No Abortion Workers = No Abortions

April 8, 2013 is National Leave the Abortion Industry Day.

Abby Johnson and her coworkers at And Then There Were None picked the date at random.

And Then There Were None is a pro-life ministry created by Johnson to give abortion workers who want to leave the industry the tools to do so. Johnson and her co-workers created National Leave the Abortion Industry Day, also known as Exodus 2013, to encourage abortion workers seeking to get out of the industry by giving them a day they could band together in solidarity.

They didn’t realize that April 8 is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord as well as Holocaust Remembrance Day. On top of that, Exodus 2013 is the Bible verse that says Thou shalt not kill.

Johnson said that when she and her coworkers discovered all these connections, they “didn’t think there was any coincidence,”

All I can say is that And Then There Were None is a much-needed ministry. People who leave the abortion industry are wounded. Those who tried to leave in the past had to walk out alone. This often meant losing every friend and every bit of emotional support they had, in addition to losing their livelihoods.

I believe many more abortion workers would leave, but they are afraid. Abby Johnson, by showing them that there is support  waiting for them, is doing a wonderful pro life work.

The equation is simple: No abortion workers = No abortions

From CNA/EWTN:

.- Former abortion clinic manager Abby Johnson is organizing a day – called “Exodus 2013” – for abortion workers seeking to leave the industry to band together in solidarity and encouragement.

“We kind of thought picking one particular day might bring about a sense of camaraderie,” Johnson told CNA, “that they might all feel a little more courageous if they know they’re doing it with other people.”

“Exodus 2013 – National Leave the Abortion Industry Day” will take place across the country on April 8, helping workers wishing to leave the abortion industry to gather both the courage and resources to do so.

Johnson said that contact with pro-life organizations, including 40 Days for Life, helped her to leave her job as the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in 2009.

She later became a pro-life advocate and founded an organization called “And Then There Were None” to help abortion workers find the information, support and funds to leave the abortion business.

The group offers emotional support and arranges for counseling, because “these workers have seen and participated in things the general public wouldn’t be able to stomach,” Johnson explained. In addition, spiritual care from one’s religious tradition can be arranged for those who want it.

The organization is also able to provide pro-bono legal assistance through its partnership with legal firm Alliance Defending Freedom for individuals who are prosecuted by the abortion clinics. Since the ministry’s start last June, 47 abortion clinic workers have left the abortion industry with Johnson’s help.

“We’ve had amazing success through our ministry,” she said, “and we just kind of thought – maybe if we could get a day where we asked people to just pick up and leave the abortion industry…it would at least be good exposure to let clinic workers know that there is a resource for them.”

The name “Exodus 2013” was initially chosen simply to suggest a large number of people leaving the abortion industry in 2013, Johnson explained, and the date of the event was picked purely at random.

Later, however, Johnson realized that April 8 would be the celebration of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which was moved in the Catholic liturgical calendar from its normal date of March 25 due to Holy Week and the Octave of Easter. The Catholic feast day celebrates the announcement of the archangel Gabriel to Mary that she was to conceive Jesus by the Holy Spirit. (Read the rest here.)

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It’s Easter … and the Fight for Religious Freedom Continues

I focused on Holy Week issues last week.

I would love to continue doing the same thing this first week of Easter. In fact, it might be nice to never do anything else. But the world and our duty to engage the world for Christ goes on.

Challenges to the HHS Mandate continue to wend their way through the judicial process. 

Hobby Lobby was granted a hearing of its appeal against the HHS Mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges. Most appeals are heard by three judges. The fact that the whole panel will hear this one reflects the seriousness of the issue involved. I can think of few issues more serious than whether or not the First Amendment applies to applies to everyone.

We need to continue to support both EWTN and Hobby Lobby, as well as all others who have stepped up to fight for our freedoms.  I got paid today. I’ll be too busy to do any shopping for a few days, but the first chance I get, I’m heading to Hobby Lobby. I may top it off with lunch at Chick Fil-A. I hope you do the same.

From CNA:

.- Christian-owned craft giant Hobby Lobby will be able to make its appeal against the federal contraception mandate before a full federal panel of nine judges, rather than the usual three.

“Full court review is reserved only for the most serious legal questions,” explained Kyle Duncan, general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in a press release on March 29. The Becket Fund is representing the owners of Hobby Lobby in court.

Duncan said that the decision to grant a full nine-judge hearing speaks to the gravity of the issue.

“This case asks whether the First Amendment protects everyone’s right to religious freedom, or whether it leaves out religious business owners like the Greens,” he explained.

As its religious freedom case comes before a federal court, Hobby Lobby had petitioned for an “en banc” hearing, or an appeals hearing before the full bench of nine judges.

“We are grateful that the court granted Hobby Lobby’s petition,” said Duncan. (Read more here.)

Meanwhile, EWTN’s lawsuit against the HHS Mandate was dismissed by an Alabama court because the court said the case “wasn’t ripe.” I would make a comment about the choice of the word “ripe,” but it’s too easy. EWTN has vowed to fight on.

If you’re getting the idea that going to court is a roll of the dice, you’re right. It all depends on which judge you draw and if their lunch agreed with them.

From CNA:

.- The EWTN Global Catholic Network is “extremely disappointed” by a Monday court ruling that dismissed as “unripe” its lawsuit against a federal mandate that could require the organization to violate Catholic teaching.

“Contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs are not healthcare. EWTN cannot and will not compromise our strongly held beliefs on these moral issues,” EWTN President and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said March 25.

On Monday Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn of the U.S. District Court in Birmingham dismissed the Irondale, Ala.-based organization’s lawsuit until new regulations are “created and finalized.” The March 25 court decision agreed that EWTN has standing to sue, but it sided with Obama administration lawyers who contended that the case is not ripe for review. (Read more here.) 

 

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Archbishop Lori Issues Statement of Support for the Health Care Conscience Rights Act

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who is chair of the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, has voiced support for the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, authored by Representative Diane Black (R-TN).

Archbishop Lori issued the following statement:

“I am grateful to Congresswoman Black and other sponsors for their leadership today. I welcome the Health Care Conscience Rights Act and call for its swift passage into law. While federal laws are on the books protecting conscience rights in health care, this Act would make such protection truly effective. This overdue measure is especially needed in light of new challenges to conscience rights arising from the federal health care reform act.”

Representative Black’s legislation comes after she and 13 other members of Congress sent a letter to the House leadership requesting that the issue of freedom of conscience be included in the upcoming budget bill. This letter opened the doorway for the Republican leadership to make their stand-off with the President over budget concerns about something noble instead of using it to stop tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. 

Hopefully, they will see it that way and take the action that the signers of the letter asked of them. 

Meanwhile, Representative Black announced at a press conference today that she is authoring a separate statute to guarantee the right of conscience to health care workers. 

If you wish to contact your Congressional delegation to ask them to support both Representative Black’s bill and putting the issue of religious freedom into the budget bill, you can find their emails and phone numbers here

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Representative Diane Black Introduces the Health Care Conscience Protection Act

Representative Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and John Fleming, MD (R-LA) announced that they will introduce the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA.)

It is bill number HR 940.

According to Rep Black’s website, HR 940, “offers reprieve from ongoing violations of our First Amendment, including full exemption from the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and conscience protection for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply-held, reasoned beliefs. HCCRA has 50 original co-sponsors.”

Representative Black allowed individuals who have been harmed by the government’s attacks on freedom of religion to speak at the press conference announcing this bill. They were:

Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, RN – New York State nurse who filed suit after her freedom to serve patients according to her conscience was violated. For more information, click here.

·         Susan Elliott, PhD, Director and Professor at Biola University Nursing Department. For more information, click here.

·         Christine Ketterhagen, Co-Owner/Board Member of Hercules Industries, Inc.; Andy Newland, President of Hercules Industries; Bill Newland, Chairman of the Board of Hercules Industries. For more information, click here

·         Sister Jane Marie Klein, OSF, Chairperson of the Board of Franciscan Alliance, Inc. (in Mishawaka, IN). Franciscan Alliance is a co-plaintiff with the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Representative Black’s website included the following provisions in the Health Care Conscience Act:

HHS Mandate:

Under the health care coverage mandate issued on August 3, 2011, widely known as the HHS mandate, organizations and their managers are now facing potentially ruinous financial penalties for exercising their First Amendment rights, as protected by law. Hobby Lobby, a family business that was denied injunctive relief from the mandate and faces fines of up to $1.3 million dollars a day, unless its owners agree to fund potentially abortion-inducing drugs. If Hobby Lobby is forced to close its doors, some 25,000 jobs nationwide may disappear. The Obama Administration’s HHS mandate exemption only includes houses of worship and does not account for the thousands of religious and non-religious affiliated employers that find it a moral hazard to cover sterilization, contraception and potentially abortion-inducing drugs on their employer-based health insurance. Ultimately, the so-called “accommodation” does not protect anyone’s religious rights, because all companies and organizations will still be forced to provide insurance coverage that includes services which conflict with their religious convictions. The HCCRA would address this violation of our First Amendment rights by providing a full exemption for all those whose religious beliefs run counter to the Administration’s HHS mandate.

Abortion Non-Discrimination:

The HCCRA also protects institutions and individuals from forced or coerced participation in abortion.  In recent years there have been several examples of nurses being told they must participate in abortions. There have also been efforts to require Catholic Hospitals to do abortions, and a Catholic social service provider was denied a grant to assist victims of human trafficking on the basis of their pro-life convictions.  The HCCRA codifies and clarifies the appropriations provision known as the Hyde‐Weldon conscience clause. This is accomplished by adding the protections for health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer for abortion to the section of the Public Health Service Act known as the Coats Amendment. It also adds the option of judicial recourse for victims whose rights have been violated under the HCCRA, Coats, or the conscience clauses known as the Church amendments.

You can call your Congresspeople at 202-224-3121. Or you can find their email addresses here

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Polls Show Americans Believe in Jesus and the God of the Bible

The more I blog, the more I realize that the reactions of unbelievers are predictable, and if you think about them for a moment, understandable.

It appears that those who oppose traditional Christianity, or who want things, such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, which traditional Christianity does not support, do not like to hear that anyone, anywhere, disagrees with them. One of their most common shibboleths is that Christians, particularly Catholics, do not believe what their Church teaches and do not adhere to those teachings.

This is repeatedly brought into discussions, usually with vague references to “polls” that indicate this “fact.” The implication of these comments is that if Catholics don’t even support their Church, then traditional Christian teachings are valueless and should be discarded.

But the polls that they reference do not stand up to close inspection. It turns out that the poll numbers in question refer to polls that equate “Catholics” who don’t attend church and have had no contact with the religion they claim, many times for most of their lives.

When Catholics who actually attend mass on at least a fairly regular basis are polled, it turns out that they do support their Church and believe in its teachings. One of the simplest ways to use polls for propaganda is to select a sample of people you poll who will give you the results you want. When pollsters talk about what Catholics believe, their results will be much more accurate if they poll people who are practicing Catholics.

Rasmussen has done a number of polls whose results will come as a surprise to anyone who believes what they read in the anti-Christian, Catholic bashing media. 

It turns out that people feel connected to their churches, that their loyalty to their church comes first after their families, and that a large majority of Americans believe in Jesus and the God of the Bible. 

If this is true, why do our government entities, from school boards to state legislatures and on up to the White House behave as if it wasn’t true? Why do we live in a world where government treats Christians as an ignorant and bigoted minority who must be ignored, and if that doesn’t work, oppressed and forced into silence?

Our country has taken an ugly turn from recent days when “You can go to church as much as you want, but leave it there.” was a hectoring comment that religious elected officials had shoved in their faces. Now, the law itself is beginning to enforce this.

It turns out that these moves toward legal discrimination against people of faith such as the HHS Mandate are being enacted in the face of a confused and propaganda-bound majority. It really is time that Christians stop allowing themselves to be flim and flammed this way.

Here is a summary of a few of the Rasmussen polls I am talking about:

When given a choice between several levels of community beyond their own family, most Americans choose either their church or their country. More than a third of adults (35%) say their strongest personal allegiance other than family is to their church. Nearly as many (31%) say their strongest allegiance is to their country, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults. Just six percent (6%) name the global community as their strongest personal connection, while five percent (5%) name some other community organization. Four percent (4%) each say their town or state represents their biggest personal allegiance. (To see survey question wording,click here.)

Two-out-of-three Americans (64%) believe in the God of the Bible. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey also finds that 12% do not believe in God at all. Eleven percent (11%) believe in some form or essence of God, five percent (5%) in some other form of God, and eight percent (8%) are not sure.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Eight-out-of-10 Americans (80%) say that their religious faith is at least somewhat important in their daily lives, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. (Click here.)

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 86% of American Adults believe the person known to history as Jesus Christ walked the Earth 2,000 years ago. Just seven percent (7%) don’t share this belief. (To see survey question wording, click here).

Holiday shoppers, as they have for several years, would prefer to be greeted with signs reading “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays” this season. (Click here.)

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 70% prefer that stores use signs that say “Merry Christmas.” (Click here.)

 

 

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Fourteen Members of Congress Sign Letter Asking that Conscience Rights Be Included in Budget Bill

Fourteen members of Congress sent a letter to the House leadership asking that conscience rights be included in the upcoming budget bill. They mentioned specific violations of the right to conscience, including the HHS Mandate. Thirteen of the 14 signers were women. This puts the lie to the claim that women support attacks on religious freedom and individual freedom of conscience such as the HHS Mandate.

This is an unprecedented move by these House members which could have far-reaching consequences for the future of religious freedom in this country. I don’t know if these Congresspeople wrote this letter in response to the call for Congress to make the HHS Mandate a bargaining chip in the sequester/fiscal cliff/budget negotiations. But I do know that this letter came shortly after grassroots lobbying efforts  for this kind of move began.

Fourteen signers out of 453 voting members of the US House may not sound like much, but I think it’s a great start. By putting their names on this letter, these Congresspeople have stepped out in front of the issue of religious freedom and used their clout as members of the majority party to urge their leadership to do the same.

I am going to contact members of my Congressional delegation and ask them to sign on to this letter, as well. Hopefully, we will get many more Republicans and a few Democrats to sign. I am also going to contact those who signed this letter and thank them.

You can contact your Congressman or woman by going here.

 

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Have You Shopped at Hobby Lobby This Month?

I headed to Hobby Lobby as soon as I deposited my paycheck last week. 

I don’t buy big, but I try to buy something every month. It’s the least I can do to support them in their fight for my freedom and yours. 

Hobby Lobby is still embroiled in a bitter court battle with the Obama administration over the HHS Mandate. Owner David Green has said that the company will pay the huge fines the government plans to assess rather than pay for health insurance coverage for abortifacients. Hobby Lobby already pays for birth control coverage for employees who receive health insurance, so that is not the issue.

The real question is whether or not the government can confine First Amendment freedoms to religious institutions, or if those freedoms belong to every American. 

In my opinion, the government position in this is a legalized version of what I was once told about my job as a legislator: You can go to church all you want, but leave it there. The HHS Mandate is an attempt to enforce that outrageous demand by law and to punish those who refuse to adhere to it with crippling fines and penalties.

If this position is allowed to stand, I do not think it will be all that long before similar penalties are imposed on individual people like you and me, and not just Christian businesses.

The thrust of militant secularism is to push people of faith and religious ideas out of the public sphere and into an intellectual and social ghetto. This ghettoizing of people of faith, particularly Christians, is moving along at a fast pace in our Western society. The idea that the government would do something as egregious as the HHS Mandate was something everyone thought was a ridiculous impossibility just a few years ago.

Now, we have most of the press and large swaths of the population, including “progressive” Christian Churches, supporting what amounts to an outright government attack on religious freedom. What was unthinkable a few years ago has come to pass.

It is being pushed on us with lies, distortions and obfuscations from genuine true-believer militant secularists, and those kool-aid drinking Christians who have deluded themselves into thinking that the time when this same sword will be used on them will never come. These sad folks are joining with those who attack their own house and are trying to draw the rest of us into that delusion along with them.

I thank God for people like the owner of Hobby Lobby who are willing to stand for Christ, no matter what the cost.

The Baptist Press recently published an interview with members of the Green family. It says in part:

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) — Hobby Lobby has been pushed to the front lines of a monumental battle over religious liberty just when the arts and crafts chain is aiming to open a Bible museum near the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

“God’s up to something,” Steve Green, Hobby Lobby’s president, often says.

“We’re just along for the ride.”

Hobby Lobby’s founder — Green’s father, David — has publicly stated the company will not obey a federal mandate to provide employee health insurance that covers abortion-causing drugs. The 530-store chain could face government fines amounting to $1.3 million a day if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services forces its will on Hobby Lobby and numerous other privately owned businesses lead by Christians who regard abortion as the taking of innocent life.

Steve Green, meanwhile, is leading Hobby Lobby’s plan to open a museum showcasing many of the 40,000 Bible artifacts in The Green Collection secured by the family’s company over the past three years. The museum and accompanying research center will be housed in 400,000-500,000 square feet renovated from two office buildings two blocks from the Air and Space Museum and a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The yet-unnamed museum could open as early as the fall of 2016.

Green spoke about the court battle and the museum to editors who visited Hobby Lobby’s headquarters, its sprawling manufacturing plant and four distribution centers on the outskirts of Oklahoma City during the Association of State Baptist Publications’ Feb. 11-14 annual meeting.

Asked if the HHS mandate, if ultimately enforced by the courts, could cost Hobby Lobby its solvency and its vision for a Bible museum, Green said, “I don’t have the answer to that. All I know is that we’re in good hands. I anticipate that it’s going to be a long battle.

“And what and where God directs this, I don’t know.”

Hobby Lobby, in its suit against the HHS mandate, remains in federal appeals court among dozens of companies objecting to the abortion insurance requirement.

“We haven’t gotten to the merits of the case,” Green said of the Hobby Lobby suit. “This is just asking for the injunction. …

“Even if we get a no” on the merits of the case — if two appeals courts issue “two different rulings — and there have been on the injunction — then it’s more likely that the Supreme Court would make a ruling on it. That’s probably, at earliest, a couple of years down the road,” Green said.

Asked how Hobby Lobby’s supporters can pray for the company, Green requested prayer “for the wisdom to say the right things and not say what we shouldn’t be saying. I think that we’re pretty clear. We know what our answer is.

“Pray for our government leaders,” Green added, “and the judges who are going to make the decisions, that exactly what God wants, happens.” (Read the rest here.) 

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Cardinal Dolan: Three Challenges Facing the Next Pope

Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently gave an interview to Catholic News Service in which he discussed what he feels are the three critical challenges our next pope will have to address.

I think Cardinal Dolan’s assessment is well worth watching.

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Up to Our Earlobes in Alligators: Marriage, Religious Freedom and Fiscal Cliffs, Oh My!

 

We are up to our ears in alligators folks.

Trying to respond to all the challenges to faith, sanity and the future of Western Civilization these days is like playing a game of whackamole on speed. 

But there are things you can do. Pick one and do it. Then tomorrow, pick another and do that.

Here are a few ideas. If you have others, please add them in the comments section.

 Marriage

Now that the president has come out swinging for gay marriage, and Britain and France have heads of state who are doing the same, we appear to be in a losing battle on this one. States are passing gay marriage referendums, poll numbers keep piling up in favor of redefining marriage essentially out of existence, and in Britain and other places where they are further along with this than the USA, the refuse from this change is already piling up.

Christians are losing their jobs, being sued and excluded from public life in those countries because they will not compromise on the Gospels. I’ve been told that Britain is talking about doing away with the legal notion that marriage has anything to do with sexual fidelity, since, (I guess) they think that somehow tracks with gay marriage.

So, what are we to do?

First of all, we are to stay the course. We are to stand our ground. Do not quit on the Gospels of Christ because polls tell you that other people are doing that. Do not ever make following Jesus a matter of what is popular or trendy.

Second, we need to take good care of our own marriages. Love your spouse. Raise your children. Be there, at home with your family as a true husband or wife; father or mother.

Third, we can pray/fast and offer our concerns about the future of marriage up to the Lord, uniting them with His sufferings. Kathy Schiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, published a post about a suggestion from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is what part of what she said:

The U.S. Bishops have an idea:  With the Supreme Court about to hear an important case on the rights of homosexuals to marry, the bishops invite you to fast today.  Dedicate your penance, they urge, for the intention of marriage:

For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.

This is a good idea.  Just publishing their flyer today, on the day of fast, is NOT such a good idea—I’d have told you (and told myself!) yesterday, had I seen anything in the news about it.  (Of course, it may have been pushed aside due to the dramatic news yesterday, namely, the resignation of our Holy Father.) 

Nonetheless, late is better than not at all; so if you’ve already had breakfast and lunch and some snacks (as I have), consider sacrificing in whatever way you can today:  have dinner an hour late; skip the dessert; don’t eat between meals.  Let us join together to offer our minor mortifications in defense of the sacred institution of marriage.

As Kathy notes, it’s too late to skip eating between meals today. But it’s not too late to engage in another simple type of penance. I am going to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and offer that up. I’m sure you can think of something that will work for you.

Fourth: We can go to Washington to participate in the March for Marriage on March 26, 2013. We are having our annual Oklahoma March for Life on the 25th, so I don’t know if I can manage to go, but I am looking into it. A reader asked me a couple of weeks ago if I knew how we could manage to communicate with the Supreme Court. I didn’t answer her, because I wasn’t sure what to say. Now I know of one way, and this march is it.

You can find details at the March for Marriage website here. The March for Marriage Facebook page is here.

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has also written about this march. You can check it out here. I got this great logo from Frank’s blog:

 

Religious Freedom

I already gave you a “to do” for this one. You need to call or email your United States Senator or Congressperson and ask them to make the repeal of the HHS Mandate their bargaining point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight. You can find who they are and how to contact them here.

You might also drop a note to the National Democratic and Republican Parties, letting them know that you oppose the HHS Mandate and support religious freedom.

You can email the Republican National Committee here.

You can email the Democratic National Committee here.

Do not underestimate the power of these national parties where issues like this are concerned. In a Congress of Puppet People, they are often the ones who ultimately pull the strings.

 

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Freedom of Religion Legislative Action Alert

I received the following legislative action alert concerning the HHS Mandate in an email this morning. 

The alert asks people to contact their Congresspeople urging them to make the repealing the HHS Mandate a sticking point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight currently going on in Congress right now.

In my opinion, our supporters in Congress should have done this a year ago, before the Mandate took effect. But, later is much better than never.

You can contact your Senators and Representatives by calling their local offices or you can do it by email. To learn who your elected officials in Washington are, and get their phone numbers and email addresses, go here

This is the full text of the alert, which comes from the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment:

In 2012, the Obama Administration’s contraceptive and sterilization mandate went into effect for most employers. Congress is preparing to consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation. Needed conscience protection provisions should be made a part of this legislation. Today please urge your Representative and two Senators to take action to protect conscience rights and religious liberty!

Recommended Actions:

  • Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here
  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Additional contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at: www.senate.gov andwww.house.gov.

Suggested Message: “Please support legislation to protect the rights of conscience in health care when you take up ‘must-pass’ bills such as a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or sponsor or purchase health coverage. The Administration’s contraceptive mandate forces health coverage to include sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, even when employers and employees have moral or religious objections.”

When: Congress may consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation such as a Continuing Resolution as early as the week of March 4. Please contact your Representative and two Senators today!

Background

In a February 15 letter to Congress, Archbishop William Lori, Chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, described specific conscience protection provisions and why they are needed, concluding: “I urge you in the strongest terms possible to incorporate the provisions described above in the upcoming legislative proposals to fund the federal government.” See:nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/LoriLttr021513.pdf.

Under the new health care law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including services that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons. These objectionable services include sterilization, FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity,” including minor girls. The HHS mandate allows only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.”

On February 1, HHS released a new “proposed rule” that goes into greater detail on the “accommodation” but continues to allow only a very narrow exemption, chiefly aimed at what it calls “houses of worship.” Other religious organizations offering education, health care and charitable services to all in need do not qualify for the exemption. There is no exemption or delay for individuals, or for businesses owned and operated by individuals with moral or religious objections.

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