After November, we march

I’ve caught flak from various quarters for my decision not to support either the GOP or Democratic nominee for President. Let it fly; that goes with the territory during election season. Let’s look past the election for a minute. Not too far past, either.

Whoever wins – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green – needs to see something a few days after inauguration: a March for Life in Washington that’s impossible to ignore. Peaceful, as always, but disruptive by its sheer volume and the determination of the marchers. It wouldn’t hurt for members of Congress to see that, too, particularly the Senators who will vote on any Supreme Court nominees.

Friday, January 27, 2017 is the date. The March has been moved from its usual January 22 date in order to accommodate the arrangements for the presidential inauguration.

I’m saving up for the trip myself, and keeping an eye out for chartered buses.

I know that financial and logistical factors make the March impossible for me most years. The alternative is the New Hampshire March for Life, sponsored every year by New Hampshire Right to Life, usually held the Saturday before the national March. Come to Concord. The Governor, Executive Councilors, and state reps will need to get the message, too. Marchers are always joined by some courageous and committed pro-life elected officials.

Harry Blackmun and his colleagues on the Supreme Court ensured by the timing of Roe v. Wade that we would have mid-winter weather to contend with on the decision’s anniversary. Last January’s March in Washington was held during a blizzard warning that prompted cancellations of many buses, and I don’t blame anyone who chose to stay home. Blizzards on the day of the March are rare, though. Usually it’s just cold and windy, and we New Englanders can handle that. And if Washington is besieged by weather, there’s always Concord.

Public witness to the right to life is becoming more important, not less.

Plan now.

Weekend Reading: know your rights; Zika; women betraying women

Gerard Nadal, M.D.: A doctor takes on the betrayal by the Supreme Court’s women – of other women (gerardnadal.com)

“As chemical abortions take deeper root, and as hospitals increasingly absorb the lucrative business from the closing of local clinics, the issue of the Texas law will shrink in importance; but the abandonment of women by all three women on the highest court in the land will live and grow in infamy. It will be seen by future generations for what it truly is.” Read the rest of the post.

Jonathan S. Tobin: Planned Parenthood undoes a Zika bill (commentarymagazine.com)

“Funding for Zika was defeated in the Senate on…when Democrats voted it down. Like all Congressional spending bills, this one contained a variety of provisions that came out of the dickering between the two bodies. Among the ‘poison pills’ that offended Democratic sensibilities was a provision that excluded Planned Parenthood from the funding…

“Yet the reason this bill failed can be boiled down to one memo and the memories of the government shutdown crisis of 2013. Faced with the choice of either offending Planned Parenthood or failing to pass a bill that provided the Zika money they had been demanding be allocated for months, the Democrats chose the latter. Moreover, they did so because they were also sure that no matter how partisan and divisive their own behavior, Democrats have come to believe that the media will blame Republicans for any Congressional standoff.” Read the rest of the post.

40 Days for Life podcast: what are your rights on the sidewalk?

From the 40 Days for Life headquarters’ podcast library comes reassuring information about the rights of peaceful witnesses outside abortion facilities. Here’s the link; the relevant information begins around the 8:45 mark.


Alito: “those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern”

In declining to hear a case about conscience rights, a decision coinciding with Fortnight for Freedom, the U. S. Supreme Court just underscored the vulnerability of professionals who refuse in the course of their work to participate in ending human life.

The case involved pharmacists in Washington state who challenged a rule by the Washington Board of Pharmacy. Americans United for Life issued a recent statement summarizing the case.

The U.S. Supreme Court [on June 28, 2016] declined an opportunity to hear Stormans v. Wiesman, a challenge to a 2007 Washington Board of Pharmacy rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners with religious objections to stocking drugs with known life-ending effects. “Despite this missed opportunity to correct an unconstitutional abuse of power, the Washington State rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners who respect unborn life can and should be immediately repealed,” said Clarke Forsythe, AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel.

“The rule at issue in the Stormans case is unfortunately one of many examples where abortion advocates are pushing an extreme agenda of coercion under the faulty guise of ‘choice.’  As AUL has written about extensively, Planned Parenthood’s fingerprints are all over the unnecessary and unconstitutional rule,” continued Forsythe.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito disagreed with their colleagues who voted not to hear the Stormans appeal. As this year’s Fortnight for Freedom comes to a close, the words of Alito’s dissent are timely.

I would [hear the case] to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights….

This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State. Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case worthy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern.

 

 

Deal with it: life after the Court’s latest misstep

I have a constitutional right to substandard care, as long as abortion’s involved. At least that’s what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Breyer and four of his colleagues think. All women, pro-choice and pro-life alike, have reason to choke on that.


In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court tossed out hospital admitting requirements for abortion providers and requirements that abortion facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Gosnell must be loving this.

I’m not. I was discouraged for about forty-five minutes, then I got angry. The decision stinks. Even so, I have to deal with it.

I’ll deal with it like this.

  • Witness. Recommit to 40 Days for Life with its peaceful and decidedly un-political witness to clients and workers at abortion facilities.
  • Demonstrate. Marches for Life in Washington and in my state capital next January, rallies at the State House:  simple ways to remind the Justices and their abettors that they haven’t settled anything.
  • Demand stats. Keep working for an abortion statistics law. Without reliable stats, people like Justice Ginsburg can chant about how “safe” abortion is.  There are no reliable uniformly-collected nationwide public health statistics to back that up. Ask the Centers for Disease Control. Its abortion surveillance reports are full of footnotes about the different figures kept by different states, and about the lack of information from several states including my own.
  • Protect whistleblowers. If a worker at an abortion facility goes public with concerns about facility conditions, is the worker protected from reprisals? Time to find out.
  • Remember Gosnell, from grand jury report to verdict.  Breyer mentioned the Gosnell scandal in the Whole Woman’s Health decision, only to dismiss its relevance. He has the devil’s own nerve being so cavalier about women’s health.
  • Fight public funding of abortion providers who with their support of Whole Woman’s Health are in favor of making substandard care a Constitutional right.  

A tall order, all that – until I’m reminded that five Supreme Court Justices, including three women,  consider women’s health to be less important than the business interests of abortion providers.

That’s unacceptable. Pushback starts now.

 

“Game-changer”: Supreme Court helps the Little Sisters, though mandate stands

For now, the Little Sisters of the Poor and the numerous other faith-based agencies fighting the HHS contraceptive mandate will NOT be subject to federal penalties for refusing to be a party (via employer-provided health insurance) to provision of goods and services that violate their faith. A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision today made that clear, while sending thirteen challenges to the mandate back to lower courts.


“This is a game-changer,” said Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund, representing the Little Sisters. “The Court has accepted the government’s concession that it can get drugs to people without using the Little Sisters. The Court has eliminated all of the bad decisions from the lower courts. And the Court has forbidden the government from fining the Little Sisters even though they are refusing to bow to the government’s will. It is only a matter of time before the lower courts make this victory permanent.”

I admire Mr. Rienzi’s optimism. I hope he’s right.

The eight Justices declined to rule on the legality of the mandate, which is a regulation that followed the federal Obamacare fiat that contraception for women is a basic “preventive” health service. This federal policy that women are basically broken and in need of fixing is left untouched by today’s Court action.

The federal government can go ahead and provide the coverage for contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, under today’s Court action.

The bad news is that this means no majority could be mustered in the Court to reject the mandate altogether. That was the “decision” of the day: the mandate is still legal, despite numerous carve-outs and exemptions. From SCOTUSblog:

“The two issues that the Court had agreed to rule on, and then left hanging at least for now, were whether the [Affordable Care Act] mandate violates the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act by requiring religious non-profits that object to contraceptives to notify the government of that position, and whether the move by the government to go ahead and arrange access to those benefits for those non-profits’ employees and students was the ‘least restrictive means’ to carry out the mandate.”

“A decision not to make a decision is still a decision.” Those words were drummed into my head by my public-policy professor more than three decades ago as I studied landmark Supreme Court cases. An important non-decision was made today: the mandate stands. So do at least thirteen challenges to it, though, and that’s good news.

(See earlier Leaven coverage at “Religious Liberty and the HHS/Obamacare mandate.”)