Sunday, October 05, 2014

The 3 - October 5, 2014

This week on this edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, there is news out of Switzerland that has stopped a court move to try to loosen restrictions on physician-assisted suicide.  Also, a Federal appeals court has upheld a law in Texas that established standards for abortion clinics in the state. And, the top story involves a popular Christian family expert who has teamed up with his son to release a brand new set of video resources, including some updated material from a series released decades ago.

3 - Swiss court overturns decision providing for physician-assisted suicide

In a case out of Switzerland, in which the Alliance Defending Freedom had filed a brief, ADF reports that the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights this past Tuesday threw out a case filed against the Swiss government for its refusal to provide suicide drugs to a woman who did not suffer from any fatal disease.

The chamber nullified a ruling by a panel of the Court against Switzerland upon learning that the woman at the center of the lawsuit actually committed suicide in November 2011 and that no one had notified the court or others involved in the lawsuit of her death or of the fact that she committed suicide using the very poison that she was attempting to secure through her lawsuit.

The Grand Chamber had agreed to review the case after an ECHR panel ruled 4-3 that Switzerland’s law banning lethal poison in such circumstances violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, regarding the right to respect for private and family life, because the court considered the law vague. That ruling is now null and void.

ADF Legal Counsel Paul Coleman is quoted as saying, “Because the government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death, we are pleased to see this bad decision thrown out despite the extraordinary circumstances...The lawsuit’s claim that a person should be able to do whatever he or she pleases does not override national laws rightfully designed to protect the weak and vulnerable.”

ADF intervened in the case in March 2012. Switzerland is one of only four European countries to allow doctor-prescribed death in certain circumstances, but individuals can obtain sodium pentobarbital, a drug that can be used to commit suicide, only after a medical examination and prescription by a doctor.  That protocol will remain intact.

The Alliance Defending Freedom pointed out that the case attempted to create a “right” to assisted suicide under the European Convention.  In a very similar case, Haas v. Switzerland, the ECHR in 2011 unanimously rejected the claim that the country had an obligation to assist individuals in committing suicide.

2 - Texas pro-life law upheld by appeals court

In August, a Federal court judge had ruled to be unconstitutional a provision in a Texas law that required abortion facilities to adhere to the same standards of other surgical centers.  This past Thursday, a three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that lower court ruling, according to a report on the website.  The passage of the original law had been expected to result in the closure of a significant number of abortion clinics in the state.

The website reported that the Center for Reproductive Rights had filed suit to challenge two regulations imposed by H.B. 2, including the requirement that abortion facilities comply with the standards of surgical centers. Those who opposed the law stated that the requirement would be too costly for the majority of abortionists, in some cases meaning upwards of $1 million dollars in upgrades.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel declared the regulation unconstitutional, asserting that it was created by “a brutally effective system of abortion regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics, thereby creating a statewide burden for substantial numbers of Texas women.”

The appeals court judge who wrote the majority opinion, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, wrote, "Without any evidence on these points, plaintiffs do not appear to have met their burden to show that the ambulatory surgical center provision will result in insufficient clinic capacity that will impose an undue burden on a large fraction of women."

The article points out that reports state that seven to eight abortion facilities in Texas will be able to remain due to the ruling, down from the current 19 that are open.

1 - Churches simulcast portion of new Dobson video series 

This week, the video series on which Dr. James Dobson and his son, Ryan, collaborated, was released and included a simulcast of one of the video presentations, which was being shown in an estimated 5000 churches, according to the website,

According to that site, the simulcast featured a single session entitled Your Legacy.  In the film, Dr. James Dobson takes viewers on a journey of the legacy that was set before him and shared insight on what is most important in leaving a legacy.   The simulcast was designed to be a launch into seven other films, books, and Bible studies.  The titles of the other films are, Bringing Up Boys, Bringing Up Girls, The Strong-Willed Child, Dare to Discipline, Straight Talk to Men, Love For a Lifetime, and Wanting to Believe.

In an interview for The Meeting House at the National Religious Broadcasters convention earlier this year, Ryan Dobson shared how he was inspired by watching his father's Focus on the Family film series from the 70's and how he was intent on re-releasing and updating some of that material.   The Focus on the Family website states that the series has been viewed by more than 90 million people worldwide.

Dr. Dobson also joined me recently to discuss his inspiration and involvement in the project, as well as some of the driving principles.  Both Dr. Dobson and Ryan Dobson have each released a book to coincide with the project.

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