The New York Times and many others are contributing to the false notion that the recent Supreme Court decision, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc allows businesses to ban birth control. In the spirit of truth, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby is about abortion-causing drugs and devices NOT contraception. To quote page two of the court’s official opinion, “The owners of the businesses have religious objections to abortion, and according to their religious beliefs the four contraceptive methods at issue are abortifacients. If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply they will pay a very heavy price . . . If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.” You can read the high court’s opinion in full here.
Hobby Lobby did not say that providing no cost contraception to employees was against their religious convictions. They said providing abortion-causing drugs and devices violate them. Of the 20 FDA approved contraceptives they have no problem with 16 of them because they have not been proven to end the life of a child. It is important to note that the court recognized along with Health and Human Services that the four ‘contraceptives’ in question in fact can and do end the life of an embryo. The court states on page 32, “They [the business owners] therefore object on religious grounds to providing health insurance that covers methods of birth control that, as HHS acknowledges may result in the destruction of an embryo.” Since the owners of Hobby Lobby have a deeply held religious conviction that all human life is valuable and begins at conception they only had a problem with those drugs (e.g. Plan B, Ella) and devices (e.g. IUDs) that end a newly ‘conceived’ life.
Again, this case is not about businesses blocking birth control it is about ham handed bureaucracy forcing companies to violate their deeply held convictions just so a government can implement a political abortion agenda. For expert interpretations see responses by Princeton Law professor Robert George and the Director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom at the Christian Legal Society, Kim Colby.
A Brief Pause Before Uncorking the Champagne
For all the hoopla out there on the pro-life side touting this decision as a great victory we should be cautious. It should be noted that this decision is monumental if not only for the fact that this is the first time in the history of the abortion problem that it has been directly connected to individual religious liberty. That is, the moral cost of access to health insurance is to pay for everybody’s abortion. To that point there are several sobering factors to consider in this decision before we celebrate the ‘victory.’
1000 Pro-Lifers Rally at Highland Bowl
Rochester, NY— Over a 1,000 pro-life people from the Rochester area, representing scores of churches from both Protestant and Catholic traditions are expected to converge on the Highland Bowl this Saturday May 3rd at 9 A.M. The purpose of their gathering is to celebrate the dignity of women and the personhood of preborn boys and girls. Over the last 15 years thousands have gathered for the annual Walk for Life, the largest benefit Walk of its find in New York. It is hosted and promoted by local medical pregnancy care provider, CompassCare.
In the shadow of Governor Cuomo’s recent re-commitment to abortion expansion, CompassCare’s Walk for Life is expecting record turn-out. The Walk has always represented the largest ecumenical display of unity in Rochester every year. CompassCare is calling people everywhere to “Take up the cause” (Isaiah 1:17) to Dignify Women and Defend Babies.
The 2013 Walk raised approximately $167,000 in funds for CompassCare, and the 2014 Walk is on track to break that record. The 2014 Walk for Life fundraising goal is $247,000, which will enable CompassCare to increase the number of women they serve by 100%.
CompassCare is a non-profit organization dedicated to erasing the need for abortion, facilitating the delivery of baseline pre-natal visits for women facing unplanned pregnancy as well as STD testing and treatment for both men and women. CompassCare’s patient satisfaction rating is a 9.8 out of 10. “We are proud of the fact that women feel like they are treated with dignity and respect at CompassCare,” said President James R. Harden, M.Div.
“Women most often have abortions because they feel stuck, trapped, like they have no other choice. CompassCare provides women with the freedom of true choice: when a woman feels empowered to make the most difficult choice—to have her baby—then she is truly free to decide,” said Harden. “Treating a woman with dignity means we support her autonomy and trust her with all the information about her options. If she decides to abort after that, well then, it’s a truly free decision, isn’t it?” Harden went on to say that, “When women feel supported with the information and care they deserve, most of the time they carry their babies to term.”
For the 2014 Walk for Life, CompassCare is making the connection between slavery, human trafficking and abortion. Black slaves, trafficked girls, and the preborn all have one thing in common: their personhood has been denied. When personhood is denied, people become nothing more than objects to be used for the whim of the powerful. A child in the womb was denied personhood status by the Supreme Court in 1973, paving the way for abortion on demand. Harden commented, “It is incomprehensible that one person or group of people should be able to deny the personhood rights of another human being. What’s to keep that same group of people from changing the definition to exclude other groups from the rights of humanity?”
For Immediate Release: April 9, 2014
Contact: James R. Harden, M.Div. President/CEO, CompassCare
(585) 820-7229 | firstname.lastname@example.org
www.compasscare.info | facebook.com/compasscarecommunity | Twitter @compasscare
New York State Abortion Rate Lowest Since Legalization in 1970
Rochester, NY—On April 7 New York State published its Vital Statistics for 2012. The data reveals that the number of abortions statewide hit an all-time low since abortion was legalized in 1970. In the last five years alone (between 2008 and 2012) the number of abortions dropped 18%.
Leading the way in the decline are Nassau County on Long Island with a 49% reduction, Westchester County north of NYC with a 40% reduction and Rochester and Monroe County in Upstate with 34%. “Actually, while Monroe County has seen the abortion numbers drop by more than a third it is also the only County of the ‘biggest losers’ with a consistent annual reduction over the last five years,” said Jim Harden, President of CompassCare. Harden claims that his agency was responsible for serving 42% of the total number of women making up the difference of the abortion decline in Monroe County from 2008-2012.
New York State has been labeled the abortion capital of the United Sates with more abortions occurring per capita than any other State. New York City, then, would be the epicenter of the abortion capital. Yet even there the abortion rate has declined 3% from 38% to 35%.
New York State is one of the few States in the Union that actually require abortion reporting and this recent round of data seems to underscore the national abortion reduction trend of 13% between 2008 and 2011 according to a recent Guttmacher study. Abortion advocates claim that the reason for the reduction is increased effective use of contraception across the population.
Regarding the contraception claim Jim Harden notes, “Abortion is obviously connected to pregnancy. Therefore it would stand to reason that if there is increased effective use of contraception across the population one would expect that the overall pregnancy rate would be declining at the same rate as abortion. But that is not what is happening, at least in NY.”
In fact the 2012 data shows that the abortion rate declined 4.7 times faster than the pregnancy rate since 2008. Harden went on to say that the inverse also does not appear to be true: “The only place where the pregnancy rate went up significantly was Albany. There the abortion rate jumped 13 times faster than the pregnancy rate. This translates into 96% of all additional pregnancies ending in abortion. It is a ghoulish outlier. When there is virtually a 1:1 pregnancy to abortion ratio something, somewhere is profoundly broken.”
Is it purely coincidence that this alarming outlier is happening in and around NY’s capital, which has been pushing for absolute abortion deregulation via the Women’s Equality Act? National abortion foes claim that the 13% decline is directly related to increased State level regulation. Yet despite New York’s aversion to regulating abortionists the rates continue to drop all the same. Why then is the abortion trend reversing if both the reasons the pro-lifers and pro-aborts use are not backed up by the data? Harden said, “A cultural shift away from abortion as an accepted norm has begun.”
A woman considering abortion is 8 times more likely to choose to have her baby if she comes to CompassCare than if she goes to Planned Parenthood! Why? Abortion rates in Rochester dropped by 29% according to the most recent data available. That decrease is twice what the rest of the state and country experienced. Why? God answers in Romans 9:29, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.” Another way of saying it is that without God’s gracious intervention we would continue as those under direct condemnation.
Of the women seriously considering abortion who ‘chose’ to have their babies during the time frame measured above we know that CompassCare’s patients comprised 31% of the reduction. And 2014 is sizing up to be even better. Why now? Why CompassCare?
Where did the wisdom come from to reach abortion-minded women, to serve them in a way that most consistently helps them to have their babies? What is the source of the fighting spirit of the staff and volunteers or the generosity of donors and the good will of the churches? While CompassCare’s lifesaving results are the best in the nation, one may be tempted to think that these amazing results stem from the ingenuity of people. But then God reminds us how the redemption of the world actually works: “I was found by those who did not seek Me, I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me” (Romans 10:20).
Having reported on the abortion reduction trend back in August of 2013, CompassCare has continued to find ways to reach and serve more women seriously considering abortion. But is CompassCare’s activity the driving force behind its own success? If CompassCare’s success is based on its own merits, then there is no hope of abortion coming to an end. Why? Because abortion thrives in a culture that says good is whatever you want it to be. That we can choose what is right and wrong for us at any given moment. If CompassCare’s success is founded upon its own reality, a right and wrong of our choosing, then the very foundation of CompassCare is no different than the foundation of Planned Parenthood. For abortion to end we must recognize it will not be because of CompassCare or any other activity or choice that we can comprehend or accomplish humanly speaking.
The fact of the matter is that Christianity, and to the degree CompassCare reflects it, is the polar opposite of current American morality that makes personal choice the basic principle determining right and wrong. While culture says that we can create our own personal utopia, God says that we can be saved only by His “gracious choice” (Romans 11:5). In fact, He clarifies in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me but I chose you….”
So how do we explain CompassCare’s fantastic results? Simple, 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.” CompassCare can continue to serve in ways that are this staggeringly ground-breaking only if God chooses to continue to use us.
Yet our imagination still churns to answer the question, “What else needs to happen for abortion to be eliminated from our social landscape? Answer: Christian revival – beginning with the Church. Not a personal choice to follow Jesus now or later, but confessing that Jesus is Lord and believing it in our hearts (Romans 10:9). This is the essence of Christian revival: a submission to God’s revelation of Himself. This will set apart the Church from culture, and save society from the merciless compassion of a consumer culture bent on cannibalizing itself.
Apart from God’s choice to save us we can choose nothing but ourselves. To be clear, revival is not a matter of working harder at our chosen Christian lifestyle. The Apostle Paul reiterates, “So it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy” (Romans 9:16). So then, ours is not to choose but to pray.
An abortion-extinguishing revival is ultimately a choice, but not ours. It is an act of God, wherein He decides that our hollow society should be filled with Him. It is only after the enticing sensate storm of culture fades that God chooses to speak into the soul of His chosen race (I Peter 2:9) with His deafeningly still small voice. His voice of truth then whispers the ancient words upon which the very world was founded, and the newly created believer simply bows.
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Women at-risk for abortion love CompassCare! On CompassCare’s in-house exit survey, women score their satisfaction with the services at 9.8 out of 10. Online CompassCare receives 5 stars out of 5!
Here is what some of them are saying: “Julie [the nurse] has been so helpful, informative and calming! I’m so glad my friend recommended you folks to me!” (B.A. December 10, 2013). “CompassCare has amazing nurses. I would recommend them to anyone dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. See CompassCare first!” (D.P. August 21, 2013). “The care here is excellent. Could not ask for better!!” (A.C. September 26, 2013).
Keep in mind that CompassCare does not perform or refer for abortion. It should also be noted that 95% of CompassCare’s patients are at-risk for abortion, and a majority of them have already made up their minds to abort. Despite the fact that CompassCare is not giving them what they think they need—an abortion—these women absolutely love their time in the office. Why? Because at CompassCare women are treated with dignity.
A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy feels alone, her life pressures driving her into isolation. She feels like she has no other choice, that she needs an abortion. Those pressures pushing her to get an abortion against her natural inclination are what the legal and medical communities describe as ‘coercive.’ When a person is coerced into making a decision, they are by definition not free and their dignity as an autonomous human being is trampled. CompassCare has created a service structure that intentionally shelters women from coercive pressure, providing real information and life-changing resources, giving her a vision of her future after having a baby.
One reason why patients love CompassCare is that we understand that abortion represents the opposite of medical care (see Hippocratic Oath). The purpose of medical care has always been the good of the patient—to heal and maintain the health of a person—and there are two people in the case of a pregnant woman. Just because abortion was legalized by the US Supreme Court does not make it medicine or ethical. CompassCare services adhere to traditional medical ethics by protecting the woman and preborn child from hidden agendas and coercive circumstances.
CompassCare’s services are more important than ever as abortion moves toward the status of a full-fledged human right. If the default position of law is that abortion is an issue of women’s rights then refusing to immediately perform or refer a woman for abortion becomes an act of discrimination. This makes it very difficult for an ethical medical provider to have a meaningful interaction with her patient about what abortion might mean for her future reproductive health, for her developing baby, and for her emotional and spiritual well-being. Having open and honest dialogue about these things is what the larger medical community calls ‘informed consent.’ CompassCare is here to facilitate informed consent.
The services a woman receives are important. But just as important, if not more so, is the manner in which those services are provided. Treating a woman with dignity means we protect her autonomy, her ability to say ‘no’ to a procedure she never really wanted. She is a human being made in the very likeness of God. To dignify her is to respect her whole life: body, mind, and spirit. Simply giving her an abortion is a failure to respect her and in essence, dehumanizes her. This level of neglect masquerading as ‘women’s rights’ is a purely mercenary means to a dollar or a socio-political agenda.
Every time a woman chooses to have her baby, CompassCare wins, she wins, the baby wins, and the community wins.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo, during a recent radio interview remarked that pro-lifers are extreme conservatives who “have no place in New York” have no place in representative government. Later New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio backed Cuomo’s statements “100%.”
Spread the message on social media that you are a pro-life New Yorker. Join the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who favor common sense restrictions on abortion rather than the extremist deregulation of it through all nine months of pregnancy like Cuomo proposed in 2013 and once again in his 2014 State of the State address deceitfully entitled ‘Women’s Equality.’
Change your Facebook photo telling everyone that you are one of those people Cuomo in his radio interview. When posting or re-posting anything that has to do with Cuomo use the hash tag #prolifeNY.
The interview, heard by many now, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sparked a firestorm of criticism by shocked and concerned citizens whom he is supposed to represent. His aides released a clarification letter regarding the interpretation of his comments insisting that the Governor did not say, “conservatives should leave the State.” That’s true. What he actually said was that extreme conservatives have “no place in the State of NY.” (Start listening to the interview at min 9:20) Feel better?
Thankfully he did take the time to define those who he believed are conservative extremists. In his mind extremists have a religiously motivated belief in ‘the right to life’ (his words), or who are anti-gay (pro-natural marriage, perhaps?), or who are pro-assault weapon (um, maybe second amendment advocates, not sure). He said that these people seem to be one and the same representing approximately 30% of the New Yorker population. He gave no citation as to his statistics. To be clear, according to a 2013 poll half of New Yorkers self-identify as pro-life and a super majority 75-80% favor common sense restrictions on abortion. Also, there is not perfect overlap of views. Not all pro-lifers are pro-gun. Not all ‘anti-gay’ are pro-life. The point is that Cuomo is alienating a lot more than just 50% of New Yorkers saying those ‘extremist’ views have no place in NY.
Meanwhile back in 2013 and again in his 2014 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo promoted the total deregulation of abortion through the omnibus bill titled “Women’s Equality Act” which would permit abortions to be performed by non-doctors through all nine months of pregnancy while insulating abortionists from any responsibility if the abortion were botched while enshrining abortion as a fundamental human right up there with freedom of speech. Whose the extremist now?
But anyway, as the interview progressed, it was tempting conclude that he was speaking to the public since he was giving a public interview on the radio. But let’s give Cuomo the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was only talking to legislators who represent the people. It is just those type of extremest legislators who have no place in government. But in a representative government, government by the consent of the governed and all that, to say there is no place for the representation of the beliefs of the people is essentially saying that there is no place for those people. There is no getting around it. If elected officials are supposed to represent the people and the people are pro-life, pro-natural marriage, and pro-second amendment then those are exactly the issues those representatives should represent.
Instead we are left to conclude that according to Cuomo, elected officials should dictate the new morality and force it upon the population because there is no place in government for these good old fashioned, I mean extremist, views held by the majority. We are left to assume that those types of people are welcome to stay in NY just not be represented.
Ironically, he did go on to say in his interview that there is a place for the moderate republicans who control the Senate. If you recall it was those same Senators who blocked Cuomo’s abortion expansion bill last year. So maybe there is a place in the New York legislature after all, at least to protect the ‘right to life’ for the most vulnerable among us, the pre-born boy and girl.
In the last five years over 10,000 women at risk for abortion have gone on to have their babies nationwide because of CompassCare! In fact, Monroe County, home of CompassCare, now has the lowest abortion rate in 40 years.
There is not enough room to list all the amazing things the CompassCare team has done in 2013. Suffice it to say that CompassCare continued its extremely high rate of performance in 2013. In fact, at the time of this writing CompassCare has helped at least 96 women seriously considering abortion have their babies in Rochester, and 13% of all women served committed their lives to Christ!
Success in reaching more women and helping more of them to have their babies is rooted in the desire to please God. We see in the Parable of the Talents that God expects a return on the resources He entrusts to us (Matthew 25: 14-30). But what does God consider a good investment? Jesus answers that question in the parable that immediately follows about the Sheep and the Goats in verses 31-46. The sheep enter in to the joy of their master, just like the faithful servants in the Parable of the Talents, but for a very specific kind of investment…people. When blessing the righteous sheep with inheritance of the kingdom he explains why: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me’” (Matthew 25: 35-36).
From God’s perspective, the only thing that can increase the value of our time and possessions is if they are invested in eternal souls, people. And since those eternal souls in which we are able to invest are more or less attached to temporal, physical bodies, how we treat them is an indicator of how well we understand and serve our King.
Further, it is not just any type of person God is asking us to serve. He is not just asking husbands to buy a dozen roses for their wives on their wedding anniversary. He is talking specifically about those that have no resources with which to protect themselves or ability to pay you back. He quantifies a good return based on our investment in individuals that have no other recourse, advocate or friend.
Think about it for a minute: Those that are hungry and thirsty are the poor without financial resources. The stranger is one who is socially marginalized. The naked are the demonized. The sick and imprisoned are those who have lost their physical freedom for whatever reason. Those people, the poor, the marginalized, the alienated, the sick and imprisoned represent the sinner’s position before a holy and righteous God. Jesus’ sole purpose for coming to this earth was to empty Himself of His resources for us, who were imprisoned to our sin-sick soul, without rights or standing in the Kingdom of God, spiritually emaciated. He died and rose from the grave in defeat of sin that we might be set free to go and do likewise.
“When Jesus had finished all these words [ in the Parables of the Talent and the Sheep and the Goats], He said to His disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.’” (Matthew 26: 1-2). It is as if Jesus were saying, “What I just described as My expectation for the investment of your resources in those parables, I am going to do for you. I’ll show you what I mean. I’ll give you the power to do it in the Holy Spirit. Follow me.”
This investment in others is called redemption. The role we play as Christians ought to mirror that which Jesus played on our behalf at the cross. And the cross is not merely a good example, the story of some great teacher or martyr. No, it is the very gateway to the power of any and all true redemption. Any good we do investing in the lives of the people around us can only come from the power we have through the cross of Christ setting us free first. In America today the most marginalized are the woman facing unplanned pregnancy, coerced by fear, exploited by unethical abortionists, caught between what she knows to be right (having the baby) and the seeming impossibility of doing what’s right by herself. In America today, the most disenfranchised is the preborn baby deemed to have no rights as a person and no voice to speak on his own behalf. Who will speak for those children? Who will serve those mothers? Jesus did and His followers will too.
What were the times like that first Christmas? Certainly the first public proclamation of Jesus’ birth by the angel to the lowly shepherds was a sign of ‘good news and great joy for all the people’ (Luke 2: 10). It is no coincidence that lowly shepherds were given the honor as the first recipients of the royal proclamation representing the poor, the weak, the marginalized, those out in the proverbial cold and dark of society. It is no coincidence that the worldly powerful had to blindly grope for any morsel of news about this atomic bomb of history. And to the shepherds, this Jesus born in solidarity with them revealed a glimpse into the resplendent glory of the heaven awaiting. Thousands of angels voiced praise to the Most High, Who was now wrapped in rags. It was cause for rejoicing, for the Savior’s birth was ‘for them’ (Luke 2:11), those with rags for armor and pain for comfort.
But there was treachery and scheming going on. A lurking and real danger moved in the shadows. For the hard work of redeeming a lost people; blind, deaf, crippled, possessed, poor and wretched is a war. It is a fight for the dignity and liberation of each person, yes, for exploited pregnant women and their dehumanized babies. This work, while pure joy for those saved, is vile to the politically powerful and met with vitriol. “Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2: 13). Herod, realizing that the magi who were supposed to report back had tricked him, ordered all the male children two years old and younger within the vicinity of Bethlehem be killed (Matthew 2: 12, 16-18).
The book of Revelation clarifies what was really happening with Herod and the nativity, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour the child” (Rev 12:4b).
The following days, those between Jesus’ birth and His second coming, those times in which you and I now live, are described like this, “And there was war in heaven . . . And they [the believers] overcame him [the great dragon] because of the blood of the lamb [Jesus’ death on the cross] and because of the word of their testimony [how Jesus had freed them from bondage to sin], and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12: 7a, 11). Christmas is a war and the war rages on. The nativity is a battleground for every life.
It is a battle for the soul; the restoration of each human to God is what the cross is all about. And the call of the believer is no different. We are called to the same self-sacrifice on behalf of others, loving God and others more than even our own life. As the Apostle Peter says, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (I Peter 2: 21). The salvation of others depends on our ability to follow Christ so well, to be so much like heaven as to be unrecognizable by a fallen world, to be so enamored with the glory of God that we consider our suffering in this life as joy in comparison.
Christians are uniquely suited to know who those in bondage are because we also were in bondage. Christians are uniquely suited to understand the plight of the poor and powerless because we too were once poor and found true wealth. And now, so armed with this heavenly virtue of forgiveness and sacrifice found in Christ, the Christian ventures back into the bowels of this cavernous world to face the evil and free its slaves because that is what the King has done for him.
A woman is at risk for abortion because she is a casualty of war, oppressed by a twisted culture, offering death as a solution. A culture bent in on itself, unable to offer hope and real help. She is coerced, pressured to make a decision alone, pursued by fear . . . and the life of her baby hangs in the balance. Our joy is to set her free, to help her insulate her baby from the elements of this stormy world. This is Christmas; hers and ours, the morning star on the edge of night. These are the circumstances for joy, the circumstances that define generosity and the gospel of life.
Merry Christmas! To give online click here.