Law forcing sales of abortion pill struck down

Yes, Christians have often criticized the courts.  But as anti-religion laws proliferate, the courts may be a wall of defense.  The same judge that struck down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about gays has made a ruling that protects religious conscience:

A federal court in Tacoma, Washington, struck down a Washington law that requires pharmacists to dispense the morning-after pill even when doing so would violate their religious beliefs. The court held that the law violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

“Today’s decision sends a very clear message: No individual can be forced out of her profession solely because of her religious beliefs,” said Luke Goodrich, Deputy National Litigation Director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The Becket Fund, together with the Seattle-based law firm of Ellis, Li & McKinstry, represents the plaintiffs in the case. “If the state allows pharmacies to refer patients elsewhere for economic, business, and convenience reasons, it has to allow them to refer for reasons of conscience,” added Mr. Goodrich.

The plaintiffs in the case are a family-owned pharmacy (Ralph’s Thriftway) and two individual pharmacists (Margo Thelen and Rhonda Mesler) who cannot in good conscience dispense Plan B (“the morning-after pill”) or ella (“the week-after pill”). These individuals believe that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, and that these drugs destroy human life because they can operate by destroying a fertilized egg, or embryo. Rather than dispensing those drugs, they refer patients to one of dozens of nearby pharmacies that stock and dispense them.

In 2007, the Washington State Board of Pharmacy passed new regulations making it illegal to refer patients to neighboring pharmacies for reasons of conscience, despite allowing them to refer patients elsewhere for a wide variety of business, economic, or convenience reasons. Because of the regulations, Margo Thelen lost her job; Rhonda Mesler was told she would have to transfer to another state; and Kevin Stormans, the owner of Ralph’s Thriftway, faced repeated investigations and threats of punishment from the State Board of Pharmacy.

“The Board of Pharmacy’s 2007 rules are not neutral, and they are not generally applicable,” the Court explained. “They were designed instead to force religious objectors to dispense Plan B, and they sought to do so despite the fact that refusals to deliver for all sorts of secular reasons were permitted.”

via Court Strikes Down Law Requiring Pharmacies to Dispense the Morning-After Pill | Becket Fund.

Maybe this will become a legal precedent when the Obamacare insurance mandate ends up in court.

Birth control as a winning issue for Democrats?

Religious people are for the most part appalled at the Obamacare mandate that employers must provide health insurance that will provide free abortion pills and contraceptives.  This is seen as a profound assault on religious liberty, forcing people by law to do what their religion forbids.

The left, though, is framing the issue as being all about birth control, ignoring the religious liberty angle altogether.  And Democrats are elated, convinced that they have found their winning issue that will make voters forget all about the economy in order to drive out of public life once and for all those crazy religious people who are against sex and who want to keep all women pregnant.

Sample the rhetoric and the cynical political strategy from this:  It’s Democrats who are putting focus on birth control – She the People: – The Washington Post.

Which side do you think will be more effective in framing the issues?

Forcing a company to give away a product for free

Charles Krauthammer points out yet another problem with President Obama’s contraceptive mandate compromise:

The president of the United States has just ordered private companies to give away for free a service that his own health and human services secretary has repeatedly called a major financial burden.

On what authority? Where does it say that the president can unilaterally order a private company to provide an allegedly free-standing service at no cost to certain select beneficiaries? . . . .

To solve his own political problem, the president presumes to order a private company to enter into a contract for the provision of certain services — all of which must be without charge. And yet, this breathtaking arrogation of power is simply the logical extension of Washington’s takeover of the private system of medical care — a system Obama farcically pretends to be maintaining.

Under Obamacare, the state treats private insurers the way it does government-regulated monopolies and utilities. It determines everything of importance. Insurers, by definition, set premiums according to risk. Not anymore. The risk ratios (for age, gender, smoking, etc.) are decreed by Washington. This is nationalization in all but name. The insurer is turned into a middleman, subject to state control — and presidential whim. . . .

This constitutional trifecta — the state invading the autonomy of religious institutions, private companies and the individual citizen — should not surprise. It is what happens when the state takes over one-sixth of the economy.

via Charles Krauthammer: Overreach — Obamacare vs. the Constitution – The Washington Post.

“Please get the federal government out of our consciences”

Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

“I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, ‘I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.’

“We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

“We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

“I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

“We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.”

via Missouri Synod President tells House Committee: LCMS ‘religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs’ – The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

More bullying from Planned Parenthood

Now Planned Parenthood has released its minions on a Wisconsin food pantry for the poor:

One thing we learned from the Komen/Planned Parenthood fiasco is that it may be easier to say no to the mob than Planned Parenthood. We saw it again recently in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This one didn’t make much news, but created a local social network bully fest.

Planned Parenthood called Paul’s Pantry, part of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the biggest food pantry in Wisconsin, and asked them to come and pick up donations, which may have been noble, but wasn’t something the Catholic organization felt comfortable doing — sending a truck over and perhaps giving the abortion provider a photo opportunity. The American Life League reports what the worker at the pantry said:

“All I told the young lady from Planned Parenthood was that I couldn’t send a truck to pick up, and gave her a list of other food pantries that might want to pick up, I gave her no reason at all and she didn’t ask why. Soon after, I started receiving the hate e-mail and phone calls. I politely explained to callers that although we are non-denominational in regards to those we serve, we are a Catholic organization who shares a board of directors with our sister organization, St. Vincent de Paul. We adhere to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and to the Rule of St. Vincent de Paul. I also explained our Gift Acceptance Policy and how acceptance of the donation would compromise our core values and possibly damage the reputation of Paul’s Pantry.”

As with Komen, choice wasn’t okay with Planned Parenthood, and within a short amount of time, verbal abuse rolled in. Jill Stanek reports that a worker at Paul’s Pantry explained:

“Within 20 minutes I was getting phone calls and emails calling us [names]. The calls that day came from the Milwaukee area, where Planned Parenthood is headquartered. We have caller ID.”

[He] said he did tell one of the callers they could simply drop off their donation, “which happens about 100 times a day – in that case we don’t know where the food comes from. But if an organization wants a receipt, Paul’s Pantry has a gift acceptance policy. “If the donation is going to hurt us, we don’t accept it.”

Craig said it never got to that point with Planned Parenthood, though. PP invented the rest of the story. “What was their purpose?” asked Paul. “If they really intended to feed the poor they should have just dropped the food off and left it at that. But was it for their own self-promotion?”

The abuse didn’t stop there, though. First, Planned Parenthood broadcast it to their Facebook page on February 2:

Then Daily Kos got in on the action and bashed the pantry, then listed the phone number and the employee names and told people to call in protest.

Which resulted in a massive deluge of verbal abuse.  (Follow the link for examples and more details.)

via Now Planned Parenthood bullies Catholic food bank for saying no to them | LifeSiteNews.com.

HT:  Mary

Matt Harrison to testify to Congressional committee today

I have it on good authority that Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, will testify before a Congressional committee investigating the religious liberty issues in the Obamacare abortion pill/contraception mandate.  Testimony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET.  I’m told that you can watch it here:  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

I’m glad he is doing this.  It’s important to demonstrate that this is not just a Roman Catholic issue.

Do you think this is good for him to do?  Or is this a violation of the Lutheran doctrine of the Two Kingdoms?  Or is it an example of that doctrine?


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