Supreme Court hears challenge to HHS mandate, decision expected mid-summer
Editor's Note: This article originally stated incorrectly that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg claimed the Affordable Care Act "passed overwhelmingly," with bipartisan support. Ginsburg was actually addressing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed by President Bill Clinton. The Justice's statement can be seen on Page 11 of this transcript of the Court arguments last Tuesday on the HHS Mandate. Context to her statement can be seen in a long discussion leading up to her comment.
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. Supreme Court heard its first much-anticipated challenge to the Obama administration's controversial HHS mandate Tuesday. While lawyers argued inside the Supreme Court about how religious liberty applies for business owners, hundreds of pro-life and pro-abortion activists stood toe-to-toe in the snow outside.
Today was the day of reckoning for the 2012 mandate, which requires coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives. On the one side was the Obama administration. On the other, lawyers representing the owners of corporations Hobby Lobby and Costenoga Wood Specialties.
According to Concerned Women for America (CWA) Communications Director Alison Howard, “it was enlightening to see how many young people turned out for this, and very revealing to see how many young people saw this as a life and liberty issue.”
According to The Daily Caller Senior Editor Matt Lewis, Becket Fund counsel Joshua Hawley was cautiously optimistic that the Fund's client, Hobby Lobby, would get favorable treatment. “Discussion in the courtroom focused on — does the government have another means of delivering to women the contraceptives?” Hawley said “the government has ample means to accommodate,” including through Title X subsidies.
Minutes after ending her lunch with the Green and Hahn families – who own Hobby Lobby and Costenoga, respectively – CWA President Penny Nance told LifeSiteNews that while the number of rally attendees by opponents and supporters of the mandate were about the same size, the makeup of the crowds were very different.
Nance said the “leftists” on the pro-mandate side, which included homosexual activists, had gone “so far as to hire” rally attendees in the past, whereas pro-life and pro-freedom attendees have “to take time off of work,” get babysitters, and make other accommodations.
Nance said the Greens and Hahns are “very hopeful,” and “they definitely feel loved and supported” by rally attendees “and hundreds of thousands who are supporting them in prayer across the country.”
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“This is not about contraception,” says Nance. “The Green family objected to four out of sixteen required drugs – life-ending drugs. This is not about birth control. This is about whether a company can be required to provide for life-ending drugs, violating their religious freedom.”
She also pointed to what she claims is a fallacy in the administration's argument – that women need the mandate. “Women can do what they've always done: Use their own money to purchase products,” says Nance. “What about the freedom of women business owners? One-third of the plaintiffs that have sued against the mandate have been women-owned and/or women-operated. What about the rights of those women?”
While pro-life and Tea Party organizations joined forces, they were not alone. Members of Congress joined the rally, both in person – as was the case with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX – and yesterday in the House of Representatives.
Nearly 20 Republican members of Congress spoke on the House floor last evening in favor of religious freedom. One, Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, asked Chief Justice Roberts “to consider his core convictions” as a Catholic, and said “what's at stake here” is “the very state of our Constitution.”
According to an unofficial transcript, the plaintiffs initially took a lot of pressure from the Court's three female justices, especially Justices Kagan and Ginsburg.
During the 90-minute arguments, Chief Justice Roberts asked the government's lawyer why corporations can be involved in lawsuits involving race. The lawyer, DOJ Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, said he believed race was a different issue than the one the Court was examining. Justice Kennedy, seen by many as potentially the critical fifth vote on the Court, pressured Verrilli as to why “a whole class of corporations” have been exempted from the mandate, but some are not to be exempted.
In a public statement, Hobby Lobby co-founder Barbara Green said that her family “believe[s] that no American should lose their religious freedom just because they open a family business.” She said they “are thankful that the Supreme Court has heard our case, and we prayerfully await the justices' decision.”
The Court's decision is expected by mid-summer.
‘Little miracles’: Mom gives birth to naturally-conceived quintuplets after refusing ‘selective reduction’
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
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’
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.
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.