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Missouri Family E-News

January 29, 2013

 
Federal Judge Deals Latest Blow to Abortion Drug Mandate 

 

Religious liberty advocates are celebrating the victory of yet another Missouri business in the continuing legal challenge to the federal government's contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.

 

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Noce has issued a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the mandate against Sharpe Holdings, a dairy farm and creamery located in Bethel, Missouri.    

 

The lawsuit was filed by founder Charles Sharpe and two of his employees, who argued that the mandate would compel them to abrogate their religious beliefs in violation of the First Amendment and the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  

 

Judge Noce determined on a preliminary basis that the mandate "and its substantial financial penalties" would substantially burden the plaintiff's religious beliefs.   

 

"[The mandate] would force them to subsidize coverage for drugs and devices used to induce abortion against their religious beliefs and principles, or force them to suffer very substantial economic consequences," Judge Noce wrote.  

 

Charles Sharpe is a well known Christian businessman and philanthropist who is also an evangelical pastor.  His dairy trucks travel throughout the Midwest emblazoned in large letters with the message "Jesus is Lord."

 

The dairy farm is part of a large complex in northeast Missouri that Sharpe operates known as Heartland Ministries.   The campus includes an academy and residential facilities dedicated in large part to serving troubled youth.  Sharpe's passion is to bring healing to hurting children.

 

Sharpe's tentative victory is the third successful legal challenge to the abortion drug mandate by a Missouri business.  A U.S. District Judge recently ruled on an initial basis that American Pulverizer Company of St. Louis did not have to comply with the mandate.

 

In the most significant ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction blocking implementation of the law against O'Brien Industrial Holdings of St. Louis.  

   

 
Pro-Marriage University Employee Restored to Position

 

 

A university employee who was suspended from her job because of her support for the institution of marriage has been reinstated to her position.

 

Angela McCaskill was relieved of her job last October as the chief diversity officer for Gallaudet University, one of the nation's leading colleges serving the deaf and hard of hearing.

 

McCaskill was shown the door when it was learned that she had signed a petition in support of placing Question 6 on the Maryland statewide ballot.  Passage of Question 6 would have reversed action by  the Maryland Legislature redefining marriage to include homosexual unions.

 

McCaskill, who is African-American, had been employed by the Gallaudet for 23 years.  University officials said that McCaskills' views were inconsistent with those necessary for a chief diversity officer.    

 

Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, and other Christian leaders had taken Gallaudet University to task.

 

"The University's action underscores that far more is at stake in redefining marriage than what two people walk down the aisle," Perkins had said.  "If marriage is redefined, we can expect more of these discriminatory actions against those who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman."

 

McCaskill's case is similar to that of Crystal Dixon, another African-American human resources administrator.  Dixon was fired by the University of Toledo after she wrote a letter to a local newspaper objecting to an editorial comparing the "gay rights" movement to the civil rights movement.

 

Dixon is appealing her dismissal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Her attorney, Robert Muise, says the case is an example of the "one-way diversity" of many universities.

 

"Anti-Christian bias and bigotry is a hallmark of the diversity crusade promoted in our public institutions.  This case is an egregious example of its pernicious impact on our fundamental rights." 

  

 


Legislators Press for Renewal of Program
of PRC Tax Credits
   

 

Pro-life state legislators are making a strong push this session to win passage of bills that would revive a state tax credit program which benefits pregnancy resource centers.  Legislation has been filed in both the Missouri House and Senate which would renew the tax credit, which had been originally established in 2006 but expired last year.

 

The program enabled donors to pregnancy resource centers to deduct 50 percent of their contributions from their state tax liability.  A total of $2 million in pregnancy resource center tax credits could be claimed by Missourians each year, with a ceiling of $50,000 allowable to any individual donor.

 

To qualify as a recipient of tax-favored donations, a facility must offer pregnancy testing, counseling, emotional and material support to women with unplanned pregnancies in order to assist them in carrying their pregnancies to term.  

 

The Jobs, Economic Development, and Local Government Committee in the Missouri Senate has already advanced legislation which would renew and extend the pregnancy resource center tax credit through December 31, 2019.  The measure (Senate Committee Substitute for Senate Bills 20, 15, and 19) is a combination of bills introduced by Senators Bob Dixon of Springfield, Ron Richard of Joplin, and Jay Wasson of Nixa.   

 

The substitute proposal was endorsed on a unanimous bipartisan basis by all members of the Senate Jobs Committee.  In addition to Senators Dixon and Wasson, Senators Will Kraus, John Lamping, Gary Romine, David Sater, Jolie Justus, Ryan McKenna, and Jamilah Nasheed all cast votes in favor of the measure.  Senator Dixon will handle the bill when it is taken up on the floor of the Senate.   

 

Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Eric Burlison of Springfield.  Representative Burlison's bill, House Bill 87, would extend the pregnancy resource center tax credit through December 31, 2025.  The House Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee is expected to act on Burlison's proposal during a meeting today.

 

Pro-abortion activists used the occasion of the hearing on Burlison's bill last week to attack the credibility of pregnancy resource centers.  They alleged that PRC's provide false medical information to their clients.  Their focus seemed to be aimed at information shared by some crisis pregnancy centers that women who have abortions are more likely to have breast cancer.

 

Numerous studies have demonstrated that there is an apparent link between abortion and an increased risk of breast cancer.   Leading medical associations and government medical authorities have dismissed such studies because they contradict their pro-abortion dogma.

 

Efforts to extend the pregnancy resource center tax credit have failed in recent sessions because the subject has become embroiled in a larger contentious debate over tax credits for business development and historic rehabilitation.  Legislative leaders in both the House and Senate seem determined this session to separate debate over renewal of benevolent tax credits like the PRC tax credit from the running battle over tax credits authorized for economic development.

 

Other benevolent tax credits which would be extended through Senator Dixon's and Representative Burlison's proposals are those designated for food pantries, child advocacy centers, developmental disability care providers, and surviving spouses of public safety officers, as well as credits earmarked for accessibility modifications for the disabled.

 

These tax credit programs have been vital not only to the success of pregnancy resource centers, but to numerous non-profit agencies meeting the needs of the disadvantaged.  Donors contribute at a greater level than they might be able to otherwise because they know they will be able to write off half of their donation on their coming year's tax return.

 

More than 50 pregnancy resource centers around Missouri have been approved by the state as qualifying agencies.  It is estimated that they serve over 37,000 clients in any given year.  Many PRC's have adopted a medical model in which they not only provide free pregnancy tests, but also offer ultrasounds, childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes, and referrals for prenatal care.

 

Pregnancy resource centers are well known for furnishing expectant mothers with baby and maternity clothes, car seats, and layettes.  Some go so far as to assist with rent and utility bills.  Others offer counseling in the areas of finance and continuing education.  Most provide special attention to expectant fathers as well.  Only God knows how many lives of children have been saved and how many mothers have come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior through the life-affirming ministry of PRC's. 

 

Missouri is blessed to have some of the most professional and compassionate pregnancy resource centers in the entire nation.  These agencies have been trendsetters in expanding and upgrading the services provided by PRC's and the credentials of the staff who provide them.  Individuals like Joplin resident Kim Conroy of the Impact Association have been national leaders in working to promote quality assurance in the client services of PRC's.

 

The effort to revive the PRC tax credits has been led by Sam Lee of Campaign Life Missouri and Kerry Messer of the Missouri Alliance for Life.  We have been grateful for the opportunity to support their efforts.

 

We encourage you to contact your state senators and state representatives to encourage their support of renewal of the pregnancy resource center tax credit. 

 

You can contact your state representative by using this link:

Missouri House 

 

You can contact your state senator by clicking this link:

Missouri Senate 

 

 

Joe's Signature