Sunday, November 29, 2015

The 3 - November 29, 2015

In this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, there are developments at a VA hospital in Virginia that attempted to restrict expressions of Christmas.  Also, pro-life groups are responding in light of the shooting at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado last Friday.  And, there were developments recently concerning the admitting privileges of abortionists at local hospitals.

3 - Compromise reached about Christmas expressions at Virginia VA hospital 

A controversy at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Virginia originated with an e-mail sent by officials to employees banning Christmas trees in public areas, according to a report on the WORLD Magazine website, which said that the e-mail stated: “Trees (regardless of the types of ornaments used) have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year." The e-mail also noted that religious decorations could be used in employees' “personal work areas,” but any music playing out loud had to be secular and non-religious. And, administrators warned visitors hoping to entertain with Christmas carols about the new rules. John Sines, is quoted in the WORLD piece. He is pastor of Rock Pick Baptist Church, and told Fox News an official informed him he could only sing “holiday songs.”

WORLD referenced a report from NBC that management held a private lunch meeting on Friday, November 20, with about 150 employees and administrators, and agreed to allow Christmas trees in public areas as long as the spaces included Kwanzaa and Hanukkah decorations, as well.  Decorations were not to be purchased with government funds.

The Center posted a “Happy Holidays” memo on its webpage last Tuesday. The opening statement read like an invitation to all religious groups: “May your organization or church group visit VA hospitals over the holiday season to sing Christmas carols for our veterans? Sure. What about the Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths? You are welcome. May you donate cards and gifts if they have a religious message? Of course.”

The memo said the Department of Veterans Affairs desires to protect the First Amendment freedoms of an “increasingly diverse” nation, including its citizens’ expanding religious affiliations and belief systems.

Also, on Tuesday, according to its website, the Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the medical center, taking issue with the Christmas memo that said employees were only “permitted to engage in private religious expression in their personal work areas that are not regularly open to the public” in an effort to extend “a happy holiday season in a manner that is welcoming to all.” ADF contends that the wording of the memo leaves open the possibility that employees could be punished for Christmas decorations or “merry Christmas” greetings to veterans except in personal workstations that are out of public view.

The letter explains that, “It is a fundamental principle of constitutional law that government officials may not censor speech simply because the speech is religious or contains a religious perspective…In Tucker v. State of California Department of Education, for example, the federal court struck down as unconstitutional a policy that prohibited government employees from displaying any religious artifacts, tracts, or materials outside their offices or cubicles, and also prohibited any oral or written religious advocacy in the workplace.”  ADF also points out in its letter that the U.S. Supreme Court has noted that a Christmas tree is not a religious symbol.

2 - Pro-life groups respond after Planned Parenthood shooting, officer/pastor loses life

Pro-life groups are denouncing the violent incident at a Planned Parenthood office in Colorado Springs last Friday. reports that the suspect, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear appears to have no association with the pro-life movement and those who know him say he is an awkward man who never discussed religion or abortion. The profile they paint is far from a caricature of a pro-life activist who has an issue with the Planned Parenthood abortion business and more of a loner or renegade who may have a mental health issue or issues and, at a minimum, is a bit “off.”

Three people died in the rampage, including police officer Garrett Swasey. reports that he was a six-year veteran of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs police force and an elder at Hope Chapel, as well as an accomplished former U.S. figure skater.  The story quotes a statement from his family, which said that: "His greatest joys were his family, his church, and his profession," adding, "Helping others brought him deep satisfaction and being a police officer was a part of him."

The LifeNews story indicates that Dear has a previous arrest record with arrests for animal cruelty and as a “peeping Tom,” according to BuzzFeed. Also, the story states that The Blaze reports that Dear also has domestic violence charges and a DUI charge on his record.

LifeNews quoted from a variety of pro-life leaders, including David Daleiden, who produced the shocking videos showing Planned Parenthood abortion clinics selling aborted babies and their body parts. He is quoted as saying: “The Center for Medical Progress does not support vigilante violence against abortion providers. There are people at Planned Parenthood who I still consider friends and my thoughts and prayers are with them at this time for no one to be injured.”

National Right to Life, in condemning the shooting, said: "...The pro-life movement works to protect the right to life and increase respect for human life. The unlawful use of violence is directly contrary to that goal.”

Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life issued a statement saying: "As leaders in the pro-life movement, we call for calm and pray for a peaceful resolution of this situation." He added,"...nobody jump to conclusions regarding the connection between this violence and the controversy over abortion and Planned Parenthood, and we ask that people do not use this situation to inflame emotions on either side of the abortion issue."

A Brietbart report also said that a law enforcement official pointed to a comment made by Dear to the effect of “no more baby parts,” and made clear that Dear said other things as well. NBC News reported it this way: “Sources stressed that Dear said many things to law enforcement and the extent to which the ‘baby parts’ remark played into any decision to target the Planned Parenthood office was not yet clear.”

1 - Cases involving admitting privileges at hospitals in WI, MO

As the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to consider whether or not a Texas law providing for regulations on abortion clinics, such as admitting privileges at a local hospital, is constitutional, a Columbia, Missouri Planned Parenthood clinic will no longer be offering abortions because a local hospital there has rescinded admitting privileges. reports that Planned Parenthood of Columbia ceased providing medical abortions last Monday because the University of Missouri Health Care has decided to discontinue the privileges. Effective this Tuesday, December 1, abortionist Colleen McNicholas cannot legally provide abortifacients at the location. The hospital had voted in September to no longer offer the “refer and follow” privileges, which allowed Planned Parenthood to obtain permission from the state health department to offer medical abortions. Without those privileges, the center loses any authority to offer abortifacients to mothers.

Meanwhile, a Wisconsin pro-life law, according to, has been struck down by a Federal appeals court.  The website had reported that Gov. Scott Walker approved SB206 in July 2013, which called for increased health standards at abortion facilities, including a requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union immediately filed a lawsuit against the state, and in March of this year, a Federal district judge declared that a woman’s desire to obtain an abortion “is substantially outweighed by the burden this requirement will have on women’s health outcomes due to restricted access to abortions in Wisconsin.”

That opinion was appealed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the decision 2-1 on Tuesday, according to Judge Richard Posner, who was nominated to the bench by then-President Ronald Reagan, wrote for the majority, stating, “What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women’s health — and the abridgment challenged in this case would actually endanger women’s health..."

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