CHECK IT OUT: Kristan Hawkins’ free speech op-ed on Fox News

The uproar over Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to leave the Colts-49ers game after some NFL players took a knee during the national anthem again highlights the intense cultural debate over free speech that seems of utmost importance to the media and activists. Yet not all “speech” is treated as equal in coverage and attention.

Over the last few weeks, the free speech rights of students on college campuses have been violated as peaceful chalk messages from students have been destroyed, flyers pulled down and permits for new pro-life groups and speakers slow walked through the approval process to prevent voices from being heard. If you haven’t heard about the college blockade taking place even this week, perhaps it is because the students whose voices are being forcibly silenced favor life over abortion. And while they may not get the attention that millionaire athletes can garner, their points of view are no less valid.

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Students for Life Calls Changes to Healthcare Mandate “a choice that shows respect for all Americans”

“It should surprise no one that the abortion lobby pushed to force Americans to pay for their deadly drugs and services, but it’s un-American for taxpayers to be forced in to court to enjoy their Freedom of Religion,” said SFLA’s Kristan Hawkins.

WASHINGTON D.C. (10-06-17) – Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins praised the Trump Administration for changes to the mandates attached to the Affordable Care Act, calling it “a choice that shows respect for all Americans.”

Hawkins made the following statement: “The Obama Administration wrote the healthcare mandates with the help of the abortion industry, deliberately forcing people of faith to subsidize drugs some find morally objectionable. Even more offensive, they also mislabeled drugs that end life as ‘contraception’ and forced funding for them, too. That fact that nuns had to go to court to fight for their Constitutional right to freedom of religion when it comes to the contraceptive mandate shows just how broken the Obamacare mandates were.

“The Trump Administration also addressed the stealth abortion coverage in some of the qualified health plans by separating abortion, which is not healthcare, from the core list of things covered. Now, Americans will be informed if a plan they choose has abortion coverage in it, and they will need to pay separately for that coverage. Tax dollars will not be spent providing abortion coverage that people may not even know that they have in their plan.

“Students for Life thanks President Trump for following through on his promises to address the injustice created by the mandates in Obamacare. It should surprise no one that the abortion lobby pushed to force Americans to pay for their deadly drugs and services, but it’s un-American for taxpayers to be forced in to court to enjoy their Freedom of Religion. Still, fixing the healthcare law is just step one. No taxpayer dollars should go to abortionists, like those at Planned Parenthood, which is still raking in more than half-a-BILLION dollars a year in taxpayer monies. Planned Parenthood must be defunded – whether through changes in the healthcare law, in the tax proposal, or any other bill that legislators want to introduce.”

Texas Pro-life Bill Seeks More Accountability from Abortion Providers

baby-in-wombTighter regulations on abortion providers and ending abortion at 20 weeks are some of the highlights of Senate Bill 5 (SB5) in the Texas legislature. Last week, pro-abortion Senator Wendy Davis filibustered SB5 for 13 hours, which contributed to the bill not being passed before the midnight deadline.Because there are stringent restrictions on filibustering, such as not using the restroom during the filibuster, Senator Davis resorted to using a catheter she had inserted prior to her floor speech. This action shows the desperation that exists among pro-abortion advocates to protect their right to kill innocent babies in the womb. As a result, Governor Rick Perry has reconvened the legislature for a special session to take up SB 5 again.

Here are the Facts: Senate Bill 5 will raise standards of care for women who are pregnant and protect the lives of the preborn who feel pain, by banning abortions at 20 weeks. SB 5 also requires the same health and safety regulations as an ambulatory surgical center, requires a doctor providing abortions to secure admitting privileges at a nearby hospital within 30 miles and requires a doctor to personally administer abortion-inducing drugs to the patient.

While SB 5  is not perfect legislation because it still allows for abortions up to 20 weeks and has an exception for rape and incest, it still represents the most restrictive piece of legislation offered by any state.

If you would like to have your voice heard on SB 5, please join us for an on-line tweetfest on Tuesday at 12PM EST. #Stand4Life

ACLU Files Lawsuit Challenging Arkansas Law Barring Abortions When Heartbeat Detected

baby2Little Rock, Arkansas – The ACLU of Arkansas has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two abortionists in the state in an effort to overturn a new law that bans abortions past twelve weeks when a heartbeat is detected.

As previously reported, legislators in the state voted to override Governor Mike Beebe’s veto of the Human Heartbeat Protection Act last month, setting it up to become Arkansas law. The Act requires that women obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion, and if a heartbeat is detected past twelve weeks, the abortion may not proceed. Abortionists who violate the law may have their license revoked.

Following the vote, the ACLU of Arkansas threatened to file a lawsuit, and on Tuesday, it followed through with the threat. It sued the state medical board, asking the court to act quickly to prevent “irreparable harm” to abortionists and abortion-minded mothers.

“In violation of over forty years of settled United States Supreme Court precedent, the Act bans abortion care starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy, threatening the rights, liberty, and well-being of Arkansas women and their families,” the suit states. “Flouting the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Act violates the right to be free from unwarranted intrusion by politicians into matters so fundamentally affecting the course of a woman’s life as the decision whether and when to have a child, and whether or not to carry a previable pregnancy to term.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of abortionists Louis Jerry Edwards and Tom Tvedten, who work at Little Rock Family Planning Clinic in the state capital. The men assert that 20 percent of abortions occur after 12 weeks.

“The Act will prohibit most of these post-12 week, previability abortions. Absent an injunction, plaintiffs will have no choice but to turn away patients in need of abortion care,” the legal challenge continues. “The constitutional rights of Arkansas women would suffer irreparably, as would their well-being and dignity.”

Edwards and Tvedten are seeking a federal injunction, as well as declaratory judgment that the statute is unconstitutional.

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HHS accommodation: Choose between God and Mammon

By Shauna Segadeli, Law Student

On Friday the Department of Health and Human Services announced an amendment to its rules concerning the religious exemption for employers requiring the provision of health insurance that covers contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization.

Last February, HHS established a one-year “safe harbor” for certain nonprofit organizations that have religious objections to contraception coverage that ends in August 2013.  HHS committed to a period of rulemaking during this “safe harbor” in order “to provide women with contraceptive coverage without cost sharing as required by [the] Act, while protecting certain additional organizations from having to contract, arrange, pay, or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds.”

The previous version of the accommodation determined a religious employer’s eligibility based on four requirements: “a religious employer is one that: (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 nonprofit organization… [including] churches,” etc.

Faith-driven employers were confronted with a serious problem  if their ministries reached beyond the scope of that definition.   What about a religious employer who serves its community in more ways than spreading its religious values, like a church-managed soup kitchen?

What about a religious employer who hires employees without regard to their religious affiliations, like a parochial school?

What about a religious employer who feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and visits the imprisoned of all creeds?

What about a religious employer whose faith inspires its business practices, like Hobby Lobby?

The amended definition of a religious employer “eliminat[es] the first three prongs of the definition and clarif[ies] the application of the fourth.”  Church soup kitchens, parochial schools, and religiously-affiliated charities are off the hook.

No such good news for family businesss Hobby Lobby, however, who will face fines of $1.4 million per day for refusing to comply with the mandate rather than violate its conscience.  Per the last requirement standing, “an organization is not considered to be organized and operated as a nonprofit entity if its assets or income accrue to the benefit of private individuals or shareholders.”

A second accommodation is made for religious institutions of higher education with religious objections to coverage of “contraceptive services.”

The exempt organizations’ and schools’ employees and students will still get insurance coverage for “contraceptive services without cost sharing,” as the regulations put it, but these services won’t be paid for by the exempt employers.

What?  Who is footing the bill then?  Only in Planned Parenthood’s dreams does Plan B fall out of the sky.

This new amendment is the fruit offering of the one-year rulemaking period.  It’s supposed to be a compromise.  IF (that’s a big “if”) the amendment walks the way it talks, and really does exempt religious non-profits from providing insurance that covers contraception, abortive pills, and sterilization, then I must admit that this accommodation is one small step for religious freedom.

The footprint: this accommodation will take some serious legal heat off of the Obama administration and the Department of Health and Human Services.  Forget the enormous lawsuits (and headlines) of the University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Charities; this, of course, at the expense of for-profit religious employers, the faith-driven job creators whose convictions guide them in the marketplace.

These lawsuits basically challenge the HHS mandate to provide contraceptive services under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free religious exercise, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  RFRA requires that any governmentally-imposed, substantial burden on religious exercise be justified by compelling government interests, as well as be the least restrictive means to achieve those interests.

According to the American Center for Law and Justice, eleven federal courts have already granted injunctions to for-profit business owners, finding that the owners have a strong likelihood of succeeding on their claims that the mandate violates RFRA.  A handful of courts have dismissed similar lawsuits because HHS regulations had not yet been finalized, without adjudicating on the merits of the claims.

No “religious exemption” is complete that does not include all employers with religious objections to contraceptive coverage.  Alan Sears, President of the Alliance Defending Freedom, said it best: “Religious leaders and their organizations cannot be bought off with personal immunity, in exchange for abandoning their fellow believers and their own flocks to federal subjugation of their freedoms”(as quoted in press release).

Another take-away from this play by the administration: The definition of “contraceptive services” is slyly suggestive of the “conservative War on Women” rhetoric.  The “contraceptive services” that pro-life employers are required by the Affordable Care Act to provide include sterilization procedures, as well as all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, among which are post-coital contraceptives that can act as abortifacients, such as ella and Plan B.

You know, “women’s preventive care.”

A broad range of faith traditions reject abortive drugs as immoral, while Catholics alone reject artificial contraception in the strict, pregnancy-prevention sense of the term.  By endowing abortive drugs and sterilization with the misleading label of “contraceptive services,” the administration paints religious objections as more extreme than average Americans are  willing to entertain: a public majority opposes abortion, but few people oppose widespread availability of the Pill.

This move is a painstaking attempt by the administration to appear receptive to religious objectors’ concerns, without reactively budging from its insistence on contraception, abortive pills, and sterilization for all.

As Helen Alvare puts it, “[The administration’s] desperation to get contraception, early abortifacients and sterilization into the hands of every woman and girl would be comical if they weren’t in such deadly earnest. These new regulations are very long and very convoluted and very intent on exempting the fewest folks possible.”

As the law stands, it’s fine to reject coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures if you are a church, but not if you are a church-going business owner.

I must have missed the First Amendment’s footnote: *Freedom of religious exercise not extended to lay people.  Further, non-religious pro-life organizations have no avenue for exemption from providing life-ending drugs for employees.  Employers with religious objections to providing such “preventive care” have a simple choice: follow profit or follow conscience?

Anti-abortion group files lawsuit against OSU

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — An anti-abortion group has filed a federal lawsuit against Oklahoma State University after officials said the group couldn’t distribute leaflets with graphic images on campus.

Cowboys for Life filed the lawsuit Friday. The group is asking a federal judge to declare invalid OSU’s facility use policy, which dictates how and when groups can use university facilities.

The lawsuit alleges that OSU refused to allow the group to display graphic images on signs and leaflets in heavily trafficked areas of campus.

OSU spokesman Gary Shutt tells The Oklahoman ( ) that university officials have not yet seen the lawsuit.

OSU’s facilities use policy allows university officials to limit expressive demonstrations in order to avoid disruption, to prevent scheduling two events in the same place at once or to protect the public order.

Judge Dismisses Obama Admin Lawsuit Harassing Pro-Lifer

In a legal victory, a judge has stopped the Obama administration from targeting a peaceful pro-life advocate helping provide abortion alternatives to women heading to an abortion facility in Louisville, Kentucky. In January 2010, David Hamilton was peacefully and lawfully handing literature to women entering EMW Surgical Center, an abortion clinic. He was not only interfered with illegally by abortion facility volunteers who locked arms to block him from talking to women, but he faced legal action from the Obama administration. The Department of Justice prosecuted him for allegedly assaulting a volunteer who actually assaulted him. The “escort” attempted to forcibly block Hamilton to prevent him from sharing literature with women entering the clinic that explained other options to them. Over a year after the date of the incident, rather than serving the clinic volunteer with a legal complaint for the illegal conduct, the Department of Justice served Hamilton with a legal complaint, alleging that he violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life legal group, stepped in to provide Hamilton with legal support in court. The Obama administration lawsuit sought a $15,000 penalty and $5,000 in compensatory damages. Read More

They Said No

Written by: Alliance Defending Freedom

Nurses in a big city hospital never know what a day’s shift will bring – straightforward cases or medical miracles, major crises or minor first aid. Whatever her station, whatever the duty of the moment, a nurse tries to ready herself for anything. But some things, you just can’t see coming.

It was Beryl Otieno Ngoje’s turn to work the desk in the Same Day Surgery Unit at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), in Newark. She was busy with the usual administrative duties – filing charts, handing out forms to the patients, answering visitors’ questions – when another nurse hurried up beside her.

“Oh, something just happened, you won’t believe it,” the woman said, visibly excited. “I have it in my hand.” She held up a clenched fist, palm up. “I have it in my hand,” she said again.

“What do you have in your hand?” Beryl asked, bemused at the woman’s demeanor.

“Do you want to see?”

“Yes,” Beryl said – and instantly regretted it.

The other nurse opened her hand to reveal the tiny, tiny form of a baby, just aborted.

Read More Here 


Liberty University’s Litigation Against Health Care Bill will be Reconsidered

After being dismissed from court in June 2012, Liberty University’s lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s health care law will be reconsidered in the fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., according to a Supreme Court announcement Monday, Nov. 26.

Liberty filed a petition for rehearing, challenging the mandates for individuals and employers found in the bill and also raising the Free Exercise of Religion defense stated in the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“It is very rare to have the court reverse itself, but on Monday it reversed its own ruling and directed our case to be reheard at the court of appeals,” Mathew Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said. “This is a major victory and breathes new life into our challenge to ObamaCare.”

When President Obama signed ObamaCare into law March 23, 2010, Liberty University filed a lawsuit against the new bill. This was the first private suit in the country. Staver and Liberty Counsel filed the suit on behalf of Liberty and other private individuals.

“Originally, the court of appeals did not reach the merits but instead ruled that the federal Anti-Injunction Act (AIA) barred the court from ruling on the case,” Staver said.

The AIA requires that if the law imposes a tax, the tax must first be paid before the suit can be filed, which in this case would have been after 2014. However, Liberty Counsel petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, and the first of the three days of oral arguments dealt with their case, Liberty University v. Geithner. The Supreme Court ruled in their favor but then dismissed the case in June 2012.

There are three main arguments supporting the case. The first is the challenge to the employer mandate for all employers, religious and secular.

“If we win this challenge, ObamaCare will be disabled,” Staver said.

The second focuses on the constitutionality of the law under the First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because it forces religious employers to fund abortion.

“ObamaCare is a significant infringement on liberty,” Staver said. “It also violates our free exercise of religion and rights of conscience by forcing people to fund abortion.”

The third argument challenges the individual mandate on the same basis as the employer mandate because it too requires individuals to fund abortion.

“If you abide by your conscience and refuse to fund the murder of innocent unborn children, you violate ObamaCare and will be fined,” Staver said. “In Liberty’s case, the fines will be in the millions of dollars. If you abide by ObamaCare, you violate your conscience.”

Because of the media currently focusing on this issue, Liberty has been featured in top news stories around the country.

“We have received emails and phone calls from around the country and the world, thanking Liberty University for taking on this challenge,” Staver said.

Liberty Counsel will soon receive a briefing schedule from the court of appeals and file their briefs. They expect discussion to take place after the new year with a decision being made in spring 2013.

“We could be back before the Supreme Court in the fall of 2013,” Staver said.

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World Health Organization: better a risky abortion than an unplanned child

By Shauna Segadelli, Law Student for Life

Ban all limits to abortion.  Make abortion legal, “safe,” and accessible to all women, regardless of age, parental consent, or length of pregnancy.  That is the World Health Organization’s policy recommendation, advocated in its 2012 edition of “Safe Abortion: Technical and policy guidance for health systems.”

This advice is based on the assertion that having an abortion is safer than undergoing childbirth.  Even a risky abortion, the subtext screams.  “The implications of unwanted births are not well studied, but the effects can be harmful and long-lasting for women and for those who are born unwanted.”  The “effects” of unwanted births meaning children’s lives.  In 134 pages, the guide is completely devoid of any reference to the unborn child as a human life, preferring instead to refer to unwanted “products of conception” and the steps necessary to ensure “fetal demise.”

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) responded to the WHO guidelines with a critical report, “Eleven Problems with the WHO Technical Guidance on Abortion”: “A primary concern is the WHO seems to be recommending abortion practices for women in developing countries that have been rejected by medical experts in the developed world.  WHO bases its promotion of the revised guidelines on claims that abortion is both safer than childbirth and also a human right, neither of which enjoys international agreement.”

The guide seeks “to demedicalize abortion care” so that women in underdeveloped countries can have access to abortion, forgoing the accepted medical standards of Western countries so that untrained practitioners can meet the demand.  WHO abuses its place as standard-bearer for medical research and best practices.  As C-FAM’s report puts it, the guide “provides legal cover for insufficiently skilled practitioners or those working in impoverished regions in need of better general health care infrastructure.”

The problems with WHO’s guidelines, detailed by C-FAM, include ignoring research pointing to adverse health side-effects in post-abortive women, burying both high failed abortion rates and the dangers of failed abortion, assuming that health facilities are available to treat complications in case of emergency, recommending disposal of the child’s body in a sewer or latrine, and failing to recommend ultrasound, follow-up care, or drugs that have become standard in medical practice.

WHO claims a human rights-based approach to women’s health in the document: “Laws and policies on abortion should protect women’s health and their human rights. Regulatory, policy and programmatic barriers that hinder access to and timely provision of safe abortion care should be removed.”  But abortion has never been accepted by the UN General Assembly as a human right.

In this matter, WHO urges developing nations, where abortion is a “privilege” for the wealthy, to follow the lead of their Western counterparts.  “In nearly all developed countries, safe abortions are legally available upon request or under broad social and economic grounds, and services are generally easily accessible and available.”  If abortion on-demand is the law of the U.S., why not everywhere?