Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News August 31, 2009
Pro-Life Pharmacists
Win Victory in Illinois Court
An Illinois state court has issued a decision which supports the conscience rights of pharmacy owners in that state.  Judge John Belz has issued a temporary injunction banning enforcement of regulations implemented by former Governor Rod Blagojevich.  The Governor had ordered all pharmacies in the state to dispense Plan B, better known as the "morning-after pill," even if it violated the conscience rights of pharmacists.  Judge Belz ruled that the pharmacists "are suffering irreparable harm in the form of an ongoing chill of their free exercise rights and rights of conscience...as well as unlawful coercion based on their religious and moral beliefs."  The Missouri Legislature attempted to address the issue of pharmacist conscience rights in the last session.  The Missouri House approved a conscience protection bill for pharmacy owners, but it failed to win approval in the Missouri Senate.
Court Clears Charge Against Pro-Life Counselor
A municipal court in Overland Park, Kansas, has dismissed charges against a pro-life sidewalk counselor.  Carrie Kafka was arrested for criminal trespass for distributing literature outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park.  Yet video evidence showed that Kafka never entered private property and never prevented vehicles from entering or leaving the parking lot.  The city claimed that a police officer had issued an order to Kafka to cease her activities.  Yet the officer stated in court that he observed no wrongdoing by Kafka and had not ordered her to stop distributing literature.  Kafka was represented by Daniel Blomberg of the Alliance Defense Fund.  "Pro-life advocates shouldn't be arrested on trumped-up charges and denied their free speech rights," Blomberg says.  "We are pleased that the court dismissed the charges so Ms. Kafka can once again exercise her First Amendment rights."  
for Life Scores Federal Health Care Plan 
As the debate continues to swirl concerning President Obama's federal health care proposal, Christian families continue to consider an appropriate response.  Doug Merkey of Churches for Life has prepared an excellent analysis called "What Does God Think About America's Health Care Debate?'  While Merkey says the goal of the health care plan may be commendable in seeking social justice for all people, the brand of justice it is seeking is "riddled with evil."  He says it is right and reasonable for Christians to graciously oppose the health care proposal because it violates God's mandates for civil government.  You can read Merkey's article by clicking this link:
Say Thank You to Governor Nixon
We reported last week that Governor Jay Nixon sided with pro-life interests in maintaining full funding for the Alternatives to Abortion Program.  Nixon declined suggestions to make cuts in the program in order to achieve reductions necessary to balance the state budget.  You can express your thanks to the Governor for supporting the life-saving benefits of this program by contacting him through this link:
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Federal Court Upholds Strong Informed Consent Law on Abortion
A federal judge has upheld a South Dakota law that requires that abortion clinics inform women of the humanity of the unborn child.
U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier has ruled that major portions of an informed consent law passed by the South Dakota Legislature in 2005 are constitutional.  The statute required that women be informed that abortion "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."  Judge Schreier ruled that an abortionist must inform women of this fact before proceeding with abortions.
Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, hailed the decision.  "This is a victory for women and their right to complete and accurate medical information when considering abortion.  Fully informed consent is a bedrock principle of medical care and this principle is especially applicable to abortion.
The federal court's endorsement of the language is of significance to Missouri.  Informed consent bills being considered by the Missouri Legislature the last two years, and promoted by the Missouri Family Policy Council, have included similar language.
Judge Schrier struck down other disclosures required under the South Dakota law.  One would have required that women be told they "have an existing relationship" with their unborn child which is protected under the law.  The judge ruled that there is no such legal relationship because unborn children are not considered "persons" under the law.
Another provision of the statute would have informed women that a risk factor of abortion is an increased incidence of suicide.  The judge declared that information "untruthful and misleading."
However, studies have shown that abortion increases the likelihood that a woman will consider suicide.  Research conducted by the Eliot Institute found that women who had abortions were seven times more likely to consider suicide than women who give birth.
Judge Schrier had previously issued a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the new informed consent law as a result of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.  But the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals last June overruled the judge's decision, dissolved the injunction, and returned the case to her for further review.  The Appeals Court determined that Planned Parenthood was unlikely to prevail on the merits in its legal arguments.
Steven Aden, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, called the overall decision a major step forward in providing legal protection for the unborn.
"A woman's life is worth more than Planned Parenthood's bottom line," he said.  "We agree with the decision of the court to allow...women to be informed of the indisputable fact that her baby is a human being."
The South Dakoka decision provides further impetus for the adoption of stronger informed consent provisions in Missouri law.  Missouri's current informed consent statute is ineffective and does not stipulate that specific factual information be shared with women contemplating abortion.  Missouri has also failed to follow the lead of other pro-life states in requiring that abortion-minded women be given the opportunity to view an ultrasound of their child. 
During the recent legislative session, both the Missouri House and Senate adopted bills to ensure that women receive comprehensive information concerning the nature, risks, and alternatives to abortion.  Unfortunately, the House and Senate were unable to come to terms on the language of a final bill before the Legislature adjourned.
The Missouri Family Policy Council will be working with pro-life legislators to pass stronger informed consent legislation in the coming session.
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