Life Advocacy Briefing

July 14, 2014

Your Action Needed Now! / Expected but Still Welcome / More Shoes to Drop
Quoteworthy / Fireworks / Court Confirms Ruling by Giving Wheaton College Relief

Your Action Needed Now!

SENATE MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID (D-NV) WAS QUOTED in the media with some highly disgruntled remarks about the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment of religious liberty, but words are of little consequence, particularly when one holds the reins of actual power. What Leader Reid actually did was cobble together a bill for introduction by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who always seems to be available to Sen. Reid when he wants to do the abortion lobby’s bidding.

This time the Reid/Murray ploy is a frontal assault on religious liberty, on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, on which the high court based its Hobby Lobby decision, and on conscientiously objecting Americans who refuse to comply with unconstitutional government mandates to financially aid their employees’ abortions.

S-2578 is officially titled “A bill to ensure that employers cannot interfere in their employees’ birth control and other health care decisions” and is preposterously nicknamed the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act”.

This little gem boasts 40 co-sponsors, whom we list below. It was filed July 9 and has yet, as of this writing, to be assigned to a committee. Indeed, American Family Assn. warns in a July 10 bulletin that Sen. Reid plans to “bypass all committees to put this on the ‘fast track.’” AFA predicts a vote “as early as [this] week.”

We urge our readers to contact home-state Senators (1-202/224-3121) and ask them to vote “no” on S-2578, which AFA describes as “a very demented and hate-filled attack on Hobby Lobby and people of faith everywhere.” It is critical that Senators understand that the worst response to the Supreme Court decision is a hasty undercutting of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which, on enactment, passed the House unanimously and the Senate with just three negative votes before being signed by Pres. Bill Clinton (D).

We were unable to obtain a copy of the bill by our press time, but AFA has published an outline which it attributes to Sen. Murray’s Internet website:

  • “Banning employers from refusing to cover any health coverage – including contraceptive coverage – guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law;
  • “Stating that all federal laws do not permit employers to refuse to comply with the ACA [ObamaCare] requirement, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act;
  • “Including the exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits.”

This language is, of course, politically couched to make Sen. Murray look reasonable rather than fully exposing the anti-religious-freedom and overtly political purpose of this treat for the abortion cartel. No wonder Sen. Reid wants to rush the Senate to judgment on this unnecessary, reactionary proposal, even while the true crises facing our nation mount every day.

As Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins noted in his July 9 Washington Update, “To most Americans, there are far more urgent challenges facing America – a shrinking GDP [Gross Domestic Product], job growth, the Middle East and immigration – than the hardship of $9 birth control. Not to mention, a new report explains that the rate of women enjoying no-cost birth control and abortifacients has skyrocketed from 14% to 56% – in just one year. If that isn’t access to reproductive ‘health care,’ I don’t know what is!”

Co-sponsoring S-2578 are 40 Senate Democrats along with Sen. Murray: Senators Mark Begich (AK), Barbara Boxer & Dianne Feinstein (CA), Michael Bennet & Mark Udall (CO), Richard Blumenthal & Christopher Murphy (CT), Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz (HI), Richard Durbin (IL), Tom Harkin (IA), Benjamin Cardin & Barbara Mikulski (MD), Edward Markey & Elizabeth Warren (MA), Carl Levin & Debbie Stabenow (MI), Al Franken & Amy Klobuchar (MN), Jon Tester & John Walsh (MT), Harry Reid (NV), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Cory Booker & Robert Menendez (NJ), Martin Heinrich & Tom Udall (NM), Kirsten Gillibrand & Charles Schumer (NY), Kay Hagan (NC), Sherrod Brown (OH), Jeff Merkley & Ron Wyden (OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Tim Johnson (SD), Patrick Leahy & Bernard Sanders (VT), Tim Kaine (VA), Maria Cantwell (WA), Tammy Baldwin (WI).


Expected but Still Welcome

AS JOYFUL AS PRO-LIFE AMERICANS ARE about the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision June 30 in the Hobby Lobby case, the narrowness of the victory margin is troubling in view of the clear question at the heart of the case: Does government have the power to mandate an employer to violate his or her conscience in the benefits offered employees?

The Hobby Lobby case, as the Court ruled, was clearly about religious freedom, and religious freedom is a fundamental principle of our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence (both the legal framework and the foundational principles of America herself).

We offer our appreciation to Justice Samuel Alito for an excellent presentation of the Court’s majority opinion, and we offer our thanks to the owners of Hobby Lobby and to all those other plaintiffs who have resisted the outrageous abortifacient mandate in the ObamaCare regulations.

We offer our disdain to the four Justices who dissented from the majority opinion and in particular to Justice Ruth Ginsberg, whose hysterical response was unbecoming to a jurist on the highest court of our land.


More Shoes to Drop

HOBBY LOBBY & ITS Co-PLAINTIFF CONESTOGA WOOD are not the only plaintiffs objecting to the ObamaCare abortifacient mandate; indeed, as many as hundreds of businesses and non-profit organizations – including religious institutions – have cases pending at various federal court levels and employing a variety of arguments. The Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Wood ruling is expected to elevate those cases and favorably affect the outcomes even at lower court levels.

The high court itself granted an emergency injunction to Wheaton College – one of those plaintiffs – ruling 6-to-3 that the venerated Christian institution does not have to comply with the Obama Regime’s “religious accommodation” while its lawsuit pends in lower courts. We publish at the close of this Life Advocacy Briefing a commentary by Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins explaining the ruling, which received very little news coverage but was a significant victory of the sort we can expect to follow Hobby Lobby.



Dr. Ben Carson in a June 27 interview with Perry Atkinson, president of theDove TV, quoted by “‘The one thing that I think is so important for Christians and for conservatives, if we’re ever going to win this war with abortion, we have to be able to talk about it. … The good thing is that the American populace is moving closer and closer to understanding that abortion is murder. Every year we’re getting better on that regard.’ … Americans ‘must remember that we cannot be free if we are not brave.’”



Commentary by Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins in his July 1, 2014, Washington Update

If you wanted to see fireworks in DC, you didn’t have to wait for July 4th. Yesterday’s decision on the HHS mandate exploded on the media scene, lighting a fuse under the radicals of the Left. While most Americans watched with pleasure as a pillar of ObamaCare fell, liberals sulked at another loss for lawlessness. Democrats couldn’t fire off their press releases fast enough, as they vowed to push their assault on faith in the marketplace by ending justices’ opt-out. Promising a legislative fix, [Senate] Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insisted that Americans’ “right” to sex-on-demand trumps a company’s deeply held beliefs on contraception and abortifacients.

As out of touch as liberals are with the law, it turns out that they’re even more out of touch with voters. While the Left trotted out its tired “war on women” line, FRC’s Cathy Ruse pointed out that the majority of women opposed the mandate – including 60% of the lower-court female judges who voted to stop it!

Our own survey, which helped shape the messaging for the entire movement, confirmed the trend. Back in May, WPA Opinion Research found in an FRC-commissioned poll that 53% of voters (including 50% of women!) disapproved of the idea that employers should have to pay for workers’ sexual decisions. So if there is a war, it’s on the facts.

While the Twitter world ignites with threats of burning down Hobby Lobby stores (and a record number of profane comments), most of the outrage is entirely unfounded. As Sean Davis explained, “The truth of the matter is that the case was about abortion, specifically four types of contraception that can result in the destruction of a fertilized egg. Hobby Lobby paid for 16 different types of non-abortive contraceptive coverage for its employees.”

As liberals try to spin this into a debate about denying women free “reproductive care,” the reality is that the federal government already gives out free birth control and abortion drugs at Title X [Ten] clinics all across America. What the Court said was that it’s not right to order conscientious objectors to provide it, under threat of crippling fines, when there are other ways to get it to them. Plus, the Federalist jabs, there’s no such thing as “denying access” to birth control if these businesses are paying employees wages they can then use to buy whatever they want. But unfortunately, the Left never lets the truth get in the way of a convenient sound bite.

Meanwhile, the political debate goes on. House Speaker John Boehner, like more than two dozen other members, praised Monday’s ruling. “Today’s decision is a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an Administration that has repeatedly crossed Constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives. The mandate overturned today would have required for-profit companies to choose between violating their Constitutionally-protected faith or paying crippling fines, which would have forced them to lay off employees or close their doors.”

For now the President, who’s been on the losing end of a number of major Supreme Court decisions, is resorting to a childish response, warning that he’ll try another end-run around the Court to get his way. “They’re acting like the town bully,” Cathy Ruse said. “‘Hey, Mother Angelica, you don’t wanna provide free birth control pills to all of these people? Well, then, you pay us $100 every day for every person you refuse to supply … until you change your mind.’ There’s an easier way, and the Court gave them a map: If the White House wants to give free birth control and abortion drugs to every woman in America, they should pay for it themselves.” [Hopefully not via taxpayers!]

Of course, the irony in all this is that Democrats are suddenly jumping on the transparency bandwagon, which might be funny if it weren’t so offensive. Senate Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) said yesterday that he would “introduce legislation that requires all corporations using this Supreme Court decision to deny or limit contraception services to disclose this policy to all employed and applicants for employment. Workers have a right to know if their employers are restricting the availability of a whole range of family planning coverage.” This from a party that created an ObamaCare “secrecy clause” to stop Americans from finding out whether their plans cover abortion!

If the President’s party is demanding clarity, we’re all for it. In the meantime, one thing is clear: the days of the HHS mandate may be numbered. In the last 24 hours, seven more religious institutions won emergency injunctions against the order (including EWTN and Wheaton College), setting up phase two of the mandate takedown. As dozens of nonprofits fight on, the Becket Fund predicted, “the death knell is sounding for the HHS mandate.” Thank goodness. One vote the other way in the Supreme Court, and the death knell would have been for the First Amendment.


Court Confirms Ruling by Giving Wheaton College Relief

Commentary by Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins in his July 7, 2014, Washington Update

The Supreme Court’s term may be over, but the debate certainly isn’t. Four days after hanging up their robes for the summer, the justices made another splash on the HHS mandate – this time, taking a bite out of the President’s outrageous “compromise.” Last year, when the backlash over the mandate was too much for the White House to handle, the President announced an “accommodation” for religious groups – which, it turns out, only accommodates his agenda of forcing people to cover pills and procedures they morally object to.

Essentially, the Obama Administration suggested that religious groups still pay for the “health care” they oppose but use a third party to do so. Unfortunately, faith-based groups pointed out, the cost shifting doesn’t change anything. There’s a slight adjustment in how the accounting is done for the drugs or services that violate people’s consciences – but in the end, the President’s “compromise” is just a bookkeeping gimmick that hides the coverage in the plan.

It’s even more ridiculous when you consider that self-insured nonprofits are their own insurance companies – so even a flimsy buffer like the President’s wouldn’t protect them. As FRC has pointed out, it’s a political fig leaf that does nothing to alter the President’s underlying discrimination against religious organizations.

But unfortunately, that fig leaf is what’s holding the feet of faith-based charities, colleges and hospitals to the mandate’s fire. More than four dozen lawsuits are winding their way through the courts – including a challenge from Illinois’s Wheaton College, a Christian school near Chicago. On Thursday, the justices took the sting out of the mandate for Wheaton, at least temporarily, until the case makes its way to the Court. By a 6-to-3 vote, the majority issued an emergency injunction in favor of the college – a decision that put the second phase of the mandate fight in the spotlight.

While the injunction doesn’t mean that the justices would necessarily strike the mandate down for religious non-profits, it does suggest that they see through the Administration’s money-shuffling sham. “Anything that forces unwilling religious believers to be part of the system is not going to pass the test,” said Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

In the meantime, faith-based groups have some company in the mandate’s disgruntled camp. This non-existent firewall isn’t just offensive – it’s expensive. As one expert explains, “There was no budget money set aside for this. There’s certainly no money that is part of the Affordable Care Act appropriations. I can see why the third-party administrators would be concerned.”

The Washington Post puts it this way: “It’s a complex solution that hasn’t worked in the real world, said the third-party administrators … providing the birth-control benefit, because the government hasn’t figured out how to pay them back.” In other words, the President’s “solution” is putting these go-betweens on the hook for pills and procedures that even the government isn’t prepared to cover. Since the accounting gimmick was introduced, none of US’s 300 TPAs (third parties) has “found an insurer willing to join with it.” And no wonder! The costs, [Bloomberg News writer] Alex Wayne points out, could run “in the millions of dollars.”

Meanwhile, women aren’t exactly suffering from a lack of contraception and abortifacients. A new report just released found that the rate of insured women who got free birth control soared to 56% last year from just 14% in 2012. So if there is a “war on women,” it’s on women with religious beliefs, who seem to be the only ones hurting under the law.