Missouri Family E-News

June 19, 2018

Federal Judge Lets Stand New Law on Abortion Drug 
A federal judge has rebuffed efforts by Planned Parenthood to block a new Missouri law protecting the health and safety of women undergoing drug-induced abortions.
U.S District Judge Beth Phillips denied the request of attorneys for Planned Parenthood to issue a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the new law.
The law enacted by the General Assembly during last year's special session established new standards governing what the abortion industry and their media allies like to describe as "medication abortions."
These abortions involve administration of the abortion drug regimen RU-486, and there is nothing medicinal about it.
Women are given the drug mifepristone at an abortion facility.  This drug causes the deterioration of the endometrial lining of the uterus, resulting in the expiration of a developing embryo attached to the uterine wall.
Women are then sent home to take another drug called misoprostol, which causes the women to expel the remains of the dead embryo.  The abortion drug cocktail is dangerous, prompting in many cases excessive hemorraghing, and in some cases, "incomplete" abortions.
The new statute adopted by the Missouri Legislature requires that any doctor who is prescribing the use of RU-486 must first obtain approval from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) of a "complication plan."
DHSS subsequently issued regulations stipulating that an abortion facility or doctor must have a written contract with an obstetrician or Ob/Gyn group to be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to treat any complications related to the administration of the abortion drugs.
Judge Phillips expressed her personal conclusion that the regulations have virtually no benefit.  However, she also concluded that the regulation would not be a substantial burden to a large fraction of women seeking a chemical abortion, and was thus not unconstitutional.
The new regulations have, for the moment, proven highly problematic for the Springfield and Columbia clinics operated by Planned Parenthood.  
Authorities at Planned Parenthood have been unable to reach working agreements with local ob/gyns in Springfield and Columbia, because they do not want to be associated with the abortion provider.
As a result, Planned Parenthood has been unable to provide the RU-486 abortion drugs at those locations.  
Judge Phillips explained that while the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that women have the right to access a legal abortion, they do not have a constitutional right to a particular method of abortion.
Judge Phillips surmised that most women who would be unable to obtain a chemical abortion would instead choose to have a surgical abortion.   
The preliminary judgement by Judge Phillips in this case is consistent with the position recently taken by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding a nearly identical law in the State of Arkansas.
In that case, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit overturned a U.S. District Court judge's ruling blocking enforcement of the "complication" plan provisions enacted by the Arkansas Legislature for drug-induced abortions.
Planned Parenthood has been unable to find any obstetrician anywhere in the State of Arkansas who is willing to enter into a contractual relationship with the abortion provider.
Missouri Planned Parenthood affiliates have been successful in obtaining approval of "complication plans" for their abortion clinics in St. Louis and Kansas City, and thus are able to administer the abortion drugs at those facilities.    
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SCOTUS Upholds
Religious Freedom of
Christian Cakeshop
Advocates of religious freedom for the Christian community gained an important momentary victory from the U.S. Supreme Court in a much anticipated case involving a Colorado bakery owner.  The High Court ruled that Jack Phillips was a victim of religious discrimination when he was penalized for declining to decorate a "wedding" cake for a same-sex union ceremony.
Phillips is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado.  He was approached in 2012 by a same-sex couple who were seeking a personalized customized cake for their "wedding reception."  Phillips declined to accept the order, stating that he could not participate in a celebration of behavior that violated his religious convictions.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The ACLU alleged that Phillips had failed to comply with a state law prohibiting discrimination based on "sexual orientation" in public accommodations.  The Commission ruled against the Christian baker, saying he was guilty of religious-based bigotry, and ordered him and his staff to undergo "sensitivity training sessions."
In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court ruled that the actions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Jack Phillips' right to the free exercise of religion.  Kennedy and his colleagues concluded that the Commission had demonstrated clear and impermissible hostility toward the baker's sincere religious beliefs.
"Commissioners endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, implying that religious beliefs and persons are less than fully welcome in Colorado's business community," the majority opinion reads.  "One commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips' invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust."
That last official slur was particularly offensive to Jack Phillips.  His  father was a veteran who was severely injured in combat during World War II.  He was part of a unit that helped to liberate a Nazi concentration camp.  "For the commissioner to compare standing for my faith to Hitler's atrocities is just unspeakable," Phillips had said at the time.
The High Court also concluded that Phillips had been subjected to differential treatment by the civil rights tribunal.  Justice Kennedy took note of the fact that the Commission had upheld the right of other bakers to decline to decorate cakes including Scriptural passages disapproving of same-sex relationships.
"It is not the role of the State or its officials to prescribe what shall be offensive," Kennedy wrote.  "The Colorado Court elevated one view of what is offensive over another and sent a signal of official disapproval of Phillips' religious beliefs...The government cannot act in a manner that passes judgement upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs and practices."  
The Masterpiece Cakeshop decision was not, nonetheless, the sweeping victory for conscience rights that religious liberty advocates had hoped for.  Justice Kennedy stated in closing his opinion that "the outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts."  Kennedy has been an unrelenting champion of homosexual rights on the High Court, penning the arbitrary dictatorial decision that redefined marriage to include same-sex unions.

In his latest example of philosophical sophistry, Kennedy expressed concern that "a long list of persons who provide goods and services for marriages and weddings might refuse to do so for gay persons, thus resulting in a community-wide stigma inconsistent with the history and dynamics of civil rights laws." The only dynamics truly in play here are Kennedy's own personal sentiments.

The conservative justices on the Supreme Court would have issued a more decisive verdict in favor of First Amendment free exercise rights.  Justice Neil Gorsuch stated that "no bureaucratic judgement condemning a sincerely held religious belief as 'irrational' or 'offensive' will ever survive strict scrutiny under the First Amendment."

"Just as it is the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence that we protect speech that we hate, it must be the proudest boast of our free exercise jurisprudence that we protect religious beliefs that we find offensive," Gorsuch observed.

Justice Clarence Thomas went even further in arguing that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Phillips's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.  "By forcing Philips to create custom wedding cakes for same-sex 'weddings,' Colorado's public accommodations laws alters the expressive content of his message...States cannot put individuals to the choice of being compelled to affirm someone else's belief or being forced to speak when they would prefer to remain silent."

Jack Phillips responded to the Supreme Court decision with this statement:  "I serve all who walk through my doors, people from all walks of life.  I've spent years honing my craft as a cake artist, combining baking with my love of sculpting, painting, and sketching.  And I love my work because a cake is a canvas on which I express ideas, celebrate events, and bring joy to people's lives.

"It was shocking to me that the government would try to take away my freedoms and force me to create something that went against my faith.  The Colorado government's hostility directly impacted my family's shop.  We faced death threats and harassment."

"I'm profoundly thankful that the Court saw the injustice that the government inflicted on me.  Today's decision makes clear that tolerance is a two-way street.  If we want to have freedom ourselves, we have to extend it to others with whom we disagree about important issues like the meaning of marriage."

Many legal observers have speculated that Justice Kennedy will announce his retirement from the High Court following the end of its current term, which ends later this month.  It is hoped that his replacement will join the conservative justices on the Court in affirming that no Christian wedding vendor can be compelled by the government to assist in celebrating something God has called an abomination.

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