Sunday, September 13, 2015

The 3 - September 13, 2015

In this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature:  there is news from California that the legislative body there has approved a bill allowing physicians to assist dying patients to end their lives.  Also, a Kentucky county clerk who would not issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples is free from jail.  And, a Navy chaplain can now look forward to retirement with no blemishes on his record as the result of the findings of a committee, released just before Labor Day.

3 - California legislature approves physician-assisted suicide bill

In a special legislative session in California, the state Senate voted 23 to 14 to approve the controversial End of Life Option Act, which would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to their dying patients, according to the Christianity Today website, which reported that the lower house, the state Assembly voted earlier in the week 42-33 to approve the bill.

Gov. Jerry Brown had called the session to focus solely on financing for MediCal, the state health insurance program. The story says that he has yet to announce whether he would sign any physician-assisted suicide bill. He has until October 11 to sign or veto the bill.

The story points out that:

Public debate over assisted suicide changed as Californian Brittany Maynard, 29, a terminally ill cancer patient, began public advocacy for it on YouTube and CNN. She moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of Oregon’s Death with Dignity law. She died November 1.

The CT story referred to a Life News story regarding the Assembly vote on Wednesday, which said:

Assembly members didn’t focus on the bill’s language,” said Margaret Dore, president of Choice Is an Illusion, regarding the bill modeled on similar laws in Oregon and Washington State. “The bill is sold as giving people choice and control at the end of life. Yet the bill’s language is stacked against the patient and applies to people with years, even decades, to live.”

There was also a development in the U.K. on the topic on Friday.  According to the Christianity Today story:

Earlier on Friday in the UK, the Parliament delivered a stunning setback to proponents of physician-assisted suicide. Voting 118 to 330, MPs voted down a private member's bill that would allow a "competent" person with a terminal illness to request professional medical assistance in dying.

2 - Kim Davis released from jail, plans to return to work

Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was released from jail on Tuesday, September 8, and a Religion News Service/USA Today report had initially said that she needed time to rest and would not return to work until Friday or Monday, according to attorneys with Liberty Counsel, who are representing Davis.

The Liberty Counsel website reported that Davis would return on Monday.  It quoted her as saying:

I am overwhelmed that people took the time out of their busy lives to write and tell me that they are standing with me. Every letter has been kind and encouraging. I am heartened that God’s people are not huddled up in a corner, but they are standing strong. Standing begins on our knees. I have no doubt that God answers prayer. God is so real to me. He has transformed my life.

The RNS/USA Today story said that U.S. District Judge David Bunning released Davis from jail Tuesday on the condition that she does not interfere with her deputies issuing licenses to same-sex couples. He said he was satisfied that the Rowan County Clerk’s Office would comply with his order. He warned Davis she would be sanctioned again if she violates the conditions of her release.  The judge ordered the court-appointed lawyers for her deputy clerks to provide an update every 14 days on whether they are complying with their sworn pledge to issue licenses to all couples.

The story quotes Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel as saying that Davis had not abandoned her conscience. In a statement, he said: “We are pleased that Kim Davis has been ordered released,” adding that, “she can never recover the past six days of her life spent in an isolated jail cell like a common criminal because of her conscience and religious convictions.”  The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents four couples who sued her, said its goal has been achieved.

1 - Chaplain charged with discrimination against gay people exonerated

A Naval chaplain is now on track to retire after he was cleared of charges brought against him accusing him of being intolerant and insensitive.

The news came down actually on the Friday before Labor Day and has spread in the past week as Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder can now look forward to the next step in a highly regarded Naval career.

The Military Times reported that Modder was given a "detachment for cause" letter in February and ousted from his job after his commander concluded that he was "intolerant" and "unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment" of his current assignment at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina.

The article reports that a high-level review at Navy Personnel Command rejected the commander's recommendation to fire the chaplain, which will clear the way for Modder to retire in good standing as he nears his 20th year of service.

According to the website for Liberty Institute, the legal advocacy organization that defended the chaplain, the controversy began in late 2014, when a handful of sailors complained that they disagreed with the biblical views Chaplain Modder expressed during private counseling sessions, even though the views were in line with the teachings of his faith.    

His former commander, Captain Jon R. Fahs, had labeled Modder “unfit” and requested that the Navy detach the chaplain for cause and send him before a Board of Inquiry, which could have involuntarily removed Modder from the Navy and prematurely ended his career, which was described as "stellar."

The Military Times reported that Rear Adm. David Steindl, the head of Navy Personnel Command NPC and deputy chief of Naval Personnel, wrote a letter to Fahs dated Sept. 3, stating that Navy Personnel Command said the commander's investigation's "evidence of substandard performance in this case does not meet the standard of gross negligence or complete disregard for duty" that is required under Navy rules to warrant a detachment for cause, which is filed into an officer's record and can trigger a board that ends their service.

As it was stated on the Liberty Institute website:

The victory is of wide-ranging importance—as the case was closely watched by Congress, millions of active service and retired personnel, chaplains, and those interested in the future of religious freedom.

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