Missouri Family E-News

September 22, 2015

    
U.S. House Votes to Strip Funds From Planned Parenthood

Five members of Missouri's Congressional delegation voted late last week to suspend federal funding to the Planned Parenthood Federation and its affiliates.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 241-187 to place a one-year moratorium on the disbursement of federal funds to the abortion giant.

Missouri Congressmen Sam Graves, Jason Smith, Blaine Luetkemeyer, and Billy Long, and Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler all voted to defund Planned Parenthood for the coming fiscal year.

Missouri Congressmen William "Lacy" Clay and Emmanuel Cleaver voted to continue providing over $550 million in annual taxpayer funding to the nation's leading abortion provider.  Congresswoman  Ann Wagner was not present for the vote.

"Should we force taxpayers to fund a business that spends its money aborting 327,653 children per year?" asked House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy during debate on the House floor.

"Should we force taxpayers to fund an organization whose barbaric practices, as vividly shown in recent videos, disregard and devalue the sanctity of the most innocent human lives?"  McCarthy continued.

House leaders moved the legislation in the wake of national outrage over undercover videos showing high-level Planned Parenthood employees engaged in the marketing of baby body parts.

In the latest of the videos released by a group called the Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood officials brag that they "generate a fair amount of income" from trafficking in the organs and tissue of aborted unborn children.

"We work with people who want particular tissues, you know, they want cardiac, they want eyes, they want neural, or [even] gonads...Everything we provide is fresh," says Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a senior medical adviser for Planned Parenthood.

In another segment, a  spokesman for the abortion provider expresses concern about public reaction to the harvesting and sale of the body parts of children who are victims of late-term abortion.

"We're trying to figure this out as an industry--how we're going to manage remuneration, because the headlines would be a disaster."

Planned Parenthood isn't backing down, despite the widespread revulsion Americans feel after being exposed to the grotesque and grisly details of Planned Parenthood's business practices.

In fact, a leading voice for the pro-abortion movement recently shared damning testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in D.C.
The witness was Priscilla Smith, the Director of the Program for the Study of Reproductive Justice at Yale Law School.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte discussed with her the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, or what is often referred to as a D&E abortion.  In that procedure, the body of the preborn child is dismembered and pulled out of the uterus by literally tearing the child apart limb from torso.

Congressman Goodlatte asked Professor Smith:  "Do you believe this is a humane way to die?"  Smith responded unashamedly:  "Yes, a D&E procedure is a very humane procedure."

Late last week, the U.S. House also passed a bill which would make it a federal crime to fail to provide standard medical care to children born alive during an abortion.

The undercover videos have revealed that organs have been harvested from infants who survived the abortion procedure.  In one case, a child's skull was being extracted from the baby's head despite the fact that the child's heart was still beating.

Prospects for passage of either bill in the U.S. Senate are not promising, where pro-life senators have been unable to muster the 60 votes needed to shut down a filibuster.  President Obama has promised to protect his friends in the abortion industry and veto either bill.

We encourage you to let your Congressman know how you feel about their vote on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood.  You can do so by using this link:
 
  

Listen to the Broadcast Version of the Jeff City Update online at 
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8th Circuit Issues
Key Decision Against
Abortion Rx Mandate
 
A prominent Missouri Christian ministry has won a major legal battle in federal court in a challenge to the Obama Administration's contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.  A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Heartland Christian Ministries is not required to cooperate in the provision of abortifacient drugs to its employees through its health insurance program.

The appeals court panel unanimously decided that federal regulations implementing the abortion drug mandate create "a substantial burden" on Heartland's free exercise of religion, in violation of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  The 8th Circuit panel upheld an injunction issued by a U.S. District Court Judge prohibiting enforcement of the mandate against Heartland.

Heartland Christian Ministries provides residential services and educational programs to troubled youth on a large campus in rural northeast Missouri.  The ministry is the brainchild of Pastor Charles Sharpe, a well-know Christian philanthropist with a devotion to the Gospel message.

The legal dispute centers around a provision of the so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare.  The ACA delegated authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to determine the basic essential services to be included in all health insurance policies issued in the United States.

Then-Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued an edict requiring that "preventive care" services include "free" coverage of all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration without copays or deductibles.  The contraceptive mandate thus included mandatory coverage of abortifacient drugs such as Ella and Plan B. Those drugs are designed to destroy an implanted human embryo by breaking down the intrauterine lining, and are often marketed as "morning-after" pills.

The Sebelius edict included exceedingly punitive fines designed to silence any dissenters.  Businesses that fail to comply with the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate can face fines of $100 per day per employee.  Businesses that choose to avoid the moral dilemma by canceling health insurance coverage altogether can face fines of $2000 per year per employee.

In a highly-publicized decision last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that closely held corporations like Hobby Lobby could not be forced to pay for abortion drug coverage in their health insurance plans.  The High Court decided that family-owned businesses were "persons" under the U.S. Constitution and thus entitled to freedom of religion guarantees.  The Supreme Court stated that "a law that operates so as to make the practice of religious beliefs more expensive in the context of business activities imposes a burden on the free exercise of religion."

The Obama Administration has attempted to get around the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision through a phony "accommodation" scheme under which contraceptives and abortifacient drugs are provided to the employees of religious corporations through a separate arrangement.   Companies that object to the mandate are required to certify their objection to their insurer or to government authorities, and the insurance company is then required to provide abortion drug coverage to the employees "independent" of the company's health insurance plan at no cost.
The 8th Circuit has now ruled that this bogus "accommodation" scheme is still a substantial burden on freedom of religion, and does "nothing more than coerce [Heartland] into another avenue that violates their religion."  The judges agreed with Heartland's lawyers that the certification process "makes [Heartland] complicit in conduct that violates their religious beliefs."

"What some might consider an otherwise neutral act is a burden too heavy to bear...It compels [Heartland] to act in a manner that they sincerely believe would make them complicit in a grave moral wrong as the price of avoiding a ruinous financial penalty, " Judge Roger Wollman wrote for the court.

"As in Hobby Lobby, [Heartland] believes that the actions demanded by the regulations are connected to illicit conduct in a way that it makes it immoral for them to take those actions...And it is not for us to say that the line they drew was an unreasonable one," the Court added.

The decision by the 8th Circuit makes it likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will revisit the constitutionality of the contraceptive and abortion drug mandate.  Five other appeals court circuits have upheld the "accommodation" scheme.  The 8th has now created a contrary result that the High Court will most likely feel compelled to reconcile.

This is the second favorable decision out of the 8th Circuit in recent months regarding the Obama Administration's abortion drug mandate.  In July a three-judge panel ruled that a Missouri State Senator had legal standing to challenge the mandate as it applied to his family health insurance policy.

State Senator Paul Wieland of Imperial had argued in federal court that he should not be forced to obtain health insurance for his family that included coverage of abortifacient drugs.  The state of Missouri has a longstanding law that allow individuals to opt out of contraceptive coverage in their heath insurance plans.  That law was nullified by the HHS mandate.

The Wieland litigation is signficant in that it is the first time a federal appeals court has ruled that individuals had the legal right to assert that compliance with the mandate violates their free exercise of religion.

We commend Pastor Charles Sharpe for taking a strong moral stand to ensure that non-profit Christian ministries are not forced to pay for drugs or facilitate the availability of drugs that destroy a developing preborn child. 

We also salute local attorney Tim Belz, whose diligent efforts on behalf of Pastor Sharpe and Senator Wieland have led to these important victories for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. 

Joe's Signature