Sunday, January 26, 2014

The 3 - January 26, 2014

On this week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, the contraception mandate garnered more action from the U.S. Supreme Court this week concerning a group of nuns, as the high court prepares to hear arguments in March involving two companies who have filed suit against the mandate.  There's also more news on the marriage front, with developments in two states concerning challenges to the traditional definition of marriage.  And, on this anniversary week of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, another large crowd gathered in Washington, DC, and pro-life people across America were involved in commemorating this dreadful anniversary by speaking out for life.

3 - U.S. Supreme Court offers further protection for group on nuns from contraception mandate

It was just hours before the end of 2013, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns from Colorado who serve elderly, impoverished people, were faced with paying fines because they did not wish to provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plan.   Their case had been turned back by a Federal appeals court, and their last hope was a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.   And, justice Sonya Sotomayor put the government mandate on hold and required the Obama Administration to respond within a matter of days.

Not unexpectedly, the Adminstration said that while the Sisters themselves were exempt, their insurance provider still was required to provide these drugs - so, in essence, they would still be involved in this objectionable practice.   Now, the high court has extended the temporary relief that was given at the end of 2013.

The WORLD website has a report, which says that the organization will be entirely exempt from the mandate pending a decision from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court wrote that, “If the employer applicants inform the Secretary of Health and Human Services in writing that they are nonprofit organizations that hold themselves out as religious and have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, the respondents are enjoined from enforcing against the applicants the challenged provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related regulations pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit."

Court watchers were in the dark about what the justices were doing on this case leading up to Friday’s order. Sotomayor had asked the federal government to file a response to Little Sisters by Jan. 3, after which she would decide whether to extend her injunction. Weeks passed with nothing from the court.

The delay was apparently because Sotomayor had submitted the case to the full court’s consideration. The WORLD article reminds us that, "while religious liberty advocates will celebrate the decision, the high court said its order “should not be construed as an expression of the court’s views on the merits.”

2 - Marriage amendments facing challenges in Florida, Virginia

Recently, I reported to you about court action involving the marriage amendments in Utah and Oklahoma in which singular Federal judges had struck down the respective amendments.   Earlier this week, it was announced that an effort is underway to repeal the amendment in the state of Florida defining marriage as one man and one woman.  CitizenLink reports that six couples have filed suit to challenge the amendment, which was approved by 62 percent of Floridians in 2008.

Now, attorneys from the Equality Florida Institute claim it violates the U.S. Constitution.

John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), called the challenge “nothing more than a publicity stunt.” He is quoted as saying, “Filed in Miami, it represents ‘forum shopping’ in the most liberal legal venue in the state...However, we are confident that Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi will provide a vigorous defense of Florida’s longheld law, and in doing so, will expose the radical views and overreaching legal positions set forth in today’s lawsuit.”  He said that his group will “vigorously defend” the amendment.

And, this week, the Attorney General of the state of Virginia announced that instead of defending the law of his state, a marriage amendment approved by 57 percent of the voters there in 2006, he would side with 2 gay couples who have filed suit against the amendment. A memorandum filed in court by his office this week said that Attorney General Mark R. Herring would side with the plaintiffs in the case.

It reads, according to CitizenLink, “Having duly exercised his independent constitutional judgment, the Attorney General has concluded that Virginia’s laws denying the right to marry to same-sex couples violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution...The Attorney General will not defend Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, will argue for its being declared unconstitutional, and will work to ensure that both sides of the issue are responsibly and vigorously briefed and argued to facilitate a decision on the merits, consistent with the rule of law.”

Interestingly enough, it has been reported that Herring, while a state senator, voted in favor of the same amendment that he is now refusing to defend.

1 - Scores join March for Life in D.C., events populate the landscape of America to affirm life

This past Wednesday marked the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which, along with the companion decision, Doe vs. Bolton, resulted in legalized abortion in America.  Since then, it is estimated that over 56 million unborn children have lost their lives.   As National Right to Life reported this week, the rate of abortion has slowed, to around 1.1 million children per year, but that is an incredibly excessive amount, considering that the acceptable level would be "zero" unborn children dying. reported that hundreds of thousands of pro-life people turned out for the annual March for Life in Washington, braving cold temperatures to take a stand for the right to life of unborn children. While marchers mourned 41 years of legalized abortion, many sounded a hopeful theme for a pro-life future and think the decision will eventually be reversed.   This weekend, March for Life West Coast was held in San Francisco, and locally, in Montgomery, on Sunday, the annual Memorial Service for the Unborn took place at the gravesite of 18 aborted babies that were found in a dumpster.

As with other recent marches, the number of young adults and high school and college students impressed March for Life organizers and provided another reason to be optimistic.

CNN Blog post by Jake Tapper provided a behind-the-scenes look at the organizers of the March for Life.   The piece quotes the new president of the March for Life, Jeanne Monahan, who replaces Nellie Gray, who ran the march for some 40 years.   Monahan says, "Our theme this year is adoption, and that adoption is a noble decision for a birth mother.  She told CNN, "We're trying to do everything we can to encourage women who are facing an unexpected pregnancy to choose life."

The piece contends that under Monahan, the tone has changed, and that adoption organizers are hoping the new tone can help change deeply entrenched ideas about abortion.

Ryan Bomberger, an outspoken adoption advocate, is quoted as saying, "It really is a natural outgrowth of fighting for the human dignity of all human life...When we see far fewer percentage of women with unplanned pregnancies placing their children for adoption, or making a loving adoption plan, it should be a concern."

Monahan is reportedly hoping to build on the momentum to change the march into a year-round operation. The group brought on a full time Washington lobbyist to take their fight not to the Supreme Court, and to Congress.

Marchers got a boost from Pope Francis who tweeted his support from the Vatican, writing, "I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable."   The movement is attempting to broaden its participation by reaching out to evangelicals and other non-Catholic groups.

The Media Research Center lamented the lack of coverage for the March on broadcast television - it highlighted that ABC offered the March 24 seconds and NBC gave it 22 seconds, correctly noting the “huge turnout” despite brutal weather conditions. CBS didn’t bother to cover it at all.

Yet earlier this month, MRC points out that the networks lavished coverage on...the birth of the new panda cub at the National Zoo. They gave “Bao Bao” 4 minutes and 41 seconds, to be exact. The MRC report states, "Whereas tens of millions of dead human babies pry just a few seconds of grudging coverage, the single panda birth had network 'journalists' embarrassingly enthusiastic."

A leading media voice had a poignant commentary.  That would be Brit Hume of Fox News, who said, according to has given us an ever clearer picture of just how much of a baby a fetus is. At 20 weeks, we now know, these tiny creatures can hear, even recognize a mother’s voice. Their toenails are growing and their hearts beat loud enough to be heard by a stethoscope.

The moral case for allowing such beings to be killed grows ever weaker and its advocates resort to ever more absurd euphemisms to describe what they support. They’re not really pro-abortion, they’ve long said, they’re pro-choice. This isn’t about killing unborn babies. it’s about reproductive health. And the biggest chain of abortion clinics in the country refers to itself as Planned Parenthood.

In 2012, this organization says it carried out “abortion procedures” 329,445 times. Whatever that number represents, it’s not parenthood. These protesters here today understand that there is something deeply false and wrong about all this. They come each year to remind the rest of us.
The LifeSiteNews article referenced a blog post on the Washington Post website by Juliet Eilperin, which stated in part,
Both abortion rights advocates and foes agree that those seeking to curtail access to the procedure are winning. Fifty-three abortion restrictions were enacted into law in 2013, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the states where abortion opponents have unified control outnumber those dominated by abortion rights proponents by a ratio of 3 to 1. As a result, a slew of new requirements — on questions ranging from the point of a fetus's viability to whether a women seeking an abortion should be required to see an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure — are making it into law.
Eilperin also included a very telling graphic that shows the restrictions on abortion in each state.  She quotes Grazie Pozo Christie, a member of the Catholic Association's advisory board, who said that the combination of this political trend and the fact that many young people oppose abortion make it more socially acceptable to voice their views in public.

"People are more confident about being pro-life," she said in an interview, after attending the rally. "They're not ashamed of being on the other side."

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