legislation flooding the states are being done with bi-partisan support.  In addition some Senate Democrats are becoming more emboldened in a Senate led by pro-life Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as opposed to the pro-abortion former Majority Leader (and former pro-life Democrat) Harry Reid (D-Nev.).  Self-avowed pro-life Democrats such as Joe Manchin (D-WV) and even Bob Casey (D-Penn.) (son of the aforementioned Governor who voted for the pro-abortion version of Obamacare) are currently stepping up to the plate to defend barring of taxpayer funds in the human trafficking bill.  All of this is a good thing – pro-life policies should not be a partisan issue.  Abortion kills regardless of political party.

D.C. Targets Pro-lifers for Extermination

 

Update: April 30, 2015 >>>

Today or tomorrow, the House of Representatives will vote on a resolution of disapproval of the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014. This DC Council policy would force non-profits like the March for Life to hire people who are not pro-life and fund abortion. Read why the March for Life opposes it HERE. Please call your representative TODAY and urge him/her to vote for H.J. Res. 43 disapproving the D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202-224-3121.

Imagine owning a vegan restaurant and being told you have to serve meat?  Or imagine you own a Jewish deli that is forced to serve bacon? Or imagine being an organization that fights for the unborn and also organizes the world’s largest annual march of pro-lifers and being forced to hire people who advocate for abortion.

It is that last example that pro-life organizations, churches and associations face in the Nation’s Capital, thanks to a coercive piece of legislation passed by the city council and the mayor.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 prevents religious institutions, other faith-based employers, and pro-life advocacy organizations from making employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs or their moral and ethical views about the sanctity of human life. For example, as currently written, the law could be read to require our organizations to subsidize elective abortions through their employee health plans. Thus, it is plainly invalid under federal law and squarely contradicts the Supreme Court’s recent, unanimous ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Church and School v. EEOC. The law would also infringe the right of expressive association for both religious and non-religious pro-life nonprofit organizations – forcing them to hire employees who openly advocate for the taking of human life.

Although at this point the Bill has effectively become an Act, its journey to becoming a law is not yet complete.  Unique to the District of Columbia, an approved Act of the Council must be sent to the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate for a period of 30 days before becoming effective as law (or 60 days for certain criminal legislation).  During this 30-day period of congressional review (which begins when the bill is submitted to Congress – something that has not happened yet), the Congress may enact into law a joint resolution disapproving the Council’s Act.  If, during the 30-day period, the President of the United States approves the joint resolution, the Council’s Act is prevented from becoming law.  If, however, upon the expiration of the 30-day congressional review period, no joint resolution disapproving the Council’s Act has been approved by the President, the bill becomes law.

To protect the religious and moral liberties of the citizens of Washington, D.C. a number of pro-life, religious and pro-religious liberty groups based in D.C., as well as organizations that serve the people of D.C., has asked Congress to protect the rights guaranteed us by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

A link to that letter can be found here.

 

 

114th Congress: The Brave Need to Be Bold

 

One fine tradition that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) started a few years ago was opening each Congress with a bipartisan, multi-denominational prayer service. The theme of the service this year (chosen by the official House Chaplain, Rev. Patrick Conroy, S.J.) was “Building Community Toward a Common Purpose.”

The service included readings from Proverbs (2:1-10), Bhagavad-Gita (XVIII 57-58) and from the Gospel of Mark (12:28-34).  The readings focused on service and were all tied together by Rev. Conroy as he asked the Members of Congress gathered to pray for their colleagues as they work together.

Freshman PhotoOne issue in need of such coalition work is the issue of life.  Facing an overtly hostile media some pro-lifers are afraid that Congress will not take the steps necessary to challenge the most pro-abortion President of our lifetime, Barack Obama. Starting in his original campaign, President Obama has been bold in the case of abortion, ending with the passage of one of the most anti-life pieces of legislation in generations, his health care law commonly known as Obamacare.  As for the pro-abortion Democratic Leadership, they have supported legislation, misnamed, the “Women’s Health Protection Act”, which would nullify every and any advance for the cause of life.

Facing such boldness for the cause of abortion, the pro-lifers in charge of Congress need to have the same boldness.  This is a priority first and foremost for moral reasons, but also for political reasons – as the nation is more pro-life than pro-abortion.  For years, Congress has fought to maintain the status quo and has been losing.  It is long past time to take the initiative on popular and needed pro-life legislation.  A good start would be the following:

  • In the House, passing the Federal Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which provides protection nationwide for unborn children who have the capacity to experience pain while being aborted, a capacity defined in the bill as existing by 20 weeks fetal age.
  • Also in the House, passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would clearly and permanently prohibit all taxpayer dollars from being used to cover abortion, including the indirect funding that occurs through subsidies to insurance purchasers.
  • Passing the Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act, which would require every insurance plan established by Obamacare to clearly indicate whether or not it covers abortion.
  • Protecting current pro-life provisions (also called riders) and adding new ones to end of year spending bills. Every year, pro-life protections such as the Hyde Amendment, are included in end of year Appropriations bills. Under President Obama’s Administration,  new threats to life and issues of conscience have grown by incredible bounds.  Congress needs to use the power of the purse to turn back this President’s support of the death industry known as abortion.

One of the top priorities for this Congress should be to return the Congressional Appropriations process to regular order.  It has been nearly a decade since Congress has done its very basic job, appropriating funds to pay for the workings of the federal government.  Instead Congress has repeatedly passed large, unreadable, unworkable Omnibuses or continuing resolutions, which does little to contain inappropriate spending curbing pro-abortion, taxpayer funded, outreach by the federal government.

All the above should just be a start, being done in the first year, if not hundred days.  Despite the U.S. Senate being controlled by Republicans, it is not controlled by a pro-life majority, so groups working on legislation in the 114th Congress will have a lot of work ahead of them in passing some of these initiatives – admittedly some of these bills might even take multiple Congresses to enact.  However, without boldness now on the issue of life, the current Congress might not deserve to be given the chance in future Congresses.

Transparent Trap: Abortion in Obamacare

 

Yesterday, Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives introduced their massive end of year spending bill, called by some a “CROmnibus.”  The bill is a disappointment in that it doesn’t give teeth to any pro-life issues that need immediate attention, such as states like California forcing Christian entities to pay for abortions.  However, it does offer instructions to the Obama Administration on issues of transparency in regards to abortion within the health law commonly known as Obamacare.

>>>>> Watch the March for Life Google Hangout with Pro-Life Caucus Chairman, Congressman Chris Smith, Are You Subsidizing Abortion Coverage?

This legislation is a prime opportunity to draw attention to the taxpayer-funded abortion coverage in the ACA; specifically, the lack of transparency regarding abortion coverage.  It has become evident that it is very difficult for consumers seeking exchange plans to identify which, if any plans, on their state exchange exclude abortion. This is vital information for pro-life consumers in the 27 states that have not passed laws to exclude abortion coverage in their state exchange.  Since there is a mandatory monthly abortion surcharge included in the premiums for any plan that includes elective abortion, pro-life consumers will want to identify plans that exclude abortion.  However, the exchange websites do not indicate whether abortion coverage is included in each plan and the pricing information does not specify when the price includes the abortion surcharge.

The CROmnibus includes the following language concerning Obamacare abortion transparency provision:

  1. 81, Division G Joint Explanatory Statement:

Transparency in Health Plans.-The agreement directs the Secretary to provide

additional clarification to qualified health plans, based upon relevant and related

GAO findings, to ensure greater consistency and full transparency of coverage

options included in health insurance plans prior to plan purchase in the

marketplace enrollment process. The agreement requests a timeline for such

clarifying guidance to be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on

Appropriations within 30 days after enactment of this act.

If the CROmnibus passes this week, it will likely be months (if ever) before the Obama Administration actually complies with the request.  However, thanks to the work of the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Family Research Council, consumers don’t have to wait as long.  Last month, the groups launched a new website to expose which health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges cover and do not cover elective abortion for the 2015 enrollment period.

obamacare abortionThe website, ObamacareAbortion.com, is a joint effort between the two groups. Researchers have examined new plan documents, contacted insurance carriers and the exchanges seeking plan information.  They also reference the 2014 Government Accountability Office report that provided a list of 1,036 plans that covered abortion on demand and were eligible for federal tax subsidies in 2014. This new online tool will aid Americans who want to make fully informed healthcare decisions and avoid inadvertently purchasing a plan covering abortion on demand.  Be sure to check it out.

Real Pro-life Victories Happened on the State Level

 

Republicans will have full control of at least 29 state legislatures, the party’s largest total since 1928, perhaps earlier. Republicans also will hold at least 32 governorships, including newly won offices in traditionally Democratic Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

How important is this to those in Washington, D.C.?  The National Council of State Legislatures points out that the state legislature is where a high number of Federal legislators cut their teeth:

Half of the congressional freshman class will bring with them state legislative experience when the 114th Congress begins in mid-January. Tuesday’s results saw 29 current or former state legislators elected to the House of Representatives and six newly elected senators with backgrounds serving in their respective state capitals. While a number of elections around the country are either too close to call, not yet official, or face runoffs, the upcoming Congress will consist of 219 and 45 members in the House and Senate, respectively, with state legislative credentials, an increase over the previous two election cycles. When the dust settles, about half of the members in the 114th Congress will have served in state legislatures.

NCLS also points out that it was good election for Republicans, as they took the majority in 11 legislative chambers previously held by Democrats. Those chambers were:

  • Colorado Senate
  • Maine Senate
  • Minnesota House
  • Nevada Assembly
  • Nevada Senate
  • New Hampshire House
  • New York Senate
  • New Mexico House
  • Washington Senate
  • West Virginia House.
  • West Virginia Senate (after Democratic Senator Daniel Hall switched his party affiliation to Republican).

Factoring in all of those changes, here are the bottom line numbers (the Nebraska unicameral Legislature is nonpartisan):

  • Legislatures: 30 R, 11 D and 8 split
  • Chambers: 68 R, 30 D
  • Governors: 31 R, 18 D and 1 undecided (Alaska)
  • State governments: 23 R, 7 D, 18 divided and 1 undecided (Alaska)

It appears that Republicans will have a net gain of close to 350 seats and control over 4,100 of the nation’s 7,383 legislative seats. That is their highest number of legislators since 1920. Republicans gained seats in every region of the country and in all but about a dozen legislative chambers that were up this year.

This will likely open doors to more pro-life legislation in states where one chamber or both were controlled by pro-abortion politicians.

On ballot initiatives it was a mixed bag with the personhood movement failing in North Dakota and Colorado with amendments to grant the unborn constitutional rights.

However, in Tennessee voters approved a ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to say that nothing in it protects the right to an abortion or the funding of an abortion. The measure distinguished the right to privacy from the right to an abortion. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, AP said the measure was approved by a vote margin of 54 percent to 46 percent the amendment was a response to a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling in 2000 that said abortion was protected by the state constitution. The amendment was brought before the legislature four months after that decision, but it took nearly 14 years to become law because of political opposition and the state’s lengthy referendum process.

Because of the pro-life laws in surrounding states, Tennessee had become an “abortion destination” spot. Almost 19 percent of the women getting abortions in Tennessee were from out of state, according to the Tennessee Department of Health, in order to avoid pro-life laws like parental consent, in adjacent states.

More than $4 million in advertising for and against an abortion measure had flooded airwaves and mailboxes in Tennessee since the start of October, with opponents outstripping supporters by nearly a 3-1 ratio.

Republican Beth Harwell, speaker of the Tennessee House, said she is backing a trio of abortion bills that include:

  • A mandatory waiting period before a woman seeking an abortion can obtain one.
  • Inspection requirements for all facilities where abortions are performed.
  • Mandatory counseling — or “informed consent” — be provided to a woman before an abortion.

Is July Over Yet?

Pro-abortion forces, and the media that agrees with them, often try to paint the pro-life side as extreme.  Issues proven popular with most Americans, such as parental consent for minors seeking an abortion, protecting unborn children at 20-weeks, or even religious protections for entities and individuals that oppose abortion, are described by groups like abortion-giant Planned Parenthood as part of a diabolical scheme in a mythical “War on Women.”

However, during the month of July, pro-abortion Senators in the U.S. Senate exposed what true extremism is by holding a hearing on one radical piece of legislation, and a floor vote on yet another.  First up was a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on what is unquestionably the most anti-life bill ever seen in the U.S. Congress, S. 1696,  “The Women’s Health Protection Act” (WHaPA).  The WHaPA would override the tremendous success of protecting women’s health and limiting abortion that we have seen in the states.  Not since the radical “Freedom of Choice Act,” supported by President Obama, have we seen a bill that is so anti-mother and child.

An analysis by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that that S. 1696 would turn back the clock on such pro-life gains as 20-week laws, conscience protections, bans on sex discrimination abortions, sonogram and fetal heartbeat requirements, and prohibitions on taxpayer funding of abortion and it would also eliminate regulations of abortionists like Philadelphia butcher Kermit Gosnell.  The bill is so radical that only two Senate sponsors even bothered showing up for the hearing, while pro-life Senators were well represented.  This bill is quite obviously a desperate cry from those who profit off of the misery of abortion, yet it should be taken as a serious threat to life everywhere.

Later that same week, Senate Democratic Leadership rushed to the Senate floor a vote on legislation introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that was supposedly an answer to the Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby.  The bill, S. 2578, the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, was more than a simple response though – it was an outright attack on both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and it would give the government the power to define conscience.

Pro-life Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) described the Senate Democrats’ bill to limit religious liberty as one that “targets religious freedom as the problem.  It treats certain religious beliefs as simply unworthy of recognition and religious exercise in general as a second- or even a third-rate value.”  The bill failed to gain the 60 votes it needed to proceed, but it is a good warning how fragile our religious freedom is.  As President Ronald Reagan once said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”

 

Supreme Court wrap up and reactions from the Hill

The Basics

The HHS mandate comes from a provision in President Obama’s health care law, commonly called “Obamacare.”   This provision requires all employers who offer health insurance to include coverage for “preventive services”.   The term “preventive services” was then defined by pro-abortion Obama Administration to mean contraceptive drugs and devices, including so-called emergency contraception, some of which can cause abortions.  In addition sterilization was classified as a preventive service. 

The result is if an employer’s health insurance plan does not provide the coverage required by the Mandate they are subject to a fine of $100 per day per employee.  An employer with 100 employees would be fined $10,000 every day, or $3.6 million per year.  There are exceptions running throughout Obamacare’s many many provisions – however the ones governing this abortifacient providing mandate are few and/or worthless. 

The last “accommodation” made for some religious non-profit organizations like Catholic Charities forces the organization to sign a permission slip for the insurance company to cover sterilization, contraception and abortifacients – thus making the organization culpable in offering life ending services.

There is no exemption for for-profit companies.  The two current companies decided today before the Supreme Court involved two businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood.  There are a number of legal issues involved in these cases, including whether corporations have religious liberty rights at all. 

 

The court rejected the government’s claim that neither the owners nor the corporations could bring a religious liberty claim.   From the opinion:

  • “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga … protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those companies.”
  • “The Hahns and the Greens believe that providing the coverage demanded by the HHS regulation is connected to the destruction of an embryo in a way that is sufficient to make it immoral for them to provide the coverage.”
  • “HHS [Department of Health and Human Services] has not shown that it lacks other means of achieving its desired goal without imposing a substantial burden on the exercise of religion by the objecting parties in these cases.”
  • “Protecting the free-exercise rights of corporations like Hobby Lobby, Conestoga and Mardel protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control those FRFR companies”

 

Hill Reactions:

From President Barack Obama from Politico:

President Barack Obama believes that the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case on contraceptives “jeopardizes” women’s health and will press Congress to respond, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.  “Today’s decision jeopardizes the health of women employed by these companies,” Earnest told reporters.

 

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) from Wall Street Journal:

“If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said in a statement. “We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room.” “It’s time that five men on the Supreme Court stop deciding what happens to women,” Mr. Reid said on Twitter.

 

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.):

“Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will. In the coming days, I will work with my colleagues and the administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck.”  (Spokesperson for House Democrats in the Pro-Choice Caucus said co-chairwomen Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) are discussing a potential bill with Senator Murray.)

(NOTE: In fact the American Civil Liberties Union and countless news sources include pictures of the common oral contraceptive pill (OCP) to suggest that Hobby Lobby opposes contraception, this is patently false. Hobby Lobby provides OCP and virtually every mode of prescription contraception available.  In fact research into the popularity of birth control methods indicates that Hobby Lobby not only provides contraception, but provides the method of choice to 95% of women.  Basically, the Democratic Leadership is seeking to crush businesses of any ability to have a conscience that differs from their own, even organizations like the charitable Little Sisters of the Poor.)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

“Today’s Supreme Court decision makes clear that the Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear.  Obamacare is the single worst piece of legislation to pass in the last 50 years, and I was glad to see the Supreme Court agree that this particular Obamacare mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

 

House Speaker John Boehner (R- Ohio):

“Today’s decision is a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives.”

 

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.):

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is an important victory to protect Americans’ fundamental right of religious freedom. Americans should not be forced to choose between giving up their business for their faith or giving up their faith for their business. I applaud the Court’s decision today, which simply affirms the fundamental religious freedom that Americans have enjoyed for more than 220 years.”

 

Even the Party Chairpersons got involved:

 

Statement from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus:

“This decision protects the religious freedom that is guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment, and we’re grateful the Court ruled on the side of liberty. The central issue of this case was whether the federal government can coerce Americans to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, and thankfully the Court has upheld the proper limits on the government’s power.

 

“The fact that Americans had to bring this case in the first place reveals once again just how intrusive ObamaCare is. It’s a misguided one-size-fits-all policy that not only failed to fix our healthcare system but has trampled on our Constit
utional rights. Americans deserve a healthcare system that allows them to make the right choices for themselves, gives them more freedom, and comes nowhere close to encroaching on our First Amendment rights.”

 

An interview with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is shameless in its falsehoods:

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, is charging the Supreme Court with turning “the dial back” on women’s rights after its ruling Monday.

“Birth control costs about $600 a year,” Schultz said in an interview with MSNBC on Monday. “That financially impacts women, it prevents them from being able to join the middle class. Lets keep in mind, birth control has affected women economically positively since its creation and this is going to turn the dial back.”

 

Schultz’s criticisms come after the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that says for-profit companies can claim a religious right to opt out of covering certain forms of birth control for employees and their families. Although the decision has been cast as narrow, as it only applies to closely-held companies and contraception, Schultz claims that the implications could be far-reaching.

“This is a stifling decision for American women,” Schultz said. “It’s a decision that blocks women from being able to make their own health care decisions … This is deeply troubling because you have organized religions that oppose health care, period.”

 

Schultz also expressed concerns for later implications of the law, pointing out that women use birth control to treat illnesses, such as endometriosis, and serious menstrual cramping and saying “the life function day to day for women is dramatically impacted by this decision.”

 

 

Wrap Up:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops put it best in Yogi Berra fashion of “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over”

 

“The Court clearly did not decide whether the so-called ‘accommodation’ violates RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise.  We continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well.”

 

Resources:

 

The best resources for pre and post-court wrap up are:

 

Becket Fund (lawyers for the plaintiff Hobby Lobby)

           

            Becket Fund also has a list of all the Amicus briefs

 

Alliance Defending Freedom (lawyers for the plaintiff Conestoga Woods)

 

Heritage Foundation

 

 

 

You are invited: Bon Voyage Kathleen Sebelius

In her time heading up Health and Human Services (HHS) the department has turned into a hyper-partisan tool to further liberal pro-abortion policies to the point that even career employees within HHS have complained about the problems.  So I can certainly sympathize why they would want to throw a going away party for Kathleen Sebelius.  This was sent out to DC area HHS staff yesterday.

To: HHS-STAFF-METRODC@LIST.NIH.GOV
Subject: Invitation to Farewell Event for Secretary Sebelius

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

As you know, after more than five years of extraordinary leadership, Secretary Sebelius will be leaving the Department. 

 

Under the Secretary’s watch, we led our country through the H1N1 pandemic; we have worked to bring our food safety system into the 21st century; we have pushed the boundaries of science and technology to find critical cures; we have reformed and improved the way we help low-income kids prepare for a better future; we have expanded the reach of our Community Health Centers; we have increased access to behavioral health services; we have transformed the way we work with Indian Country; we have reorganized to better align our programs to maximize the independence of the elderly and people with disabilities; we have worked to reduce tobacco usage and obesity rates; we have reduced ethnic health disparities and are closer to an AIDS-free generation; and of course, we have successfully implemented the Affordable Care Act, the most historic reform of our health care system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. 

 

From Day One, Secretary Sebelius has been a tireless advocate for the issues we care so deeply about and the people we serve through our programs.  Through her tireless work, she has left an indelible mark on our nation’s history and profoundly contributed to our nation’s health and well-being.

 

We know all of us want to honor her leadership and wish her well.  Please join us on Monday, June 2nd from 4:30-6:00PM in the Great Hall of the Hubert H. Humphrey Building to celebrate her outstanding service to our nation as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

 

We look forward to see you there.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Bill Corr                       Andrea Palm

Deputy Secretary         Chief of Staff

For more on how HHS has changed for the worse under Mrs. Sebelius please go here.