Ben Johnson

Amendment to protect religious liberty under Obama mandate fails in U.S. Senate 51-48

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
Image

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 1, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Senate this morning voted down an amendment that would allow employers to opt out of paying for health care coverage of procedures that violate their religious beliefs.

The amendment, offered by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, rolled back Barack Obama’s invasive Health and Human Services mandate that employers insure contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs with no co-pay. While the health care reform law exempts churches, it would force religious institutions such as hospitals and universities to underwrite products that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

The Blunt Amendment would not compel an employer to fund any procedure to which it had a “moral objection.” It failed 51-48.

“Today, 51 senators, led by Sen. Harry Reid, sacrificed the Constitutional right of religious liberty on the altar of the Obama administration’s radical big-government agenda,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement e-mailed to LifeSiteNews.com. “They turned a deaf ear to the very real religious and moral objections of millions of Americans and the First Amendment rights of all.”

Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told LifeSiteNews.com he was “outraged” by the vote. “Make no mistake, the Senate vote was not about contraception but about the right of people of faith to be able to live out the values of their faith free from government coercion.”

Three Democrats – Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and retiring Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska – voted for the measure.  Casey and Manchin face tough re-election battles in 2012.

Olympia Snowe, a retiring Republican from Maine, voted against it. “With respect to the Blunt amendment, I think it’s much broader than I could support,” Snowe told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday.

Blunt’s motion offered broader protections than Sen. Marco Rubio’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012,” extending conscience rights to private employers. Sen. Rubio’s legislation would protect only religious institutions. Snowe said she supports Rubio’s bill.

Blunt’s motion was heavily supported by the National Right to Life Committee, the Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, and other pro-life organizations.

“Support from Republican Senators ranging from pro-life Senator Kelly Ayotte to pro-abortion Senator Susan Collins showed that this is not about women’s health but about whether the government can violate religious liberties,” Perkins told LifeSiteNews.

Senate Democrats savaged the bill and its supporters.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, said,  “The Republicans want to take us forward to the dark ages again…when women were property that you could easily control, even trade if you wanted to. It’s appalling we are having this debate in the 21st century.”

Blunt wrote in a press release in February that the measure, which was offered as an amendment to a federal highway bill, simply said “health care providers don’t have to follow that mandate if it violates their faith principles. This is about the First Amendment.”

But Barbara Boxer of California – one of the most outspoken advocates of the HHS mandate, told MSNBC’s viewers, “They’re just radical and they’re going after women’s health, and that’s the truth.” Boxer called this measure “a radical amendment” that ”would not only take away the ability of women to get contraception through their insurance but it would threaten every single essential healthcare service, every single preventive healthcare service, if your employer or your insurance company had a moral objection.”

This narrow defeat is no time to back down on religious freedom, Perkins told LifeSiteNews.com. “The president and Congress need to wake up and realize that they have run into an immovable wall of principle that religious liberties are still in fact fundamental rights in this country,” he said. “No political machinations they attempt will surmount the unshakeable religious and moral convictions of those of us opposing this government mandate.”

Dr. Land also promised to fight on. “We will continue to press this battle for freedom to the very end. We call on all people who love liberty to join us in this must-win struggle against government tyranny.”

You can view the final roll call vote here.


Advertisement
Featured Image
Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent

,

Abortion group targets pro-life doctors, nurses with new website: New Zealand

Michelle Kaufman, New Zealand Correspondent
By Michelle Kaufman

Pro-life health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres in New Zealand are the target of a new website designed to intimidate those who choose not to refer for abortion or prescribe contraception.

The website, My Decision, is created by the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ). 

The site lists health practitioners and crisis pregnancy centres which they believe women should avoid.  The incomplete list includes the names of individuals or organisations, the region and town, and whether they are a doctor, nurse or other provider. 

Women are asked to submit their stories of “hostile or unhelpful health professionals.”  The stories are non-identifying and can be edited for length or clarity.  At the time of writing only two stories had been posted.

In an earlier blog post, ALRANZ mentioned that the new website, which was still under construction at the time, is “aimed at shining the light on ‘conscientious objectors’… who deny people the reproductive healthcare they want or need.”

Right to Life NZ says they believe the site is “denigrating the good name and reputations of health professionals who believe that abortion is a harmful choice.”

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

Under New Zealand law, health practitioners can object to providing reproductive health services according to their conscience.  However, there is one caveat – they “must inform the person who requests the service that he or she can obtain the service from another health practitioner or from a family planning clinic.”

 “Sonscientious objection is a fundamental right and one that must be preserved if we are to continue to live in a free and civil society,” said Chris O’Brien, Vice President of Right to Life NZ. “We risk tyranny if this right is taken away.”

“There are very good doctors that appear on that website” said Dame Colleen Bayer, whose Dunedin Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centre is also named.  “These doctors speak truthfully and have real care and concern for their patients.  Women do themselves a disservice to discount them based on this information.”

The resource section on the My Decision website links to ALRANZ, Family Planning (an affiliate of International Planned Parenthood Federation and an abortion provider), and the website Abortion Services in New Zealand. 

The Abortion Services website is sponsored by ISTAR Ltd, a registered Charitable Trust which is the sole importer of mifepristone into New Zealand.  ISTAR also provides Manual Vacuum Aspiration equipment for early surgical abortions.

ALRANZ, was instrumental in the writing of the Greens abortion policy, which was unveiled earlier this year.  That policy aims to take abortion out of the Crimes Act making it more accessible.  The policy also targets health professionals who may conscientiously object to ensure they refer patients on to a “neutral practitioner”.

More information about freedom of conscience in healthcare 


Advertisement
Featured Image
The government is proposing allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.
Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

Northern Ireland considers allowing killing disabled unborn babies: pro-lifers condemn

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group, Precious Life, has condemned this week's announcement by Justice Minister David Ford that a consultation on changing the abortion law will be "ready by autumn." The government is considering allowing the killing of pre-born babies suspected of being disabled and those conceived through rape or incest.

“Abortion is a serious criminal offence in Northern Ireland,” said the director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth. “The law here protects unborn babies, and David Ford as Minister for Justice must ensure that all children are legally protected."

Last December, Ford revealed he would be undertaking a consultation to consider changes to the law after he heard the stories of two women, who complained that they had not been allowed to abort their babies who had been diagnosed with anencephaly. Instead, they said, they had traveled to Britain for abortions.

Abortion was refused under Northern Ireland’s laws because the diagnosis of anencephaly for the child poses no medical threat to the mother.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

On Monday Ford told the BBC that the Department of Justice would bring forward its consultation paper on changing Northern Ireland's abortion laws by the fall.

However, Smyth warned that “the core ethical principle which must underpin this discussion is that every child deserves the right to life regardless of how short their life may be, and regardless of the circumstances of their conception."

She vowed that Precious Life will launch a public campaign in support of the life of all unborn babies.

“We all feel enormous sympathy for parents in these traumatic and distressing cases," Precious Life stressed in a statement. "But parents in these difficult situations deserve much more than our sympathy – they need a professional support system in place, which will provide them with help, support and resources.

"Precious Life are resolved to work towards a solution that loves and protects both mother and baby. Once again we call on the Health Minister to immediately establish perinatal hospice services for parents who have received a poor or difficult prenatal diagnosis for their baby,” said Smyth.

 

Contact:

Justice Minister David Ford
Department of Justice
Stormont Estate
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT4 3SG
Phone:(028) 9076 3000
Email: via website (http://www.dojni.gov.uk/contact-us.htm)


Advertisement
Featured Image
80% of parents who have an unborn child with spina bifida choose abortion. But Chad Judice (pictured with Eli) knows that life is worth it.
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

Abortion? No way. Dad says son with spina bifida is a ‘gift’ to the family.

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

What is the most pro-life, pro-God influence in your life? According to Catholic author and speaker Chad Judice, his five-year old, disabled son has been a tremendous source of happiness and faith for even the hardest of hearts.

In an op-ed published in The New York Post, Judice writes that when he and his wife found out their unborn son Elijah had spina bifida, they were offered the option of abortion. While they chose life, it didn't stop them from fearing the worst for their careers, eldest child, and Eli.

"That evening...Ashley cried as she read to me from the literature we’d been given," writes Judice. "It said 80 percent of parents who receive a spina bifida diagnosis choose abortion."

"And it told us that our son might have learning disabilities and be paralyzed from the waist down, unable to ever walk."

According to WemMD.com, the two most common forms of spina bifida have few, if any effects, on those who have them. However, the most rare and most aggressive form of the disability can result in significant problems for life:

  • Little or no feeling in their legs, feet, or arms, so they may not be able to move those parts of the body.
  • Bladder or bowel problems, such as leaking urine or having a hard time passing stools.
  • Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus). Even when it is treated, this may cause seizures, learning problems, or vision problems.
  • A curve in their spine, such as scoliosis.

Eli's form of spina bifida was severe, but -- as it turned out -- manageable, writes Judice. Despite surgeries and "medical challenges," he was out of the hospital within thirty days, though seizures and surgeries would continue to challenge the family. At five-and-a-half, he is entering kindergarten, learning to walk with modern technology, and "his intelligence is at or above average, and he's very talkative."

But perhaps the greatest miracle of all, Judice says, is the effect Eli has had on those who are outside of the family. His story has helped "some pregnant mothers...to reject abortion," and "rekindle the dormant faith of some...drawing them into a life with more room for God and family."

One of those rekindled Christians was a man who, after years in prison, prayed for Eli "as he recited The Lord's Prayer." According to Judice, "it was the first time he’d prayed in 30 years."

Since Eli's birth, Judice has written two books about his son and their family. "Waiting for Eli: A Father's Journey from Fear to Faith" was the first, and has received praise from Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. According to Pavone, it is "an inspiring story of faith, hope, love, and the power of prayer."

"The world judges the value of human life by physical perfection, but God sees things differently. To Him, we are perfectly lovable in our imperfection. Uplifting in its reverence for human life in its most fragile stages, WAITING FOR ELI will encourage pro-life activists everywhere, from the most seasoned to the newly initiated."

Also unstinting in praise was the Chair of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Archbishop Daniel Cardinal Dinardo, who writes for Judice's website that the book "chronicles [Judice's] spiritual journey from fear of one’s personal limitations to self-abandonment to the divine mercy of God’s providence."

The second book, "Eli's Reach: On the Value of Human Life and the Power of Prayer," received the "Best Book by Small Publisher" award in 2013 by the Catholic Press Association.

"I think of Eli as God’s special gift to my family," Judice wrote in the Post. "And as I share about him, Eli’s story softens hearts and brings people to a greater appreciation of the beauty and sacredness of life."


Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook