Monday, August 18, 2008

Pray for this child

A woman in Israel had an abortion at 5 months on a doctor's instruction that the child was showing no signs of life after the mother's bleeding. Hours after she was delivered and placed in a freezer the baby girl moved and opened her mouth just as she was being taken to be buried. She is still in neonatal intensive care right now.

I realize this is a blog for religious freedom and life issues and that thoughts about those issues are impossible to avoid in connection with this story. And that's a shame. I long for a world where there is no perceived political axe to grind in simply praying for the survival of this little girl.

California High Court Holds Physicians Subject to Unruh Act Despite Religious Objections

Today, the California Supreme Court held that the First Amendment rights of free exercise of religion and free speech do not exempt doctors from complying with the Unruh Act's prohibition on sexual orientation discrimination. A copy of the opinion can be found here.

For anyone interested, the Center filed an amicus brief in the case.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

HHS Secretary Leavitt Blogs on Medical Professionals' Conscience Rights, Possible Regulatory Protections

A couple of weeks ago, Greg blogged about a New York Times article describing a leaked proposed rule from inside the Department of Health and Human Services. The rule, if adopted, would protect require recipients of federal funds to certify in writing that they adhere to the three federal statutes prohibiting discrimination against healthcare workers who refuse to perform abortions.

On August 9, Secretary Leavitt posted an entry on his blog explaining that the draft regulation would not, as the abortion lobby would like to frighten people into believing, "define contraception as abortion." He explained:

"The Bush Administration has consistently supported the unborn. However, the issue I asked to be addressed in this regulation is not abortion or contraceptives, but the legal right medical practitioners have to practice according to their conscience and patients should be able to choose a doctor who has beliefs like his or hers."

Today he has posted a new entry noting that "with the help of Planned Parenthood, my blog -- for the first time -- received more visits than my teenage son’s MySpace page." He goes on to explain that he did find one comment from Mary Gallagher, President of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Ass'n, helpful. Ms. Gallagher said that IF the regulation is adopted, medical professionals "get to pick and choose what they want to do." Secretary Leavitt responded:

"So, according to Ms. Gallagher’s ideology, if a person goes to medical school they lose their right of conscience. Freedom of expression and action is surrendered with the issuance of a medical degree.

There is something I’d like to point out to Ms Gallagher and the people she represents. It is currently a violation of three separate federal laws to compel medical practitioners to perform a procedure that violates their conscience.

Obviously, some disagree with the federal law and would have it otherwise, so they have begun using the accreditation standards of physician professional organizations to define the exercise of conscience unprofessional and thereby make doctors choose between their capacity to practice in good standing and their right of conscience. In my view, that is simply unfair and a clear effort to subvert the law in favor of their ideology.

This is not a discussion about the rights of a woman to get an abortion. The courts have long ago identified that right and continue to define its limits. This regulation would not be aimed at changing or redefining any of that. This is about the right of a doctor to not participate if he or she chooses for reasons they consider a matter of conscience. Does the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association believe we can protect by Constitution, statute and practice rights of free speech, race, religion, and abortion—but not conscience?

Is the fear here that so many doctors will refuse that it will somehow make it difficult for a woman to get an abortion? That hasn’t happened, but what if it did? Wouldn’t that be an important and legitimate social statement?

I want to reiterate. If the Department of Health and Human Services issues a regulation on this matter, it will aim at one thing, protecting the right of conscience of those who practice medicine. From what I’ve read the last few days, there’s a serious need for it."

Exactly. I encourage you to go to Secretary Leavitt's blog and urge the Secretary to issue the proposed regulation protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals. Were there any doubt that it is necessary to remind abortion advocacy groups receiving federal grants that they cannot force medical professionals to perform abortions against their conscience, the abortion lobby's own reaction to these draft regulations eliminates those doubts.

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Colorado officials failed to keep faith with Constitution"

Quin Hillyer writes a substantial opinion piece on the CCU v. Weaver decision in today's edition of The Examiner.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

CCU v. Weaver victory featured in DOJ Religious Freedom in Focus

The Department of Justice's July/August issue of Religious Freedom in Focus highlights the Center's victory in CCU v. Weaver as well as the DOJ's amicus brief in favor of CCU.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

State announces that it will not appeal Tenth Circuit decision in Colorado Christian University v. Weaver

In a press release the Colorado Department of Higher Education announced that the Colorado Commission on Higher Education will not appeal the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal's decision in Colorado Christian University v. Weaver. The 10th Circuit ruled that the state's exclusion of CCU students from financial aid because of the school's religious identity was unconstitutional.

From the press release:

Colorado Solicitor General Dan Domenico, who argued the State's case, remarked, "As we were obliged to do, we presented the strongest case we could to the court. The court has now made clear, though, that Colorado's law is outdated and must be changed. We are glad that the CCHE has agreed with our recommendation not to ask the Supreme Court to overturn this decision, and we look forward to working with interested parties to craft a solution that complies with the court's decision."

Also see the August 1 Rocky Mountain News story covering the state's announcement.

Beta Upsilon Chi victory on Focus on the Family radio

Today's edition of Focus on the Family's Family News in Focus features a segment on the Beta Upsilon Chi victory with comments from BYX board member Chuck James and CLS Center attorney Isaac Fong. Stream the audio here in the embedded Flash player today on a time-sensitive link that expires tonight, or download the August 5, 2008 show. The BYX segment begins at 3:38 and ends at 5:16.

UPDATE: Here is a partial transcript of the segment.

Another Editorial Applauding 10th Circuit Decision in CCU Case

A house editorial in Pennsylvania's Reading Eagle applauds the Tenth Circuit's decision in the CCU case.

Third Circuit Strikes Down Temple U's Speech Code

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has struck down Temple University's speech code. (DeJohn v. Temple University).

Christian Legal Society joined an amicus brief urging the court to reach that conclusion.

Congratulations to Nate Kellum and the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the successful plaintiff.

Friday, August 1, 2008

More BYX coverage in FL newspaper

Gainesville Sun - Appeals court: UF must recognize Christian-only frat