Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News July 29, 2009
Cleaver, Clay, Carnahan Vote for $$$
for Planned Parenthood
Missouri Congressmen Emmanuel Cleaver, Russ Carnahan, and William "Lacy" Clay have voted to continue to provide federal taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood.  The three Representatives
voted against an amendment offered by Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana which would have prohibited federal "family planning" dollars from being made available to Planned Parenthood under Title X of the Public Health Services Act.  Pence's amendment was defeated by a vote of 247-183.  Congressmen Akin, Blunt, Graves, Luetkemeyer, Skelton, and Congresswoman Emerson voted to strip Planned Parenthood of taxpayer funding.  Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, said, "It makes no sense for the federal government to spend millions of dollars killing millions of future taxpayers.  Planned Parenthood is leeching off our impoverished economy while raking in money hand over fist."  Planned Parenthood performs more than 300,000 abortions each year, and receives annually more than $350 million in government grants and contracts.  The organization has recently been in the news for allegedly sordid tactics designed to circumvent state laws against statutory rape and parental notification and consent.  While the Pence Amendment failed, the vote count was actually encouraging.  First of all, it shows that Planned Parenthood is no longer viewed as politically untouchable.  It also shows that in a more conservative Congress, prospects for turning off the federal spigot to Planned Parenthood are within reach.
You can let your congressional representative know what you think of their vote on this issue by clicking this link:
Health Care Conscience Rights Under Attack
One of the major issues hanging in the balance with President Obama's proposed federal health care legislation is the conscience rights of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers.  Shortly before leaving office, President Bush implemented new federal regulations governing health care providers and professionals.  The
new federal rules stipulated that health care workers could not be discriminated against for declining to participate in morally objectionable procedures or refusing to prescribe morally objectionable medications.  President Obama has expressed his intentions to repeal the regulations.  His health care legislation could remove these conscience protections as a matter of law.  
In just the last few months, a nurse in New York was forced to participate against her will in the abortion of an unborn child of 22 weeks gestation.  Catherine Cenzon-DeCarlo was told that she could lose her job and her nursing license if she didn't cooperate. She says she has experienced gruesome nightmares and hasn't been able to sleep since the incident.
A group of organizations, 
spearheaded by the Christian Medical Society, has banded together to oppose the elimination of conscience protections.  They oppose any federal mandates which would compel doctors, nurses, and others to choose between violating ethical commitments or leaving the practice of medicine.  They further demand the freedom to care for patients according to "patient-protecting principles" like the Hippocratic Oath and other longstanding standards of medical ethics.
The Freedom2Care coalition has a website where you can send a message to the President and federal officials that you support the preservation of health care conscience rights.  You can access the site by clicking this link:
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Federal Court Bans Bible Distribution in Missouri School District
A federal appeals court has ruled that a school district in southern Missouri may not allow the distribution of Bibles on school property during the school day.  However, the court also ruled that policies may be developed which would allow Bibles to be distributed during after-school hours.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision by U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry which struck down policies of the South Iron School District in Iron County, Missouri.  For many years, school officials had permitted representatives of Gideon's International to distribute Bibles to fifth grade students in the classroom during the school day. 
A group of parents complained that the practice violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.  They were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.  The ACLU claimed that the school was being used as a "religious recruiting ground," and that the school district "should leave religious training to parents and students." 
The school district adopted a new general policy allowing the distribution of literature or materials in certain areas outside the classroom before or after the school day, before or after classes, or during lunch time.  Under the policy, the Superintendent could refuse to allow dissemination of obscene, unlawful, or disruptive material, but clearly Bible distribution would have been permitted under this new policy.
Judge Perry issued a permanent injunction forbidding the "distribution of Bibles to elementary school children on school property at any time during the school day."  She concluded that both the old and new policy violated the Establishment Clause because their purpose was "the promotion of Christianity", and that their primary message was "advancing religion by conveying a message of endorsement to elementary school children."
The Appeals Court agreed with Perry and upheld the permanent injunction.  However, it also suggested that a different policy for Bible distribution in school could be constitutional. 
"The injunction does not address, and therefore does not categorically prohibit, others ways in which the District might, in a neutral manner, facilitate Bible distribution by private parties, such as the distribution of flyers advertising off-campus or after-school distributions."
The Appeals Court stated that the establishment of a genuine "public forum" is permissible on school property in certain circumstances, where literature could be distributed by any individual or group without discrimination.  The Court pointed out that the First Amendment limits the government's authority to impose content-related restrictions on private speakers in such a public forum.  The Court declared that South Iron School District officials "must remain free to experiment in good faith with new policies" to establish a proper public forum.
The reasoning of the Eighth Circuit judges is consistent with U.S. Supreme Court "equal access" decisions.  In those decisions the High Court has ruled that religious groups must have access to school district facilities so long as any non-religious group is permitted to do so, under principles of equal access.
Liberty Counsel defended the school district in the lawsuit.  Matt Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel and the Dean of the Liberty University School of Law, hailed the ultimate outcome of the decision.
"We are pleased that a new equal access policy can finally go into effect.  The Bible cannot be singled out for special penalties like contraband.  The Founders never envisioned open hostility toward religious viewpoints."    
This entire episode illustrates once more the critical importance of adopting a religious freedom constitutional amendment in Missouri.  Such an amendment would clarify the free exercise rights of Missouri citizens and schoolchildren, and correct the false information regularly being supplied to school districts by the ACLU and other anti-Christian organizations.  Such legislation has been adopted by the Missouri House in two consecutive sessions, but has yet to win approval by the Missouri Senate.
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