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Missouri Family E-News

July 30, 2013

              
RU-486 Bill
Becomes Law Without Nixon OK 

 

 

Missouri has a new law on the books regulating the administration of the chemical abortion drug RU-486, thanks to the inaction of Governor Jay Nixon.

 

The Governor chose neither to sign nor veto House Bill 400, sponsored by Representative Jeanie Riddle of Mokane.  By taking no action before the constitutional deadline, the bill became law without his signature.

 

The new pro-life statute stipulates that RU-486 can only be administered in the presence of a physician.  The legislation was designed to prevent the establishment of so-called "webcam abortions" in Missouri.

 

Under this scheme, pioneered by Planned Parenthood in Iowa, women are provided the drug in a remote location without ever meeting a physician face to face.   

 

An abortion doctor communicates with a woman online through a video connection, and then "dispenses" the drug through a vending machine-type device at the distant office where the woman is located. 

 

The woman then takes the drug regimen home to initiate a "do-it-yourself" abortion.  She first takes the drug mifepristone to cause the preborn child to detach from the uterus.  She subsequently takes the drug misoprostol to force contractions and expel a dead child.

 

Planned Parenthood has increasingly promoted RU-486 as an alternative to surgical abortions because of the challenges they face in hiring doctors and nurses to staff their satellite network of clinics.  The "webcam" abortion process enables them to market abortions to small towns and rural areas without the need to provide onsite medical staff.

 

The pro-abortion Food and Drug Administration has continued to allow RU-486 on the market despite the grave complications it causes to women who self-administer it.  At least 14 women have died since the drug's inception, and more than 2200 have reported significant complications.   

 

The most common complications are continuous excessive blood loss and sepsis, often as a consequence of "incomplete" abortions where body parts of the child have remained in the mother.

 

Missouri legislators gave strong bipartisan endorsement to the new law.  Representative Riddle's bill was approved in the House by a vote of 115-39, and in the Senate by a vote of 23-7. 

 


San Antonio Seeks to Blackball Christians

The city of San Antonio is considering an ordinance which would have the effect of banning Bible-believing Christians from serving in city government.

The city council is debating changes to the city's anti-discrimination ordinance which would add the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as new protected classes.

However, the ordinance goes even further.  It would prohibit any person from being appointed to any position in city government if that person has "demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group, or organization."

Not only would the ordinance have the effect of disqualifying individuals who have expressed disagreement with homosexuality, it would authorize city officials to exclude any individual from public office whose political, social, or moral sentiments they disagreed with.

Charles Flowers, the African-American Pastor of Faith Outreach International, says the ordinance is way over the top.  "The ordinance doesn't define what bias is or who will determine whether or not one has been exercised...It is unprecedently wrong, and the citizens of San Antonio must stop it."

Steve Branson, Pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church, says the proposed changes are a "stifling of free speech."  "This is open to interpretation of whoever is in control.  How do you figure out what a bias is?  If I don't attain to their view, then I am out of the picture completely."

Proponents of the ordinance say they are simply trying to update "outdated terminology." 
 

Franklin County, MO
Wins Legal Battle
Over Invocations
 

 

 

The American Civil Liberties Union has abandoned their legal challenge to invocations offered before meetings of the Franklin County Commission.  The lawsuit was dismissed on July 19th in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri.

 

The ACLU had taken the Franklin County Commission to court last year, alleging that prayers offered before meetings of the county's governing body amounted to an establishment of religion.  Lawyers for the ACLU filed the suit after the County Commission refused their demand to cease the practice of offering invocations.

 

The ACLU had written a formal letter to the County Commission with an ultimatum.  Put an end to invocations altogether, or failing to do so, limit the practice to "non-sectarian" prayers.  The goal of the ACLU, in keeping with their anti-Christian legacy, was to quash any prayers offered in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

The suit was filed on behalf of an anonymous Franklin County citizen named Jane Doe, who said that she was offended by the content of the Commission's prayers.  The ACLU decided to drop the lawsuit when U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh ruled that the County Commissioners had the legal right to face their accuser, and that "Jane Doe" could not remain anonymous.

 

Judge Limbaugh ruled that it was not possible for the plaintiff to conceal her identity, since the defendants would be unable to engage in discovery with an invisible party.  "Jane Doe" had maintained that her anonymity was necessary to prevent harassment and ridicule from others in the community.

 

"Plaintiff's concerns do not overcome the constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings," Limbaugh wrote.  "Plaintiff has availed herself of the court system and in doing so, she has invited public scrutiny of her claims...A hostile public reaction and the prospect of embarrassment are insufficient to justify proceeding anonymously."

 

Earlier this year, the ACLU had retreated from the heart of their lawsuit, saying that they were no longer challenging future invocations of the County Commission.  The ACLU decided to withdraw the major thrust of their legal challenge following action by the County Commission establishing a formal policy for invocations.

 

Under that policy, developed with the assistance of the Alliance Defending Freedom, invitations to offer invocations would be extended to ministers from various denominations throughout Franklin County to offer the prayers on a rotating basis.  Invocations would be offered before the official start of the meeting, and those in attendance would be advised that they were under no obligation to participate.

 

While the ACLU chose to suspend their prospective legal challenge, they had maintained the portion of their lawsuit challenging the prior invocation practice of the County Commission.  Under that procedure, Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer offered the invocations himself.  The ACLU contended that the official presentation of prayer by an elected official constituted an unconstitutional entanglement of government with religion.  Now that the entire lawsuit has been dismissed, the claim of unconstitutional behavior against Griesheimer is moot.

 

The invocation policy currently being followed by the Franklin County Commission is consistent with religious free exercise provisions of Missouri's Constitution.  Under language approved by Missouri voters last August in Amendment 2, the Missouri Legislature and local government bodies "may extend to ministers, clergypersons, and other individuals the privilege to offer invocations or other prayers" at their meetings or sessions.

 

The religious liberty language endorsed by Missouri voters also prohibits discrimination against religious speech.  It guarantees that "elected officials...shall have the right to pray on government premises and public property so long as such prayer abides within the same parameters placed upon any other free speech under similar circumstances."    

 

The ACLU knew that they were facing very formidable legal headwinds had they continued to pursue their lawsuit.   Federal courts have long validated the practice of governmental invocations.  In the landmark 1983 case of Marsh v. Chambers, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that such prayers were not a governmental establishment of religion so long as such prayers were not used to "proselytize" or denigrate other religious beliefs.

 

In recent years, atheist legal advocates have contended that invocations are only permissible when they are "non-sectarian," with their target the removal of any references to Christianity.  Yet most federal appeals courts have ruled that "sectarian" prayers are constitutionally permissible.  They have reaffirmed the precedent established in Marsh v. Chambers that it is not the business of the government to prescribe or regulate the content of prayers offered in public settings.

 

The Supreme Court will soon be hearing its first major case on the issue of invocations since the Marsh decision.  The case comes from the town of Greece, New York, where the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the town's invocation policy resulted in an unconstitutional "affiliation" with Christianity.  We will report more on this and other developments on the religious free exercise front in coming weeks.

 

We once again commend and now congratulate Commissioner Griesheimer and his colleagues for standing up to the intimidation tactics of the ACLU.  The decision of the Franklin County Commission to defend the right to pray in federal court is a huge victory for religious liberty in Missouri.

 

Had the ACLU succeeded in silencing public prayer in Franklin County, they assuredly would have gone after every county commission, city council, and board of aldermen in the state, demanding that they abolish the use of invocations to solemnize government proceedings.  Ministers all across Missouri who have graced public meetings would have been muzzled as a result of a contorted interpretation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

 

Such an outcome would have stood in stark contradiction to the overwhelming sentiment of Missourians on this subject.  Amendment 2 was approved last August by Missouri voters by a thundering majority of 83 to 17 percent. 

 

We also applaud the work of Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Brett Harvey and local attorney Tim Belz, who provided expert legal assistance to Franklin County in this case.  Thanks in part to them, government officials in Union, Missouri, and throughout our state, will still be able to call out to the Governor of the Universe for his counsel in the affairs of men.  

 

 

Joe's Signature