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Missouri Family E-NewsJuly 12, 2011


Christian Doctors Call for Return of Conscience Protections

The nation's leading Christian medical organization is calling on the Obama administration to restore conscience protections for medical personnel with pro-life convictions.


The Christian Medical Association has forwarded a petition to the White House signed by over 61,000 health care workers demanding that President Obama uphold and enforce conscience rights for medical professionals.


The Obama Administration acted in February to revoke medical provider conscience regulations implemented in the waning months of the Bush Administration.  Those regulations provided legal protections to health care employees who have moral or religious objections to certain medical procedures or the administration of certain drugs.


The federal Department of Health and Human Services issued new regulations eliminating protections for doctors , nurses, and pharmacists who object to the dispensing of Plan B and other forms of so-called "emergency contraception" that function as abortifacients.


"Weakening conscience rights threatens to eliminate vast numbers of life-affirming, conscientious, and compassionate health care professionals from medicine...Removing these conscience protections thus risks severe shortages of health care access,"  wrote Dr. David Stevens, President of the Christian Medical Association.


"The gutting of the [conscience] regulation threatens the health care access of the many life-affirming patients who value the freedom to choose professionals who share their moral values.  I urge you to consider the voices and values of these many Americans," Stevens added.


The position of the Obama Administration is clearly at odds with the overwhelming sentiment of the American public.  A survey commissioned by the Christian Medical Association found that 77% of Americans believe it is important "to make sure that health care professionals are not forced to participate in procedures or practices to which they have moral objections." 


The regulations previously adopted by the Bush Administration were intended to clarify a federal law known as the Church Amendment.  That law prohibited any health service program or activity receiving federal funds from forcing an individual to participate in any medical capacity that violates their religious beliefs or moral convictions.  The Church Amendment has been mostly ignored and rarely enforced.


The need for strong conscience protections was illustrated by the recent case of a pro-life nurse in New York.   Catherine Cenzon-DeCarlo was forced under threat of termination to participate in an elective late-term abortion.  A federal court recently ruled that Mt. Sinai Hospital did not violate DeCarlo's conscience rights.



Study:  Abortions Increase Rate of Prematurity



LifeNews reports that yet another study has been released showing an increased incidence of premature births in women who have had prior abortions.


A group of researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom evaluated more than 1 million pregnancies in Scotland over a period of twenty-six years.  They found that women who had a prior abortion had a 34% increased risk of a premature birth. 


The researchers concluded that one of every ten women who have had a prior abortion are likely to experience a premature birth in any subsequent pregnancy.   The study also concluded that women who have had a prior abortion are more likely to have stillborn children and pre-eclampsia.


Josephine Quintaville of the Pro-Life Alliance says that the study deserves a response from the medical community.  "This is the most compelling evidence to date of the health impact of abortion on future pregnancies.  Whatever one's position on the ethics of abortion, it is more than obvious that alerting patients to the very real and incremental risks of future miscarriage should now be an essential part of informed consent protocols."


Peter Saunders, head of the Christian Medical Fellowship of the United Kingdom, says the information is nothing new.  "There are actually at least 119 articles in the world literature already attesting to the association between abortion and premature birth.  I wonder how long it will be before the first mother with a prior abortion brings a case against a doctor for not being told that she was at increased risk of having a premature baby.  Especially if that baby suffers one of the more severe and expensive complications of prematurity."


The results of the study, one of the largest ever conducted, were presented at the recent annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.




ACLU Files Suit to Block Vote on Religious Liberty Amendment



The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit seeking to block a statewide vote on the proposed religious liberty amendment to Missouri's Constitution.  The ACLU has filed a legal challenge to the ballot summary for the religious freedom amendment which will be decided by Missouri voters next year.  The religious liberty amendment clarifies the rights of Missouri citizens and schoolchildren to pray and acknowledge God in public settings and on public property.


The suit was filed by the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, the ACLU Foundation of Kansas and Western Missouri, and the national ACLU Foundation.  The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Madeline Coburn, who is a United Methodist minister engaged in prison ministry, and Brenda Bredemeier, an associate professor in the Division of Teaching and Learning at the University of Missouri- St. Louis.   Bredemeier served for many years as a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.


The plaintiffs are asking a circuit court judge in Cole County to prohibit the Secretary of State from placing the issue on the 2012 ballot, or in the alternative, asking the judge to rewrite the ballot language to reflect their erroneous interpretation of the amendment.


The ACLU is clearly most concerned about a conscience provision in the constitutional amendment that states that "no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs."


Dr. Bredemeier asserts that this student conscience clause "would detract from educational quality by curtailing students' exposure to significant concepts and theories that are integral to related domains of study and underlie important public discourse."  What Dr. Bredemeier is really saying is that the state (not parents or students) should be making the decisions about what values and "concepts" students should embrace and accept.


The ACLU argues that the student conscience clause would "compromise the education of students who opt out of assignments by depriving them of the opportunity to learn about cultures and concepts that they may personally disagree with, but are necessary to know as part of a comprehensive, quality education."  What the ACLU really means to say is that the student conscience clause will curb the behavior of educators who seek to indoctrinate students in belief systems that contradict their religious faith.


The lawsuit also alleges that the religious liberty amendment will repeal religious freedom rights for prisoners in state and local custody.  This is a nonsensical claim.  The constitutional amendment states that none of its language expands the rights of prisoners beyond those afforded by the laws of the United States.  The amendment does nothing to restrict the current religious freedoms of inmates, but does not expand them beyond those enunciated in federal law and federal court decisions.  The language was requested by the Missouri Department of Corrections.


The plaintiffs contend that the ballot summary is "insufficient and unfair."  As to its supposed "insufficiency," the ballot summary is limited to 50 words under the law.  The language chosen by the Legislature speaks to the major overarching provisions of the constitutional amendment.  As to its supposed "unfairness," the ballot summary reflects bipartisan input over the course of four legislative sessions, and is an eminently fair, straightforward, and non-prejudicial description of the key components of the amendment.


The religious liberty amendment, House Joint Resolution 2, has been strongly promoted by the Missouri Family Policy Council, and we drafted many of its provisions.  HJR 2, sponsored by Representative Mike McGhee of Odessa, was approved by the Missouri House by a vote of 126-30, and by the Missouri Senate by a vote of 34-0.  It will appear on next year's November general election ballot, unless the Governor chooses to place it on the August primary ballot.  A simple majority of Missouri voters is required for passage.


The central provision of the religious freedom amendment is a constitutional guarantee that students have the right to pray and express their religious beliefs on a voluntary basis in the public schools.  That right cannot be exercised in disruptive fashion, and does not extend beyond the parameters placed on any other free speech under similar circumstances.


The amendment also assures adult citizens and elected officials the right to pray and acknowledge God on public property and government premises.  The proposal further protects the right of government bodies to invite ministers and clergypersons to offer invocations before government meetings and proceedings.   The amendment also requires that a copy of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution be posted in a conspicuous and legible fashion in every public school in the state.


The ballot summary approved by the General Assembly reads as follows:


"Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to ensure:



That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed;


That school children shall have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools;


That all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution." 


We will have more to report on this issue in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, please be praying that the Cole County Circuit Court Judge dismisses this frivolous lawsuit, which is poorly prepared and legally baseless.  This is a long-shot legal ploy by the ACLU that is unlikely to succeed, but is only the beginning of their effort to confuse Missouri voters about the true purpose of the religious liberty amendment. 


You can read the text of the religious liberty constitutional amendment by using this link:

House Joint Resolution 2


Joe's Signature