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Evangelical giant Wheaton College joins Catholic University’s case against the HHS mandate

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On the heels of the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision, Wheaton College of Illinois, a leading evangelical liberal arts institution, filed a lawsuit today alongside The Catholic University of America in the D.C. District Court opposing the Health and Human Services “Preventative Services” mandate, which forces both institutions to violate their deeply held religious beliefs or pay severe fines, according to a statement from The Becket Fund.

This alliance, according to The Becket Fund, marks the first-ever partnership between Catholic and evangelical institutions to oppose the same regulation in the same court. (Now, that’s ecumenism!)

“As the president of the national university of the Catholic Church, I am happy to express solidarity with our evangelical brothers and sisters from Wheaton College as they challenge the HHS mandate,” said CUA President John Garvey in a statement on Wheaton’s website. “Wheaton’s lawsuit is another sign of how troubling many people of faith find the government’s efforts to chip away at our first freedom.”

“Wheaton College and other distinctively Christian institutions are faced with a clear and present threat to our religious liberty,” said Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken. “Our first president, the abolitionist Jonathan Blanchard, believed it was imperative to act in defense of freedom. In bringing this suit, we act in defense of freedom again.”

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The lawsuit, available at The Becket Fund’s website, states:

Wheaton’s religious beliefs forbid it from participating in, providing access to, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting abortion. Wheaton is among the many American religious organizations that hold these beliefs.

With full knowledge of these beliefs, the government issued an administrative rule (“the Mandate”) that runs roughshod over Wheaton’s religious beliefs, and the beliefs of millions of other Americans, by forcing it to provide health insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs and related education and counseling.

The government’s Mandate unconstitutionally coerces Wheaton to violate its deeply-held religious beliefs under threat of heavy fines and penalties. The Mandate also forces Wheaton to facilitate government-dictated speech that is incompatible with its own speech and religious teachings. Having to pay a penalty to the taxing authorities for the privilege of practicing one’s religion or controlling one’s own speech is un-American, unprecedented, and flagrantly unconstitutional.

Dr. Ryken said the alliance “ought to be a sign to all Americans that something really significant in terms of religious liberty is at stake.”

“Some observers will find it somewhat surprising that we’re filing this suit alongside the Catholic University of America,” said Dr. Philip Graham Ryken, President of Wheaton College, in a conference call with the media which The Cardinal Newman Society took part in. “We have a respect for Roman Catholic institutions and in this case we recognize we have common cause with the Catholic University of America and other Catholic institutions in defending religious liberty. We’re in effect co-belligerents in this fight against government action.”

John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, has long been a leader in the fight for religious liberty. He said this alliance shows “this is not a fight over contraception.”

“We are both concerned about religious freedom,” he said.

This mandate is not just a Catholic issue—it threatens people of all faiths,” said Kyle Duncan, General Counsel, The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.  “Wheaton’s historic decision to join the fight alongside a Catholic institution shows the broad consensus that the mandate endangers everyone’s religious liberty.”

Ryken pointed out that Wheaton,a Protestant institution, does not have an issue with contraceptives but does take a “clear pro-life position” and said that providing coverage of abortifacients would go against their religious beliefs. “We’re very clear on the sanctity of life,” he said.

He said that the federal government’s providing an exemption for churches but not other religious institutions “creates two classes of religious institutions -those who have full protection for their religious freedom and those who don’t.”

If the evangelical college simply refused to provide coverage for abortifacients it would cost them $1.4 million in fines per annually for faculty and staff alone, according to Ryken.

CUA originally filed their lawsuit in May. Ryken said Wheaton was waiting until the Supreme Court made their decision on the Affordable Care Act because that decision could have negated the need for a lawsuit. Garvey added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see other evangelical institutions file suit in the near future.

Ryken and Garvey wrote a joint editorial in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, pointing out that the Catholic and evangelical institutions “do not agree on all points about HHS’s mandated services.” But “the list of required services includes ‘morning after’ and ‘week after’ pills that claim the life of an unborn child within days of its conception.”

Wheaton and many other evangelical colleges and universities strongly believe in the sanctity of human life.

“We must cherish life, not destroy it. This belief is shared by both campus communities,” write Garvey and Ryken. “The Catholic Church’s unqualified defense of the unborn is too well known to need restatement. Wheaton’s commitment is equally firm.”

The two argue that no matter what others might believe about the morality or immorality of abortion, religious people and institutions should be allowed the freedom to act on their religious principles.

Many Americans disagree with our shared belief in the immorality of abortion. That is their right. But there should be no dispute about a second point we hold in common: Religious schools like Wheaton College and Catholic University should have the freedom—guaranteed by the United States Constitution—to carry out our mission in a way that is consistent with our religious principles.

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation,” Justice Robert Jackson wrote in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), “it is that no official . . . can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” It is not just churches that have these religious rights, but all Americans who gather in voluntary association for distinctively religious purposes, such as Christian education.

The danger in ignoring Justice Jackson’s principle is not limited to institutions like Wheaton College and Catholic University. The real danger is to our republic.

The two college presidents repeatedly point to a document signed twenty years ago by Charles Colson, the evangelical founder of Prison Fellowship, and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the Catholic editor of First Things, entitled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together.”

They quote the document which states, “we contend together for religious freedom…In their relationship to God, persons have a dignity and responsibility that transcends, and thereby limits, the authority of the state and of every other merely human institution.”

Recent efforts by the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the Affordable Care Act have brought evangelicals and Catholics together to defend that freedom, they say.

In conclusion, they say, “A government that fails to heed the cries of its religious institutions undermines the supports of civil virtue and puts in jeopardy our constitutional order.”

The pair point out that Wheaton’s first president, Jonathan Blanchard the abolitionist, was so horrified by slavery that he felt a religious imperative to act in defense of freedom. “A command against my conscience,” said Blanchard, “I would not obey.”

You can read the entire piece at the Wall Street Journal.

This article originally appeared on Campus Notes, the blog of the Cardinal Newman Society, and is reprinted with permission.

 



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‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’

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An ultrasound of the five different compartments, each with its own baby, inside Kim's womb.

AUSTRALIA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- A 26-year-old Australian mom has given birth to five healthy babies, all conceived naturally, after refusing the doctor’s advice that she must abort three of them in order to give the remaining two a better chance at life. 

“After my initial ultrasound I was told I could consider the selection method to give 2 babies the best chance in life,” wrote mom Kim Tucci in a Facebook post last September. 

“I watched a YouTube video on the procedure and I cried. I could never do that! Was I selfish for not giving two the chance of 100% survival? All I knew is that I already love them and that every heart beat I heard I connect with them more. For me life starts when a heart starts beating and all I know for sure is that I will do whatever it takes to bring them into this world healthy,” she wrote. 

Last Thursday Kim and her husband Vaughn welcomed the five new members into their family — one boy and four girls —increasing the number of their children from 3 to 8. The babies were born at 30 weeks, 10 weeks early, due to insufficient space in Kim’s womb. They weighed on average about 2.5 pounds. 

The quintuplets’ story began last March, after Kim and Vaughn had been trying for six months to conceive just one more child for their family. Due to health complications, Kim wondered if she would ever become a mother again. 

After what she thought was an extra long cycle, she decided to take a pregnancy test. 

“I was feeling tired and a little nauseated and thought I would take a pregnancy test just to get the ‘what if’ out of my head. To my shock and utter excitement it was positive,” she wrote on a Facebook post.

The parents got the shock of their lives when doctors confirmed in an ultrasound examination that there was not one baby, but five. 

“After a long wait for the ultrasound we finally went in. The sonographer told me there were multiple gestational sacks, but she could only see a heart beat in two. I was so excited! Twins!”

“I was moved to another machine for a clearer view and had the head doctor come in and double check the findings. She started to count, one, two, three, four, five. Did i hear that correctly? Five? My legs start to shake uncontrollably and all i can do is laugh. The sonographer then told me the term for five is ‘quintuplets,’” Kim wrote.

Even though Kim began to feel stretched to the limit with all those human lives growing inside her, she chose to focus on her babies, and not herself, referring to them as “my five little miracles.” 

“It's getting harder as each day passes to push through the pain, every part of my body aches and sleeping is becoming very painful. No amount of pillows are helping support my back and belly. Sometimes I get so upset that I just want to throw my hands up and give in.”

“Sometimes my pelvis becomes so stiff I can barely walk and my hips feel like they are grinding away constantly. I'm finding it hard to eat as I basically have no room left in my stomach, and the way it is positioned it's pushed all the way back with the babies leaning against it.” 

“My skin on my belly is so stretched its painful and hot to touch. It literally feels like I have hives! No amount of cream helps relieve the discomfort. I have a lot of stretch marks now. Dealing with such a huge change in my body is hard.” 

“Is it all worth it? Yes!!!! I will keep pushing through,” she wrote in one Facebook post days before the babies were born. 

The newborns' names are Keith, Ali, Penelope, Tiffany, and Beatrix. They were born at King Edward Memorial Hospital in Subiaco, Western Australia. Mother and babies are reported to be doing well. 



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UN rights chief tells Catholic countries to legalize abortion over Zika virus: bishops and cardinal react

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GENEVA, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) -- The United Nations, following the lead of international abortion activists, is now urging Latin American countries hit by the mosquito-borne Zika virus to lift restrictions on abortion for pregnant women who have contacted the virus and whose pre-born children may be at risk for birth defects, including having smaller than normal heads. 

The UN human rights office said today that it is not enough for South American countries to urge women to postpone pregnancy without also offering them abortion as a final solution. 

“How can they ask these women not to become pregnant, but not offer… the possibility to stop their pregnancies?” UN spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly told reporters. 

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that governments should make available contraception and abortion services.

“Laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice,” he said.

But Brazil’s bishops strongly asserted yesterday that efforts should be made to eradicate the virus, not the people who may be infected by it. 

The disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion,” they said in a statement, adding that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

Honduras Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga has also come out strongly against the notion of “therapeutic abortions” as a response to the problem. Unlike Brazil where abortion is legal in the case of rape or health of the mother, abortion remains entirely illegal in Honduras.

“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in a homily at a February 3 Mass in Suyap. “Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist. Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives,” he said. 

While the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international public health emergency February 1 on account of concerns over the virus, critics have pointed out, however, that not one death as resulted from the virus. Even on WHO’s own website the virus is described in mild terms. 

“It causes mild fever and rash. Other symptoms include muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis. Zika virus disease is usually mild, with symptoms lasting only a few days,” the website states. “To date, there have been no reported deaths associated with Zika virus,” it added. 

Critics suspect that the crisis is being manipulated to advance an anti-human agenda on the pre-born. 

“Is Zika, actually, a hideous virus that threatens to spread uncontrollably across the world creating an army of disabled children with tiny heads and low IQ’s? Or might this be a willful misinterpretation of the scarce data to manipulate public opinion and legislatures?” wrote pro-life critic Mei-Li Garcia earlier this week.

“It becomes very clear that the publicity surrounding this story has a very little to do with medicine and a lot to do with a convenient crisis that is being used by those pushing for the legalization of abortion around the world,” she wrote.



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Hillary’s litmus test for Supreme Court picks: They must ‘preserve Roe v. Wade’

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DERRY, NH, February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - Hillary Clinton has a litmus test for Supreme Court nominees - several, in fact. At a Democratic event on Wednesday, Clinton unveiled her criteria in selecting a judge for the nation's highest court.

“I do have a litmus test, I have a bunch of litmus tests," she said.

"We’ve got to make sure to preserve Roe v. Wade, not let it be nibbled away or repealed,” she said.

There have been over 58,000,000 abortions since the 1973 court ruling legalizing abortion in all 50 states, according to National Right to Life.

That echoes her recent call to arms speech before Planned Parenthood last month, when she stated that taxpayers must fund abortion-on-demand in order to uphold the "right" of choice.

“We have to preserve marriage equality,” Clinton said, referring to last summer's Obergefell v. Hodges case, a 5-4 ruling that redefined marriage nationwide. “We have to go further to end discrimination against the LGBT community."

Her views differentiate her from the Republican front runners. Ted Cruz has called the court's marriage ruling "fundamentally illegitimate," and Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday this week that he would "be very strong on putting certain judges on the bench that I think maybe could change things." Marco Rubio has said he won't "concede" the issue to the one-vote majority.

All Republican presidential hopefuls say they are pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.

Her husband, Bill Clinton, raised the makeup of the Supreme Court early last month in New Hampshire, saying it receives "almost no attention" as a campaign issue.

On Wednesday, Hillary said "the next president could get as many as three appointments. It’s one of the many reasons why we can’t turn the White House over to the Republicans again.”

Clinton said her judicial appointees must also reverse the Citizens United ruling on campaign finance and oppose a recent decision striking down a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, justices struck down Section 4(b) of the act, which said that certain states and jurisdictions had to obtain permission from the federal government before changing their voting laws.

At one time, most politicians frowned upon any "litmus test" for judicial nominees, emphasizing the independence of the third branch of government. "I don't believe in litmus tests," Jeb Bush told Chuck Todd last November.

But with the rise of an activist judiciary in the middle of the 20th century, constitutionalists have sought to rein in the power of the bench.



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