Posts Tagged ‘ religious liberty

ALERT: Hobby Lobby Supreme Court Ruling NOT About Contraception

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 birthheadscratcher 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.’

  1. The first point to consider before champagne is the 5-4 decision. This was an issue of freedom of religion my friends. The question as to whether or not a person, acting as an We the peopleindividual or as a corporation, can live out their religious beliefs in the public square was narrowly upheld. That is to say it was refuted by four Supreme Court Justices! Remind me again why this country was founded? So let’s say one of the five majority justices retires and is replaced by a justice who sides with the minority…at that moment when one’s religion becomes a public matter at odds with official government policy it comes with criminal penalties (er…taxes).
  2. A second point that we ought to consider to temper our enthusiasm is the sad fact that holding as true a fact confirmed by empirical science could be considered a religious belief if it does not support the secular government position. ‘Human life begins at conception’ is now considered a religious belief simply because it aligns with the Christian worldview, embryology and human genetics notwithstanding. It would be understandable for the court to site as religious the belief that all humans are made in the image of God and therefore ought to enjoy protection under the law at every stage of development from conception to nature death, hence abortion is bad But that was not the point of religious belief the court considered. It happens to be terribly inconvenient to the abortion agenda that science sides with the pro-lifers on this point. And the court, complicit with that agenda per Roe vs Wade, already ruled that a pre-born child is not a person deserving of protection under the law. So now they are stuck with the Solomon-like act of slicing the baby called science between two would be religions, theirs called secularism or Christianity. So does this mean that embryologists who recognize the new organism with human DNA created at fertilization are religious zealots?
  3. The third point is that the abortion industry has gotten not only the government (including Health and Human Services [HHS] and the Supreme Court), but the media, and 1237682_untitledeven many pro-life advocates to call certain types of abortion ‘contraception.’ The word ‘contraception’ is intended to define the use of methods that block conception which apparently in all other species but human takes place at fertilization. The abortion industry prefers to talk about when ‘pregnancy begins’ (they say it is at the time the embryo implants in the uterine wall) while the pro-life population prefers to talk about when the life of a separate and distinct human being starts (fertilization of the egg by the sperm). If contraception is supposed to mean the prevention of pregnancy and a pregnancy is not said to begin until the newly formed life is firmly implanted in the uterine lining (an arbitrary and convenience definition by the way) then drugs and devices that make it impossible for the embryo to implant are benignly called ‘contraceptives.’ If on the other hand life begins at fertilization, as embryology tells us, then that’s when pregnancy begins and those same drugs cannot be considered anything but abortifacients.
  4. A fourth cooling effect the decision should have on us is that it represents a ruling on a detail of an unethical, wrongheaded law (PPACA, aka Obamacare). This amounts to a sub-ruling serving only to further cement what ought to otherwise be repealed. Obamacare represents the takeover of the profession of medicine inserting itself in the place of the patient in the doctor/patient relationship. Now the government decides what ‘good health’ is for you, a member of a population that they manage, rather than you and your doctor. So, since the government has identified a population block called ‘women of child bearing age’ they have mandated that abortion-causing, carcinogenic drugs are good for all women. Individual health care no longer matters despite the rhetoric. It’s the population objective that counts as determined by non-elected rule-makers at the HHS. The same ones who wrote the contraceptive mandates at issue here. Simply Orwellian.

Obamacare, Abortion, and Your Choices

Obamacare creates a moral crisis for America and every Christian, not only forcing us to pay for the destruction of the most vulnerable human life, but making it illegal or difficult not to do so. Everyone will fall into one of the five decisions categories below either intentionally or unintentionally. CompassCare is committed to helping you make an informed and ethical health insurance decision. By January 1st, 2014 we all must choose between the following:

  1. Choose a plan through a state exchange where your premiums will directly pay for abortion. 
  2. Enroll in a plan in the traditional insurance market via your employer which will also likely pay for abortion or abortion-causing contraception.
  3. Become a ‘conscientious objector’ by opting out and not purchasing health insurance at all and pay financial penalties14 to the IRS, up to 2.5% of family income or $2,085 (whichever is greater) by year 2016 (‘Rendering unto Caesar…’ Mark 12:17).
  4.  Engage in ‘civil disobedience’ opting out AND refusing to pay the fine (‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you…’ Acts 4:19). However, since the Supreme Court ruled the individual mandate constitutional, legal defense would be challenging.

Opt out and join a Christian cost-sharing community such as MediShare or Samaritan Ministries, membership in which would exempt you from any penalties.15

Your Health Insurance Pays for Abortion–Just the Facts

The following is a consolidated summary of the primary points of which Christians should be aware concerning how the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare. The PPACA and the Health and Human Services mandates, with a particular focus on concerns regarding health insurance coverage of abortion-causing drugs and devices, now immediately impact you.  

A.  Health Insurance plans nationwide are now mandated to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives. Some of these actually cause abortion. These mandates took effect on August 1, 2012; for some narrowly defined religious institutions (see #2), the effective date was delayed until August 1, 2013.

“The HHS mandate requires coverage of ‘all FDA-approved contraceptive methods.’ HHS claims in a fact sheet that the mandate does ‘not include abortifacient drugs.’[1] However, the regulation itself, which takes precedence over any governmental ‘fact sheet,’ contains no such exclusion. Moreover, studies show that at least one drug approved by the FDA for ‘contraceptive use,’ a close analogue to the abortion drug RU-486 (mifepristone), can cause an abortion when taken to avoid pregnancy.[2][3]

B.  In the rulemaking process following the passage of the PPACA the administration has defined what it means to be a religious organization. Only organizations meeting all four of the following criteria are exempt from paying for insurance plans which cover abortion-causing contraceptives:

1) Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose;

2) Primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets;

3) Primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets; and

4) Is a non-profit organization under section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii) of the Code.[4]

CompassCare—and any faith-based organization serving or evangelizing non-members—fails to meet this criteria.

C.  Even organizations which meet the above criteria for religious exemption will not actually be able to avoid paying for abortion-causing contraception, because the so-called “accommodation”[5] made by the administration simply requires the insurance companies to provide coverage, rather than the employer. But where will the insurance companies get the money to cover abortion? From their customers monthly premiums.

D.  As of 2014, the “Individual mandate” takes effect, which requires all individuals who are not covered under private insurance to purchase health insurance through a state exchange. Any participant in a state health insurance exchange which covers elective abortions will pay at least $1/month directly from their paycheck into a fund to be used only for elective abortions of all types.[6]

E.  There are currently 40 lawsuits involving over 110 plaintiffs filed in opposition to the HHS mandates.[7]

Resources:

 


[2] The drug in question is ulipristal (HRP 2000, or Ella). See A. Tarantal, et al., “Effects of Two Antiprogestins on Early Pregnancy in the Long-Tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis),” 54 Contraception 107-115 (1996), at 114 (“studies with mifepristone and HRP 2000 have shown both antiprogestins to have roughly comparable activity in terminating pregnancy when administered during the early stages of gestation”); G. Bernagiano & H. von Hertzen, “Towards more effective emergency contraception?”, 375 The Lancet 527-28 (Feb. 13, 2010), at 527 (“Ulipristal has similar biological effects to mifepristone, the antiprogestin used in medical abortion”).

[3] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Re: Interim Final Rules on Preventive Services File Code CMS-9992-IFC2” August 31, 2011. Available from: http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/hhs-mandate/upload/Interim-Final-Rules-on-Preventive-Services.pdf

Religious Freedom and Abortion

Why would the leader of a pregnancy center agree to speak at a rally for religious freedom? Not simply because he is religious in the traditional sense of the word referring to orthodox Christian belief. It is because belief in a knowable external God provides the basis for understanding the ultimate nature and purpose of man. And it is the fact that man is made in the image of God that we derive an understanding of how men should treat one another. Without a commonly held set of beliefs about the higher purpose of humanity we can have no commonly held set of ideals or virtues that would be considered helpful to a man or all of mankind in fulfilling that ultimate purpose. Wisdom, temperance, justice, and courage are all descriptions of behavior patterns that if employed consistently will help both a man and his fellow man attain that higher level of humanity, reflecting ever more closely the character of God Himself.

What happens if a nation replaces traditional spiritual religion with, say, a material one? Mankind’s purpose could not rise above the level of random, complex biochemical reactions. Once materialism takes root a sense of meaninglessness infects the general public. And what if that general public was living within a governmental structure that valued individual rights and equality above all else? Every man’s belief about what is right and wrong would grow inward like a bad toenail as he would begin to forget everyone else but himself swimming in a sea of putrid physical pleasure (since the physical material world is all there is). Materialism’s formula for attaining the highest good for a man is maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. And as Tocqueville prophesied in 1833 in Democracy in America, “I see an innumerable multitude of men, alike and equal, constantly circling around in pursuit of the petty and banal pleasures with which they glut their souls. Each one withdrawn into himself, is almost unaware of the fate of the rest. . . . Over this kind of men stands an immense, protective power which is alone responsible for securing their enjoyment and watching over their fate . . . . It would resemble parental authority if, father-like, it tried to prepare its charges for a man’s life, but on the contrary, it only tries to keep them in perpetual childhood. It likes to see the citizens enjoy themselves, provided that they think of nothing but enjoyment.”

It is this future that only true Christian religion can stave off. It is only true belief in the One Emancipator Jesus Christ that can permit a democratic form of government from drifting into despotism. It is belief in Christ that alone causes men to discipline themselves and manage their own affairs without destroying other men in the process. If we do not have a God who does not depend on humanity for existence but is above it and its solitary judge based on moral laws as unchanging as gravity then the mob will forever be at the mercy of the whims of rich madmen who slowly dehumanize whole segments of the population (like pre-born children), reclassify morality as personal, deconstruct the family by redefining its roles, delude children through education, demean women through feminism, and demoralize men through the opiate of pleasure and entertainment.

Why does a leader of a pregnancy center speak at a rally for religious freedom? Because to do otherwise is to reject the fundamental solution to abortion and all other social ills–a rejection of apathy and a return to Jesus Christ. Join me at noon tomorrow outside the Federal building in Rochester at the corner of State and Church streets (the irony does not escape me either).

Forced Contraception Reveals Obamacare Not Really About Healthcare Reform

Proverbs 23:10 says, “Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless.” Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Obama Administration, Healthcare Reform, Forced Contraception, Religious Liberty: What do all these words have in common? The inevitable social cost of abortion. So what exactly does abortion cost? The obvious answer is that it costs a woman on average $600. But what lies beneath the popular debate is much more insidious.

 We know abortion also costs a woman her health. Breast cancer incidences have increased 40% since 1973, the year preborn children were deemed nonhuman and abortion became acceptable. 52 of 68 epidemiological studies show abortion as an independent risk factor for breast cancer.1 Planned Parenthood’s marketing ploy of sex without consequence creates an expectation for the use of contraceptive devices and steroidal ‘hormone therapies.’ Women using oral contraceptives have been found to have a 2.5X increased risk of triple negative breast cancer (the worst kind).2 In fact the World Health Organization lists the estrogen/progesterone ‘hormonal’ contraception as a Group 1 carcinogen in the same category as plutonium.3 Not to mention the fact that oral contraceptives can and do cause abortion, often without a woman ever knowing it. It is clear that abortion and oral contraceptives are major predictors if not direct contributors to the breast cancer epidemic. And then there is the well known and longstanding knowledge that abortion increases the risk of future pre-term deliveries and complications of ‘wanted’ pregnancies by 300-500%.4 Abortion causes a condition called ‘incompetent cervix’ whereby damage is done by forcing the cervix open weakening the ability of the cervix to retain future pregnancies to full term. Thank you March of Dimes for all your help in raising awareness around and prevention of pre-term deliveries but why haven’t you said anything about abortion?

Barak Obama through what I am sure is a well meaning albeit misguided utopian ideology is enacting healthcare reform demanding that religious institutions violate their beliefs and provide all employees with access to these cancer and abortion causing contraceptives or else incur steep penalties they cannot afford. But lest we fail to think the Obama administration is interested in protecting constitutional religious liberty he gave ‘religious institutions’ (by his definition not theirs) an additional year to change their beliefs.5

Let us be clear: Healthcare reform has never been about healthcare. The issue over mandated abortifacient contraception illustrates this. It is about something deeper. It is about creating a State where all men are not just ‘created’ equal rather they are ‘evolved’ to be the same. It is about legislators and political representatives believing that they know better how a man ought to believe and behave. When a government mandates morality, when it usurps control over medicine it becomes the dictator of the masses and the owner of the individual. Mass ‘equality’ results only in mass dehumanization (see the People’s Republic of China). The sweeping enactment of healthcare embodies a fundamental yet unstated presupposition; that individual human beings are evolutionary by-products to be managed. America’s constitution, our medical community, our universities, our seminaries were all based on the premise that humanity is made in the image of God. Therefore all individuals from conception to natural death are inviolable, deserving of the highest respect, afforded the most comprehensive protection, an end in and of themselves and able to attain to the noblest of virtues, needing no external system of government to control belief or behavior. G.K. Chesterton once said, “God forbid the day ever come when people don’t commit murder because it is against the law.” Why? Because it signals a culture embracing relativism and the insanity of political correctness.

We are losing our nation because certain educators and legislators, theologians and medical providers attained the pinnacle of arrogance deciding to sacrifice what made America unique, our shared beliefs in God and its impact on our behavior toward each other, in favor of an evolutionary ‘equality’ a.k.a. godless utopia. This makes every man his own god and thereby all things permissible. A general lethargy of compassion begins to seep into culture as a generation of predators is raised to pursue their own pleasure. It is at this point when government is compelled to step in to control the inevitable social chaos enacting more legislation, ‘regulating’ entire sectors of society. The primary relationship all individuals now have is not with their God or with their spouse and children but rather with one’s government. So of course the government can impose its transient morality on you and me because there can be no one higher or stronger of any real consequence to a man’s thoughts and actions for we are ‘enlightened.’

So what does abortion cost? It costs us our God, our family, our country, our conscience, our future. And whose fault is it? Not really the abortionists. Not even the venal cowards who call themselves ‘public servants.’ It’s us. As the journalist Edward Murrow once said, “We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this.” Like ashes from the furnaces of Auschwitz the ramifications of abortion are landing on the rooftops of our moral house of cards. Years from now, preserved as keystrokes on a smart phone or digital pictures on SD cards, we will see escapist chatter, cute pictures of America’s 1.9 children born to consumers married only to personal pleasure, irresponsible wards of the state mistaking meaningless political clichés for substance; hope and change, hope and change. What will be the legacy of a culture complicit in this dehumanization of the preborn child? We must sacrifice now like never before lest what we do today be too little too late and we all are treated like babies before the abortionist’s knife.

1http://www.lifesitenews.com

2http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/18/4/1157.abstract

3http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

4www.abortionfacts.com/reardon/after_effects_of_abortion.asp

5http://www.cathnewsusa.com