Dominique Ludvigson

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A victory for religious freedom: Illinois pharmacists win conscience rights on morning-after pill

Dominique Ludvigson
By Dominique Ludvigson

CHICAGO, December 14, 2012, (Heritage Foundation)—On Tuesday, the state of Illinois declined to appeal a recent loss in the Illinois Court of Appeals, which ruled in late September that the state cannot force pharmacists and pharmacies to stock and dispense abortion-inducing drugs in violation of their religious beliefs.

The Illinois Attorney General’s decision marks the end of the state’s senseless, seven-year campaign against the religious objectors and their ability to operate their small businesses in accordance with their beliefs.

The case, Morr-Fitz v. Quinn, commenced in 2005 when then-Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) issued an “Emergency Rule” mandating that all pharmacies and pharmacists stock and fill prescriptions for drugs, including Plan B (“the morning-after pill”)—which can act as an abortifacient.

The rule appeared targeted directly at religious objectors. For example, at the time the mandate was issued, the governor argued that pharmacy owners and pharmacists should “find another profession” if their religious and moral convictions would not allow them to comply with the mandate, threatening them with significant penalties ranging from prosecution, to steep fines, to loss of professional licenses.

In 2011, after two pharmacists filed suit, a trial court enjoined the rule, because it violated several laws, including the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

At trial, the state produced no evidence that a religious objection to stocking or dispensing the abortion-inducing drugs had prevented even a single person from gaining access to them.

The government also admitted that pharmacies were permitted to refuse to sell drugs for a host of “common sense business reasons” but not for religious ones. Taking these factors together, the court concluded that the mandate was targeted at the religious objectors. Despite this resounding loss, the state appealed the trial court’s decision to the Illinois Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision, noting that Illinois’s Health Care Rights of Conscience Act “prohibits discrimination in licensing” against a person or business that cannot provide health care services because of a religious objection.

Illinois is not the only state in which government officials have deliberately targeted religious objectors. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which successfully defended the small business owners in Morr-Fitz, is litigating a similar case in Washington State—Stormans v. Selecky.

In Stormans, the State Board of Pharmacy voted in favor of a regulation allowing pharmacists with religious objections to refrain from dispensing Plan B and refer patients to nearby suppliers. When Governor Christine Gregoire (D) learned of the protection, she publicly threatened to fire the board’s members, lobbied them to change the rule, replaced several members, and participated in a boycott of a family-owned pharmacy protected by the rule. Then the State’s Human Rights Commission suggested that board members could be held personally liable under gender discrimination laws if they supported the regulation.

The board buckled under this extreme pressure and adopted regulations requiring pharmacies to stock and dispense Plan B with no protection for the consciences of religious objectors. The regulations made it illegal to refer patients to neighboring pharmacies for reasons of conscience, even though patients could be referred elsewhere for a wide variety of business, economic, or convenience reasons.

As in Illinois, there is no evidence that anyone in Washington has ever been unable to obtain Plan B due to religious objections to dispensing it.

A federal judge struck down the regulation, and the case is on appeal in the Ninth Circuit.

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The Illinois and Washington pharmacists’ experiences show not just a lack of regard for religious freedom, but outright intolerance by those exercising the levers of state power against individuals trying to live out their faith in their day-to-day lives. Pharmacists should not be forced to choose between their livelihoods and their religious beliefs. The cases illustrate the danger to religious freedom posed by the growth and reach of the regulatory state at every level.

Reprinted with permission from the Heritage Foundation.

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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A protester at New York's Foley Square on Feb. 26, 2011 opposes funding cuts to Planned Parenthood in the GOP's budget. Dave Bledsoe / Flickr
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Teacher fired for protesting Planned Parenthood files $390K lawsuit

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By Kirsten Anderson

A pro-life teacher who was fired from his job at a Portland high school after protesting Planned Parenthood is now suing the school district for wrongful termination.

Bill Diss, who worked for eleven years as a math teacher at Benson High School, was escorted off campus in 2013 by a police officer and told not to return.  The school board later voted to fire him.  Diss alleges he was targeted by pro-abortion administrators for his pro-life views, and that his firing was the culmination of six years of progressively increasing tension over the matter.

After five years of positive reviews by administrators, Diss’ relationship with school officials began to deteriorate in 2007, when he protested the proposed opening of a Planned Parenthood headquarters in Portland.  Although the protests happened on his own time, away from school grounds, administrators confronted him after seeing him on television speaking out against the pro-abortion group.

“As the attention mounted, [Diss] was summoned for questioning by Benson High School administrators,” the lawsuit reads. “He was interrogated about his activities by the principal and by an attorney for the District. The activities in question occurred on his own time, not at school, nonetheless he was specifically instructed not to mention the fact that he was a teacher or where he worked when making public statements.”

Five years later, things took a turn for the worse when school officials tried to force Diss to allow Planned Parenthood to make a presentation to his class.  In late 2012, presenters with the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) – a teen pregnancy prevention program run by Planned Parenthood and funded by a federal government grant – showed up at Diss’ classroom unannounced to give a recruitment pitch to students.  No one had told Diss they were coming, so he followed district policy and requested identification.

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When the presenters identified themselves as employees of Planned Parenthood, Diss was surprised and upset. At first, he refused them access, but Principal Carol Campbell demanded they be let in, and told him that the organization would be visiting his classroom throughout the year. Diss, a Roman Catholic, felt that he could not in good conscience participate in these presentations, during which students would discuss their sexual activities and methods of contraception.  He asked to be excused, but Campbell denied his request and told him he had to stay and “facilitate [Planned Parenthood’s] interactions with students,” according to the suit.

“Because (Diss) expressed his opposition to the activities of Planned Parenthood at Benson High School, he became a target of” the administration, the suit reads. “They launched a full-scale assault on the plaintiff as a teacher. He was observed and evaluated on the most minute aspects of his teaching.”  He was ordered to stop drilling deficient students on their multiplication tables and factors, calling it “repetitive,” and one administrator demanded he stop using the words “God Bless” in all of his communications with staff, students and parents.

He was later accused of “unprofessional, intimidating and/or harassing behavior” by school officials over comments students said he made in opposition to Planned Parenthood, including his assertion that “they kill over a million babies every three years.” It was this allegation that district officials would ultimately use to justify his firing.

Diss is seeking $90,000 in backpay and benefits, and an additional $300,000 for emotional distress.  He is being represented by attorney Rebekah Millard of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

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Gabriele Kuby

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Genderism – a new ideology destroying the family

Gabriele Kuby
By Gabriele Kuby

Editor’s Note: The following address by German author and social commentator Gabriele Kuby was delivered earlier this month in Moscow at the International Forum on Large Families and the Future of Humanity.

We are witnessing an astonishing historical shift.

More than a hundred years ago, Marxism declared the relationship of man and woman in monogamous marriage as “the first class antagonism” in history. This “class-conflict” had to be overcome by destroying marriage and the family. So in 1917, Alexandra Kollontai, the first woman commissar of the Bolshevik Central Committee, set out to put this into practise through the exercise of revolutionary power:

  1. A law for the dissolution of marriage
  2. Legalization of abortion
  3. Sexual freedom for youth
  4. Legalization of homosexuality
  5. Integration of women into the production process, and
  6. Bringing up children in collective state institutions.

But even Lenin soon realized that this was creating social chaos. And he repealed some of these revolutionary measures.

Yet the same agenda eventually migrated to the West. It had its breakthrough with the student rebellion of the 1960s, which swept through European countries with slogans like these:

Battle the bourgeois nuclear family!

If you sleep with the same one twice, you’re a slave of bourgeois vice!

Make love not war!

This movement was fuelled by Marxist philosophers, particularly of the Frankfurt School in Germany. In their view, sexuality was to be liberated from restrictive morality – even from the taboo of incest. Sex between children, as well as sex with children, was to be allowed in order to create a “society without oppression”.

During the 1970s, marriage laws and sexual criminal laws were revised in Western countries. Pornography, abortion, and homosexuality – in this sequence – were legalized, and obligatory sexual education was introduced in schools. And during the last decade, the collectivization of bringing up small children – formerly seen as a communist aberration – has been imposed on families by EU measures. This destroys the very source of human love, which is the relationship between mother and child.

Ironically, the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries were, so to speak, “protected” by communist dictatorship from the implementation of these ideas, which had originated in Marxist ideology.

Today things have shifted even further: The radical feminist movement and the homosexual movement merged and gave birth to the gender ideology. One of its trailblazers is the philosopher Judith Butler, a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation and a proclaimed lesbian, who in 1990 published the book, Gender Trouble – Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Gender theory proclaims that our “social gender” is independent of our biological sex, so that we can “choose” whether we want to be a man or a woman.

At the policy level, this ideology becomes “Gender Mainstreaming,” which promotes:

  • Subversion of the identity of man and woman by destroying “gender-stereotypes” – beginning in kindergarten; and
  • Deregulation of normative standards of sexuality: Any kind of sexual practice – be it lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender (LGBT) – has to be accepted by society as equivalent to heterosexuality. And this must be taught to children in school.

It has taken only 20 years for gender theory to become the ruling ideology of the West. At most universities, the new field of “gender studies” has been firmly established. In my native Germany, we have almost 200 women professors in that new field of so-called “science” – which really is nothing more than the ideological agenda of radical feminism and the homosexual movement combined. And students now must adhere to this ideology – just as their predecessors had to adhere to Marxist ideology under communism.

What Alexandra Kollontai could not achieve under a communist dictatorship has now become the global policy of the United Nations and the European Union. But the underlying agenda is disguised with words that abuse the great values of Christian culture: freedom, justice, tolerance, and human rights.

Central and Eastern European nations have now begun to realize that membership in the European Union has its costs. It not only brings them new economic possibilities but also the enforced destruction of their own value system – which, for many centuries, has served as the foundation of marriage and family.

In pursuit of their agenda, the UN and the EU work with an international network of political stakeholders, billionaire foundations, the mainstream media, and global NGOs like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and ILGA, the homosexual umbrella organization. They seek to impose the feminist and homosexual agenda on every nation around the world through the policy of gender mainstreaming and LGBT-rights.

Dear friends, we are indeed facing a global ‘anthropological revolution’, as Pope Benedict XVI termed it – one which attacks the very roots of human existence. This revolution has five political cornerstones:

  1. Elimination of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Deprivation of the material basis of the family
  3. Legalization of abortion
  4. Homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and artificial child production
  5. Sexualization of children through obligatory comprehensive sexual education.

All this requires a response. In fact, faced with the demographic crisis in the West, and the moral and social breakdown of the family, we need a global movement that creates conditions under which the deepest longings of the human heart can be fulfilled. Such a movement should include:

  1. Re-awakening to the sanctity of fatherhood and motherhood
  2. Provision of the material basis of the family
  3. Protection of life – from conception to natural death
  4. Legally defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman
  5. Education of children and youth for marriage and family

As far as I can see, Russia is today the only country where there may be the possibility for church and state to rebuild the foundations of the family.

This International Forum could have a significant role in the global battle for a culture of life and the defence of marriage and family. May our political leaders be guided by wisdom and a commitment to the common good of humanity in the present political situation.

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