Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

Voice your values: Legislative action

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Conscience freedom


What Happened to Colonel Who Didn't Want to Praise an Airman's Same-Sex Marriage

The Daily Signal commentary by Tony Perkins

November 16, 2017

"“His career is likely over,” First Liberty Institute’s Michael Berry told Fox News’ Todd Starnes, “and he will likely have to retire as a colonel instead of a general.” Berry, who’s representing Bohannon in the case, could only shake his head. “This sends a clear message—if you do not have the politically correct viewpoint, you are not welcome in the military. The military is no longer a place of diversity and inclusion if you are a person who holds to a traditional belief on marriage.” ... 

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Bill Would Protect Pro-Life Nurses Like These 3 Women

The Daily Signal

November 9, 2017

"Pro-life members of Congress have introduced legislation to protect health care providers from being compelled to provide abortions under threat of losing their jobs. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., held a press conference on the House Triangle outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to promote the Conscience Protection Act. The bill is designed to “end discrimination against people, [insurance] plans and providers for choosing not to be involved in abortion,” according to a statement from Smith. “Health care, my friends, is about saving lives,” Smith said. 'It is about eradicating disease. It’s about mitigating disabilities, not taking the lives of unborn children. At the very least, health care providers should have the right not to be coerced into facilitating abortion.' "

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Conscience Protection Act: 3 Ways to #standwithnurses


November 8, 2017

"Watch our short video about Cathy, a New York City nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion against her deeply-held beliefs. "

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HHS seeks comments on faith-based healthcare

U.S. Dept. Health and Human Services

October 26, 2017

As this Download file HHS Memo Inviting Comments on Faith-Based barriers.pdf explains, the faith-based office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services wants to hear from you about any barriers that faith-based health professionals and organizations face in working with the government. Action Requested: Visit and click "Submit a Formal Comment." Deadline: Nov. 24, 2017. 

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Robert George reflects on Trump admin's latest religious liberty moves

Catholic News Agency

October 11, 2017

"Two sets of announcements by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued Friday both promise to broaden religious freedom protections in the United States. The first announcement, by the HHS department, broadens the religious freedom exemptions to the department’s contraception mandate, which has been facing federal lawsuits from conscientious objectors since its introduction in 2011. The second announcement was a memo issued by the Department of Justice, in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained 20 legal principles all government agencies should consider when dealing with religious freedom concerns. Neither announcement will automatically resolve religious freedom cases currently within the court system.  In an Oct. 6 interview with CNA, Robert George, a professor of constitutional law at Princeton University and visiting professor at Harvard University, explained the implications of these two announcements for religious freedom supporters throughout the country. "


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A Win for Freedom of Conscience

National Review commentary by the Editors

October 11, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced new reforms that would broaden conscience exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, expanding protections beyond small and closely held businesses to publicly traded companies and other employers as well as extending protections not only to those with religious objections but to those with moral objections that are not specifically religious in nature. This is an excellent development: The overbearing contraception mandate was an assault not only on religious liberty but on the legal standing of private conscience itself. (The mandate included types of contraception that, as even the Obama administration’s FDA acknowledged, might instead operate post-conception to prevent implantation and thus kill the early embryo.)"

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Hawaii Pregnancy Centers Go to Court Over Law Requiring They Promote Abortions

The Daily Signal

September 25, 2017

"A conservative legal organization went to court Friday in Hawaii over a law that forces pregnancy care centers to provide free advertising for abortion. “They are requiring pregnancy centers [that] just give away diapers and baby clothes to refer women to the state, to a website that connects them with certainly abortion causing drugs, and … abortionists,” Kevin Theriot, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “This is an important case because Hawaii goes even further than California did, and they are clearly singling out pregnancy centers,” Theriot said. The Hawaii law is similar to a law passed in 2015 in California, which required “licensed medical centers that offer free, pro-life help to pregnant women to post a disclosure saying that California provides free or low-cost abortion and contraception services,” according to Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. "

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Freedom Denied in Minnesota: Court Upholds Law That Forces Filmmakers to Violate Their Faith

Alliance Defending Freedom

September 22, 2017

"Yesterday, a district court in Minnesota ruled against our clients Carl and Angel Larsen, dismissing their lawsuit challenging a state law that would force them to create films that portray a message that contradicts their faith. While this ruling is disappointing, it is not the end. We will appeal. Carl and Angel Larsen own Telescope Media Group, a film production company that seeks to “magnify Christ like a telescope.” While they have done many films for Christian organizations, they are looking to expand the type of work they do. Because Carl and Angel are passionate about marriage, they feel called to film stories that show the beauty and meaning behind marriage as God designed it – a lifelong union between one man and one woman. However, a Minnesota law requires that, if the Larsens film these types of wedding stories, they must also film same-sex weddings." " 'Tolerance is a two-way street. Creative professionals who engage in the expression of ideas shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for having a particular point of view about marriage that the government may not favor,' said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. 'Public officials can’t censor filmmakers or demand that they tell stories in film that violate their deepest convictions.' "

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ACLU Sues Michigan Over Allowing Religious Adoption Organizations to Turn Away Same-Sex Couples


September 21, 2017

"The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan Wednesday over a 2015 law that allows private adoption agencies which receive state contracts and taxpayer funds to 'use religious criteria to screen prospective foster and adoptive parents for children in the foster care system and to turn away qualified families on the basis of sexual orientation.' "  " 'Focus on the Family strongly supports the religious freedom rights of all businesses and organizations, including faith-based adoption agencies," Jim Daly, president of the Christian organization, Focus on the Family commented Wednesday. 'Not only have the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby and Trinity Lutheran decisions reaffirmed long-standing principles by which government should respect the free exercise rights of organizations that seek to operate according to their deeply held beliefs, but such respect enables entities like faith-based adoption agencies to fill a critical need in society,' he said. "

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Critically ill baby Charlie Gard's parents back in court

ABC News

July 21, 2017

A British judge has said the parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard can present new evidence at upcoming hearings to determine his fate.  Judge Nicholas Francis, who has overseen the latest round of hearings in the case at London's High Court, said Friday that parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates could present evidence in full-day hearings early next week.  He said the evidence must be new and relevant to the case.

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Parental and Governmental Authority in Medical Decisions: The Tragic Case of Charlie Gard

The Public Discourse commentary by Melissa Moschella

July 10, 2017

Much ink has been spilled debating whether or not further experimental treatment would be in the best interests of Charlie Gard. That debate is important and worthwhile. But it is not, in fact, the central question at issue in this case. Rather, the central question is: Who has the authority to make this controversial medical decision on Charlie’s behalf? The doctors at Ormond Street Hospital? The British courts? Or Charlie’s parents?

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Senator Lankford Discusses the Weldon Amendment with Sec. Price

Congressional hearing video

June 19, 2017

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) questions HHS Secretary Price about the Weldon Amendment, which bans government coercion regarding abortion, and California's government coercion regarding abortion.

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Trump's Rule on the HHS Contraceptive Mandate Ensures Religious Freedom for All

Inside Sources commentary by Travis Weber

June 12, 2017

A recently leaked draft rule indicating President Trump's response to President Barack Obama's oppressive contraceptive mandate made the rounds. In short, if it becomes the final rule, it is a big win for religious freedom. For nearly seven years, numerous for-profit and non-profit entities, religious institutions and others with conscientious objections to being forced to provide contraceptives and drugs and devices that can destroy human embryos have asked the federal government for a way out of providing them. They only asked to not be put in a position where they have to choose, as a price of following their conscience, between paying crippling fines that could shut them down or dropping the health care for all their employees. The draft rule simply tries to address all concerns. Organizations that want to provide contraceptives can, and the very few organizations that do not want to do not have to - in which case, the objectionable drugs and devices will still be provided, but from another source, such as a third-party administrator.

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House Values Leaders Meet with Secretary Price on Conscience Protections

House Majority Leader

May 1, 2017

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), Chairman Diane Black (TN-06), and Representatives Vicky Hartzler (MO-04), Andy Harris (MD-01), Stephen Knight (CA-25), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Peter Roskam (IL-06), and Chris Smith (NJ-04) released the following statement after meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Tom Price on how the California abortion mandate violates the Weldon Amendment and other ways federal conscience protections were undermined by the previous Administration: "The Weldon Amendment protects health care entities-from hospitals to insurance providers-from being discriminated against by the government if they don't provide or cover abortions, especially if doing so violates their consciences. The last Administration ignored this fact and refused to enforce the law, including in California, where health insurance providers are being forced to offer abortion coverage." (posted 4/26/17)

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Neil Gorsuch Will Strengthen the Fight Against Abortion

TIME op-ed by Jeanne Mancini

March 20, 2017

Gorsuch recently said, "Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures and pains along the way." This point is especially popular with the large majority of American people. According to a January poll from Marist, eight out of ten Americans want a Supreme Court justice who will interpret the Constitution as it was originally written.By recognizing in both Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters v. Burwell that the Affordable Care Act's mandate is oppressive to many consciences, and by showing that even a stillborn baby's rights deserve protection in Pino v. United States, Gorsuch consistently affirms that, as an originalist, he would have all rights to life in mind as a Justice.

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In Religious Freedom Debate, 2 American Values Clash


February 28, 2017

The commission report sparked a protest letter signed by 17 faith leaders, arguing that the report "stigmatizes tens of millions of religious Americans, their communities and their faith-based institutions, and threatens the religious freedom of all our citizens." One of the signers, Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center at the Newseum Institute in Washington, says religious conservatives are entitled to make claims of conscience. "We may not like the claim of conscience," Haynes says, "but you know, we don't judge claims of conscience on whether we like the content of the claim. We are trying to protect the right of people to do what they feel they must do according to their God. That is a very high value." Haynes himself says LGBT rights and same-sex marriage "are very important" but that supporters of those causes "cannot simply declare that one side wins all. Nondiscrimination is a great American principle - it's a core American principle - as is religious freedom," Haynes says. "When you have two important American principles coming into tension, into conflict with one another, our goal as Americans is to sit down and try to see if we can uphold both."

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5 quick ways a new HHS secretary could change health policy

Washington Post

December 5, 2016

Conscience protections: At the very end of the George W. Bush administration, HHS issued rules intended to clarify that health-care professionals did not have to participate in performing abortions, sterilizations or other procedures that violated a “religious belief or moral conviction.” The Obama administration revised the rules dramatically, much to the continuing consternation of conservatives. They are among the few health-related items included on the president-elect’s website, which says, “The Administration will act to protect individual conscience in health care.” Many expect the rules to be reinstituted in their original form.

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Price Tagged for HHS Post

Washington Update commentary by Tony Perkins

November 29, 2016

As the New York Times put it, "If [Trump] wanted a cabinet secretary who could help him dismantle and replace President Obama's health care law, he could not have found anyone more prepared than Representative Tom Price..." For six years, the Georgia Chairman of the House Budget Committee has been leading the charge to topple President Obama's signature failure -- and as the head of the agency in charge of overseeing health care, he'll be in the perfect place to see that goal through to completion. And based on today's polling, he'll have plenty of grassroots support when he does. A whopping eight in 10 Americans told Gallup this month that they'd like to see the law either fully repealed or significantly changed. Only 14 percent approve of the "Affordable" Care Act that continues to crush jobs, medical choices, family budgets, freedom, and conscience. "There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors," Price told reporters, "that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit."

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Freedom of Conscience on Hacksaw Ridge

Breakpoint radio commentary by Eric Metaxas

November 28, 2016

And now there's an amazing, powerful film about one man who was willing to give his life, but whose conscience and deeply held religious beliefs would not allow him to take the lives of others. Mel Gibson's new movie, "Hacksaw Ridge," tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist from the hills of Virginia, who enlisted in the Army with the understanding he could serve as a medic-and therefore not violate his firm belief in "thou shalt not kill." Times in which florists and bakers are being hauled before civil rights commissions, being fined, losing their businesses; times in which pharmacists in Washington State can lose their licenses for refusing to dispense abortion pills; times in which churches in Massachusetts can run afoul of "public accommodation" laws requiring gender neutral bathrooms-we do indeed have a model in Desmond Doss.

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Donald Trump Provides Details of Health Care Policies

US News & World Report

November 11, 2016

The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump has released an outline of his health care proposals with details of his intention to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. The proposals on the website have been previously articulated by Republicans, and the posts included other conservative policies on issues like abortion. The post said new administration will "protect individual conscience in health care" and "protect innocent human life from conception to natural death, including the most defenseless and those Americans with disabilities." Andrew Bremberg, who worked at the Department of Health and Human Services under former President George W. Bush, will be leading the transition effort for the agency under Trump's administration. (HHS job seekers: Three steps to landing a job in the new administration)

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Returning Power to the Patient: A 10-Point Prescription

Freedom2Care blog post by Jonathan Imbody

November 1, 2016

The following ten steps outline in broad strokes an approach that a new administration and Congress can take to begin to build a healthcare system driven by proven medical and economic principles.... 7. Enforce the bipartisan conscience laws that protect some of our best doctors from discrimination and job loss simply because they follow the Hippocratic oath and won't participate in abortions, or because they base their decisions about controversial treatments on medical evidence and not government social policy.

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Catholic health workers face crisis of conscience

Catholic Register

October 22, 2016

(Canada) Given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy that forces doctors to provide an "effective referral" for any recognized, legal medical procedure or treatment, even in those cases where the doctor objects on moral or religious grounds, there is great fear among members of the Doctors' Guild they will be forced to refer for assisted suicide. The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience is taking the College of Physicians' and Surgeons of Ontario (CSPO) to court over its "Professional obligations and human rights" policy. The policy states, "Where physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient. An effective referral means a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician." This would apply to requests for medically assisted suicide. The demand isn’t often prompted by untreatable, crippling pain, said Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director and international chair Alex Schadenberg. “Some people are asking for voluntary euthanasia and it has nothing to do with palliative care. It has to do with their attitudes towards autonomy or radical control and their fear of suffering,” he said.

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Religious freedom and healthcare -- what our candidates should know

The Hill commentary by Jonathan Imbody

October 17, 2016

I've enjoyed the rare opportunity to advise both presidential campaigns this election season, and in each instance I have highlighted the link between First Amendment freedoms and patient access to healthcare. Freedom of faith, conscience and speech in healthcare has come under fire domestically and internationally in recent years, as politicians pander to special interest groups by mandating ideological conformity on issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Regardless of one's stance on controversial social issues, sound practical considerations and compassion for needy patients should quell cries to coerce health professionals - particularly those professionals motivated by their faith - into ideological conformity.

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Trampling on health care providers' consciences

Religion News Service commentary by Charles Camosy

September 6, 2016

A. Imagine you are a Christian physician in late first-century, pagan Rome when a patient comes to you with his just-born child who, because she is a girl, he wants you to kill by giving her hemlock. B. Imagine you are a Catholic physician living in Nazi Germany working in the psych ward of a Catholic hospital when a patient who initially asked you to admit his mentally ill daughter now asks you to kill her so she is no longer a drain on the Reich's resources. You cannot participate in either act, of course, without violating a fundamental part of who you are. But signatories of the Geneva statement would insist you either assist the patient in killing his child or refer your patient "to another practitioner who is willing" to help kill his child.

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Why a Nurse and a Pastor Object to Being Forced to Help Abort Babies

Daily Signal by Leah Jessen

September 4, 2016

A pastor and a nurse want Congress to pass legislation that would allow Americans the freedom to opt out of the abortion process. Chris Lewis, lead pastor of Foothill Church in Glendora, California, says his congregation doesn't want to be coerced into covering abortions on employee health insurance plans. Lewis spoke on Capitol Hill at a House forum in July on conscience rights, urging Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act. Among about eight others who spoke was a nurse of 26 years, Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya. "I became a nurse to help people, but not to do harm," Vinoya said. In 2014, the state of California issued an order requiring all health insurance plans to cover abortion, without a religious exemption.

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Religious, pro-life conscience unwelcome in healthcare

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

July 22, 2016

Healthcare is quickly becoming about much more than the provision and reception of medical treatment. To a disturbing degree, healthcare public policy is becoming a means of imposing a secularist, anti-sanctity-of-life ideology on all of society. The ACLU is suing to prevent Catholic hospitals that follow Church teaching from receiving federal funds. Most recently, in Vermont, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit to try to prevent state authorities from forcing doctors to counsel their terminally ill patients about assisted suicide (which is legal in the state) even if they consider it a profound moral wrong to participate in doctor-prescribed death. This is the message being sent by the secularist attempt to stifle medical conscience: Sanctity of life has no place in healthcare.

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Pass the Conscience Protection Act

Washington Times commentary by Rep. Chris Smith

July 12, 2016

On June 22nd, I was part of a group of lawmakers led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy who met with Health and Human Services (HHS )Secretary Sylvia Burwell and HHS Director of the Office for Civil Rights Jocelyn Samuels to respectfully ask why the Administration has refused to enforce the Weldon federal conscience law in the case of California's two-year-old draconian, coercive abortion order. The state of California forces all insurance plans under its purview-and the people and institutions that pay the premiums-to subsidize abortion on demand. Yet, the Weldon federal conscience law authored by former Congressman Dave Weldon of Florida and continuously in effect for over a decade-is explicit and comprehensive. It says in pertinent part that it is illegal for any "discrimination" against any health care entity "on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of or refer for abortions." The law's definition of health care entity explicitly includes "a health insurance plan." Despite the absolute clarity of Weldon in extending Federal conscience protection to health insurance plans, HHS's Burwell and Samuels insisted that health insurance plans weren't covered by Weldon-they said the insurance companies were covered but weren't objecting (which is irrelevant)-and on that point concluded that the injured parties including the Catholic Church lacked standing to obtain relief.

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Forum on Conscience Protections

U.S. House Representatives

July 8, 2016


Marie-Alberte Boursiquot, M.D. - Pres., Catholic Medical Association - Prepared remarks

William J. “Bill” Cox – President, Alliance of Catholic Health Care - Prepared remarks

Cathy DeCarlo – Nurse, New York - Prepared remarks

Richard Doerflinger – Former AD Secretariat Pro-Life Activities, USCCB - Prepared remarks

Pastor Jim Garlow – Skyline Church, La Mesa, California - Prepared remarks

Donna J. Harrison, M.D. – Executive Director of AAPLOG - Prepared remarks

Pastor Chris Lewis – Foothill Church, Glendora, California - Prepared remarks

Casey Mattox – Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom - Prepared remarks

Fe Vinoya – Nurse, New Jersey - Prepared remarks

Dr. Dave Weldon – former Member of Congress and author, Weldon Amendment - Prepared remarks

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Obama Administration Refuses to Enforce 'Right of Conscience,' Legal Group Says

Daily Signal commentary by Leah Jessen

July 1, 2016

Jocelyn Samuels, director of the federal agency's Office for Civil Rights, wrote in the response letter: "A finding that [California Department of Managed Health Care] has violated the Weldon Amendment might require the government to rescind all funds appropriated under the Appropriations Act to the state of California." Rescinding the taxpayer money, Samuels added, "would raise substantial questions about the constitutionality of the Weldon Amendment." Addressing that position, Alliance Defending Freedom's Casey Mattox said, "The Obama administration says enforcing the Weldon Amendment against California would violate the Constitution because you would be withholding all of these funds from the state. Which is very interesting because at the exact same time, you have the administration telling North Carolina that it's going to withhold funds under the exact same appropriations bill."

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SCOTUS' Failure to Review Washington State's Coercive Regulation Disturbing

Rep. Randy Forbes and Sen. James Lankford

June 29, 2016

Congressman Forbes: "The Supreme Court's refusal to review Washington State's extreme and unnecessary regulations is, in the words of Justice Alito, "an ominous sign" for religious freedom in America. It is possible to both respect the religious beliefs of a pharmacist and also help customers secure the prescription they are seeking. As a nation founded on the fundamental right of religious freedom, the United States has a tradition of protecting the conscientious objector that has endured throughout our history, but the Court has done great damage to these protections by allowing Washington's regulation to stand."
Senator Lankford: "This decision by the Supreme Court denies the free exercise of religion as a fundamental human right. In order to exercise this right, individuals must be able to live out their faith in the public square; otherwise, the right is relegated simply to the freedom of worship. With this case, the Court put the right to contraceptives above the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Conscience protection has always been honored in America, until now. This decision allows any government to compel a person to violate their faith or surrender their family business. That is un-American.

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It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies

Heritage Foundation presentation by Mary Eberstadt

June 28, 2016

Clashes between religious believers on one side and the state and elite culture on the other have reached a fevered pitch. This has resulted in an unprecedented erosion of religious liberty as defenders of our first freedom are demonized as "hateful and bigoted." In her new book, It's Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies, Mary Eberstadt shines a spotlight on liberal intolerance of traditional religious belief and believers. By laying out the evidence of intimidation and discrimination in law, on campus, in the workplace, and throughout public life, she makes an implicit plea: How can such deeply conflicting world views live together in a pluralistic society? Does anyone really want to shut down faith-based charities that help the sick and feed the hungry simply because they insist on living their faith rather than by a secularist creed? Eberstadt argues that we are at a turning point and provides a guide for moving forward toward the kind of tolerance for which liberalism once stood.

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AUL Calls on Washington State to Repeal Discriminatory Rule Designed to Punish Pharmacists

Americans United for Life

June 28, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined an opportunity to hear Stormans v. Wiesman, a challenge to a 2007 Washington Board of Pharmacy rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners with religious objections to stocking drugs with known life-ending effects. "Despite this missed opportunity to correct an unconstitutional abuse of power, the Washington State rule that punishes pharmacists and pharmacy owners who respect unborn life can and should be immediately repealed," said Clarke Forsythe, AUL Acting President and Senior Counsel. He noted that Justice Samuel Alito began his dissent to the Supreme Court's refusal to review the discriminatory rule, writing, "This case is an ominous sign."

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Former nurse sues Winnebago County Health Department


June 9, 2016

A former Rockford nurse files a lawsuit with the Winnebago County Health Department after she says she was fired because of her religious beliefs. According to the filed complaint, Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell merged pediatrics with women's health services and mandated that all nurses train to provide abortion referrals. Mendoza says when she informed her boss that she would not be participating because that would interfere with her religious beliefs, she says Martell gave her the ultimatum to either quit or take a job as a food inspector. Mendoza's attorney, Noel Sterett, says state law protects her and her beliefs. Mendoza is seeking damages under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. There is a bill that would force doctors and nurses to promote and perform abortions despite their personal beliefs. That is currently awaiting the approval of Governor Bruce Rauner.

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Illinois Passes Bill Forcing Every Doctor, Pharmacist and Pregnancy Center to Promote Abortion


May 26, 2016

Illinois came one step closer to forcing its pro-life medical community to choose between violating state law and violating deeply held religious conscience Wednesday, as the state's House approved Senate Bill 1564 and set the legislation on the governor's desk. Originally put forward in the summer of 2015, the legislation would require pro-life medical providers, including 51 Illinois nonprofit pregnancy centers offering free services including ultrasound and STI testing, to take action the bill's opponents say amounts to participating in an abortion. Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said, "This Amendment takes away the rights of Illinois women to be treated by a pro-life doctor, because it would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to performing abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions,"

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United Healthcare's Obamacare Drop Erodes The Conscience Safety Net

The Federalist commentary by Casey Mattox and Chuck Donovan

May 10, 2016

Today people disagree on a profound range of ethically grounded decisions about practices, from abortion to in vitro fertilization to assisted suicide, that go to the heart of what citizens believe properly constitutes health care. Combine these deepening differences with a tendency to bureaucratize and centralize health-care financing and administration, and profound clashes are sure to follow. It is nearly impossible for average citizens to discern whether their plans cover elective abortion before enrolling, much less the import of that fact—that they are paying a hidden abortion surcharge. UH’s exit is not just a sign of the economic problems facing Obamacare; it may also expose more Americans to the “choice” to pay for elective abortions or be fined. 

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Resist or Accommodate Evil: There is No "Third Way"

Witherspoon Institute commentary by Jeffery J. Ventrella

May 1, 2016

[orig. pub. 1/27/15] The simple truth is this: one need not be required to take innocent life before one ought to be able to stand firm in one’s conscience against an unjust law. As the tradition teaches, even the tiniest pinch of incense to Caesar is too much compromise for a well-formed conscience. Indeed, stopping an unjust law before it leads to innocent bloodshed is morally preferable, is it not? Ask King—or, if you prefer, St. Thomas More, Maximilian Kolbe, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When conscience flirts with the idea of accommodating an unjust law, it must politely, yet firmly, reject the sirens of seduction. Any other result would be—in a word—compromise.

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Growing Intolerance Threatens Rights of Conscience of Health Care Workers

CNS News commentary by Lynn Wardle

March 29, 2016

Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. For example, in the U.S. Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at a hospital in New York City, was reportedly forced to participate in a gruesome, violent, dismemberment abortion over her objections. She was told that if she did not participate in the abortion of a 22-week-old fetus she would be charged with "insubordination and patient abandonment" which would jeopardize her nursing license and her job.

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Little Sisters, Little Pills: It's All About Power

The Stream commentary by Cathy Ruse

March 24, 2016

If they follow their Catholic beliefs, the Little Sisters will have to pay the federal government a fine of $100 per employee per day. This fine bears no relation to the cost of the insurance coverage at issue. It is utterly punitive-intended to make the nuns bend the knee at the altar of a new god. The Supreme Court has upheld a right to contraception and abortion, but never the right to get them for free. This case is not about rights, it is about power. The administration gave an outright exemption to churches. It could exempt religious nonprofit schools and soup kitchens and the Little Sisters, too, but decided to keep them on the hook.

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A Warning from Canada on Assisted Suicide: Physicians' Conscience Rights at Stake

CNS commentary by Lynn Wardle

March 18, 2016

One of the most disturbing recommendations in the Report proposes that all Canadian physicians have a legal duty either to provide Medical Assistance in Dying ("MAID") or to provide an "effective referral" to someone who will provide MAID. Recommendation 10 subordinates the values, rights and ethical interests of the health care provider who objects to providing MAID to the wishes of a patient who seeks MAID. It concludes: "At a minimum, the objecting practitioner must provide an effective referral for the patient."

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Catholic health provider cautious about assisted dying ahead of new law

City News (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

February 26, 2016

The memo from management at Providence Health Care says that while the organization currently forbids the practice, it will monitor and conform to the law as it takes shape. Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on physician-assisted dying, and the government has until June 6 to come up with replacement legislation. "(Physician-assisted dying) contradicts the basic tenets of Catholic health care, wherein life is held to be sacred from conception to natural death, and not permitted in Catholic health care institutions such as Providence," read the memo. Requests for assisted suicide from patients who have secured the required exemption from B.C. Supreme Court will be treated on a case-by-case basis to find a final solution, said the document [emphasis added]. Forcing these institutions to offer a service that infringes on their religious beliefs tramples on their constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion, said Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, in a statement.

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Broad support for pharmacists' freedom, near-unanimous opposition to Wash. state policy

Alliance Defending Freedom

February 8, 2016

Fourteen briefs have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court that encourage it to weigh in on Washington state rules that force pharmacy owners and pharmacists to stock and dispense drugs contrary to their religious beliefs instead of allowing them to refer customers to other pharmacies and pharmacists as they are allowed to do in all 49 other states. The state allows referrals for a variety of reasons but singles out religiously motivated referrals as prohibited. "No one should be forced to choose between following their deepest religious beliefs and following an unjust, unneeded government mandate that targets only people of faith. The briefs filed with the Supreme Court agree that this kind of hostility to religion isn't constitutional or the least bit necessary," said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Vice President of Legal Services Kristen Waggoner.

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Could it soon be illegal for doctors to believe in male and female?

CNA commentary by Loredana Vuoto

February 3, 2016

A current proposal by a federal agency has raised concerns that doctors may be punished for believing that there are only two genders, rooted in biological sex. Gender identity is defined as "an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth." As a result, doctors and medical institutions could be penalized - or even forced out of business - if they are not willing to perform or facilitate sex reassignment surgeries and other "gender transition" treatments for individuals who identify as transsexual. Critics of the suggested regulation say that it is a radical proposal that could result in severe penalties for doctors who cannot in good conscience comply.

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Republicans accuse Obama of failing to enforce abortion law

The Hill

January 29, 2016

"The Office of Civil Rights knows this is an important issue, as you have said, and that time is of the essence," Burwell told lawmakers. That was 11 months ago. With no results to speak of, Republican lawmakers are crying foul. "I think that [President Obama] ought to go back and read the Constitution, because he is not upholding what has been passed by Congress," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.). "Congress passed the law. He ought to enforce the law. That's his job." Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, said he had raised the issue with Burwell by phone, but that all he hears back is "they're investigating." "They just blow you off, basically," he added.

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Video: Nurse forced to participate in late-term abortion


November 13, 2015

Cathy Cenzon DeCarlo, RN, was forced by her employer to participate in a late-term abortion against her deeply held pro-life beliefs--a violation of her conscience rights. Watch video.

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Love Wins...Or Else

First Things commentary by Andrew Walker

July 1, 2015

Notice what Kennedy says and does not say. He says the First Amendment is an excellent predicate for allowing one's beliefs to continue to be taught. Okay. But he gives no deference to that inconvenient clause of the First Amendment that insists upon the free exercise of religion, which signifies a lot more than simply the right to "teach" one's views in the abstract. Religious teaching, contra Kennedy, is doctrinal, of course. But if doctrine is worth anything, it's worth something because Christianity, along with all religions, believes its orthodoxy is personally and socially transformative.

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Canada's bishops call for conscience protection as assisted-suicide decision is implemented

Catholic World News

May 26, 2015

Three months after Canada's high court overturned legislation against assisted suicide, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the nation's attorney general to be included in upcoming public consultations on the decision's implementation. "The Court's ruling not only erodes society's appreciation for human life, but also the trust and confidence all people, particularly those most vulnerable, should have in medical personnel and health-care institutions to protect their lives," said Archbishop Paul-André Durocher of Gatineau.

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In Illinois, Bishops and Pro-Life Groups Differ on ACLU Conscience Bill

National Catholic Register

May 13, 2015

Anna Paprocki, staff counsel for Americans United for Life and an Illinois resident, said S.B. 1564's suggested protocols turn the state's existing conscience protections into "a false promise. You can have a conscientious objection to abortion, but you still have to tell patients about abortion and the so-called benefits of abortion," she said. Paprocki explained that the consensus among pro-life organizations is that the law's requirements would involve pro-life health professionals and facilities promoting abortion by giving such information. "You have to reasonably believe that these people may perform abortions when you give out this information," she said. "So now we're asking crisis-pregnancy centers to hand out information on places they reasonably believe will perform abortions, and that violates their consciences and violates the core mission of crisis-pregnancy centers."

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Lethal injections: a prescription for state religious freedom laws

The Hill commentary by Jordan Lorence

April 22, 2015

The issue pertinent here is not whether the death penalty for convicted murderers is moral or not. The issue is whether the state should be able to force people to help facilitate an execution against their will. And it raises the greater question of when the government, in general, can compel people to act against their beliefs. That is why we need state laws like the religious freedom law that the federal government and 20 other states have approved, and that the North Carolina Legislature is currently considering. Government exercises its actions through coercion, and sometimes, the government can achieve its end without compelling those with a moral objection to participate in something that violates their conscience.

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The First Line of Defense: Freedom of Conscience

Red State commentary by Randall Brandt

March 17, 2015

We must preserve and promote freedom of conscience. We must promote understanding of and respect for freedom of conscience and belief as an inherent aspect of whom each of us are as human beings and as essential to respect each individual's inherent dignity.

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Obama tells faith-based groups they must refer refugee children for abortions

Life Site News

February 20, 2015

The Obama administration is getting ready to issue new rules requiring charities to provide abortions to child refugees entering the US without their parents. Faith-based groups say this is a contravention of the rights of parents and a violation of the conscience rights of faith-based groups helping resettle the children. The rules require faith-based providers to make referrals for emergency contraception, partner with groups which provide abortion, or notify the federal government which would make arrangements for the abortion.

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Canadian doctors blast plans to force them into helping patients procure abortion

LifeSite News

February 17, 2015

Christian doctors across Canada are vowing to challenge the constitutionality of the requirement now being considered by the Saskatchewan medical profession that all its members be required to perform abortions or assist at suicides—or refer patients to other doctors who will. “This is moral genocide,” Saskatoon emergency room doctor Philip Fitzpatrick says of the policy, already approved in principle without consultation with doctors or the public by the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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Here's How the Media Got the Latest Religious Liberty Bill Wrong

Daily Signal Commentary by Ryan Anderson

December 13, 2014

Finishing off a week that was pretty bad for the media, CBS News is now spinning a story about a Michigan religious freedom bill. Their headline reads: "Bill would let Michigan doctors, EMTs refuse to treat gay patients." But the bill does nothing of the sort. The bill, passed by the Michigan House last week, is the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And, as the legal scholar Ed Whelan points out, "the bill is modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, [and] at least 19 other states have enacted laws modeled on the federal RFRA, and nothing remotely like what CBS News alleges has ever happened anywhere."

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Freedom of Conscience Protected in Virginia


December 13, 2014

The pharmacist contacted the ACLJ after she received a notice stating that the Board of Pharmacy was initiating an investigation based on the complaint. We sent a letter to the Board asking that the case be closed and resolved in her favor "because her actions were fully consistent with Virginia law and regulations and, by the Complainant's own admission, did not harm the Complainant's daughter in any way." Our letter cited numerous previous cases in which we have represented pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals who conscientiously object, on religious or moral grounds, to personally participating in or facilitating the use of certain procedures or drugs because they end a human life.

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Economic tyranny trumps religious liberty

Washington Examiner commentary by Michael Novak

November 10, 2014

Actions and convictions gain power and permanence in the real world only where the capacities for free economic action are well protected. For religion does not live in conscience alone but in its capacities to act in the world, and to work for the coming of the good, the true, the beautiful, and the self-sacrificing assistance to others to transform this real, concrete Earth of ours. So to act, it must have the wherewithal secured above all by certain economic rights: among them, the ownership and use of private property, the right of association, the right to personal economic initiative, and the right to create new sources of wealth and well-being.

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Following evangelicals, traditional Catholics create a health insurance alternative

Religion News Service

October 6, 2014

Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs. Christ Medicus Foundation CURO, as the group is called, will be financially integrated with Samaritan Ministries International, which was launched in 1991 by an evangelical home-schooling dad. The SMI network now serves 125,000 people and is exempt from the Affordable Care Act. "Think about the Gospels and how the Apostles lived," said CMF CURO director Louis A. Brown Jr. at the program's Washington, D.C., debut. "They very much shared and cared for each other.

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Conscience & Abortion in California

National Catholic Reporter

October 3, 2014

A new requirement from the state of California's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) demands that all health insurance plans in the state, except self-insured plans and those covered by ERISA, cover elective abortions, including late term abortions, labeling such procedures a "basic health service." "The ACA is very clear on this, recognizing the divisiveness of this issue and it respected pluralism of opinions about abortion," said Bill Cox, President of the Alliance of Catholic Health Care, in a phone interview yesterday.

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If Policy Makers Cared About Data, They'd Care About Freedom of Religion or Belief

The Weekly Number

September 15, 2014

Based on these trends and empirical relationships, it is therefore in the interest of policy makers throughout the world to respect and protect freedom of religion or belief (FoRB), because FoRB promotes peace and stability, respects diversity, guards the rights of minorities and women, and creates environments where economic competitiveness flourishes and sustainable development is possible. It is also in the interests of businesses to protect religious freedom within their companies and communities. Indeed, businesses are at the crossroads of culture, creativity and commerce, and therefore can and should be among the most FoRB-Friendly institutions on earth.

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U.S. Senate Democrats Take Aim at Conscience Protections

National Right to Life News Today

July 17, 2014

U.S. Senate Democrats yesterday sought to advance the so-called "Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act" (S. 2578), a sweeping bill that, if enacted, would further empower the Obama Administration to mandate coverage of the abortion pill RU-486, surgical abortion (including late abortions), or anything else it chooses to classify as "preventive services," overriding all existing federal laws that protect religious freedom and conscience rights. "All Americans should rightly be concerned that every Senate Democrat supported a bill to trample on our rights of conscience," said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life.

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Blumenthal's Abortion Omnibus

National Review Online commentary by Thomas Messner

July 15, 2014

Cynically titled the "Women's Health Protection Act of 2013," S. 1696 currently has 35 Senate co-sponsors. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal introduced the pro-abortion measure last November. S. 1696 is extreme, ideological, and biased. S. 1696 could be interpreted to trump state and federal conscience protections.

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AUL Calls Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Common-sense

June 30, 2014

The briefs were filed by an all-woman team of four AUL attorneys on behalf of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, Christian Medical Association, National Catholic Bioethics Center, Physicians for Life, National Association of Pro Life Nurses, Drury Development Corporation, Drury Southwest, Inc., Drury Hotels Company, LLC, and the National Association of Catholic Nurses. Click here to read the brief. “Real healthcare respects life,” noted Dr. Yoest. “Whether the issue is punishing Americans for their beliefs, pushing life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, or creating new income streams for the abortion industry, the anti-life implications of Obamacare are far reaching.”

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Pro-Life Leaders Respond to Hobby Lobby Decision

Citizen Link

June 30, 2014

"This is a much-needed victory for faith freedoms, because this administration continues its assault on the values of the faith community. We are witnessing increasing attempts by the government to coerce the faith community to adopt the government's viewpoint in matters of conscience."--David Stevens, CEO of Christian Medical Association

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Religious freedom panel transcript

ERLC: Russell Moore, Rick Warren, David Platt, Sam Rodriguez

June 9, 2014

Rick Warren: "The Constitution doesn't guarantee freedom of worship; it guarantees freedom of religion, which is the freedom to practice. If I only have the freedom of worship, then that means the only freedom I have is inside a building one hour a week, I don't have the chance to build my business on my convictions, raise my family on my convictions, train and educate my children, all of these issues. The first amendment, religious freedom is called America's first freedom for intentional reasons."

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Doctors who oppose morning-after pill on conscience grounds face qualifications bar

[London] Telegraph

May 1, 2014

Doctors and nurses who object to providing controversial emergency contraception on moral or religious grounds are being barred from specialist professional qualifications under official guidelines. They class Roman Catholics and others motivated by pro-life beliefs as "ineligible" for important qualifications provided by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) even if they complete the training programme. It led to accusations that the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, a branch of the RCOG, is unfairly discriminating against medical staff who act on grounds of conscience.

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Rep. Black Holds Press Conference on HHS Mandate

Video - Office of Rep. Diane Black

March 25, 2014

Today, Congressman Diane Black (R-TN) held a press conference following Supreme Court oral arguments in the landmark cases Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius. Other Members who participated were Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Vicki Hartzler (R-MO), Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Kevin Brady (R-TX), James Lankford (R-OK) and Joe Pitts (R-PA). Congressman Black is the author of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

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Hobby Lobby case creates unexpected allies in Dershowitz and Starr

Washington Post

March 25, 2014

The two convened at the Willard Hotel on Monday, the day before oral arguments in the case were presented to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a delightful back-and-forth punctuated by yarns and anecdotes, the two legal luminaries affirmed at least two points of agreement: (1) separation of church and state is good for religion; (2) corporations are people and people are corporations (echo Mitt Romney?) and, therefore, Hobby Lobby should be permitted an exemption from the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Pentagon rules under scrutiny by religious rights proponents

Washington Times

February 1, 2014

"Overall, we're very optimistic with caution," said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. "If you really look at it, the accommodation is there to protect religious liberty. Religious expression, counseling and ministry are very, very important, and can and should be accommodated in the armed forces." The issue received an airing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when members of a House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel issues closely questioned Pentagon officials over reports that military chaplains were facing bias and restrictions for their beliefs on issues such as same-sex marriage.

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The nuns fight back

New York Post editorial

January 26, 2014

The Little Sisters of the Poor seem to have taken the lesson. Because they just sent President Obama to the mat over his contraceptive mandate. In a ruling that includes no dissent, the Supreme Court did not simply stay an order: It enjoined the executive branch from enforcing the mandate on the sisters while the case is pending before the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals. Though it is an issue decided on procedural grounds, it is a big victory for both the sisters and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented them.

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Obama vs. the Little Sisters

NRO commentary by Rich Lowry

January 7, 2014

It takes some doing to get embroiled in a court fight with nuns who provide hospice care for the indigent. Amazingly, the Obama administration has managed it. Its legal battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor is the logical consequence of Obamacare's conscience-trampling contraception mandate.

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A revealing case about the Administration and religious conscience

Wall Street Journal editorial

January 3, 2014

But the White House wants to make an ideological statement, and so Mr. Verrilli is in effect telling the nuns that they don't understand their own church teachings and that signing the contract doesn't really tread upon their religious beliefs. This case is simply a raw assertion of state power directing the religious to follow orders. Thus ObamaCare forces women who have taken a vow of chastity and minister for the dying to implicate themselves in what they consider to be grave moral wrongs.

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Conscience Gets Lost in Obamacare Maze

Sarah Torre, Heritage Foundation

October 18, 2013

But we really shouldn't be surprised at this bewildering system, where hidden premiums and restricted consumer choice are further muddled at the direction of special interest groups. Obamacare's capacity to confuse stems from the law's power to control. Americans, told that their consciences are of no consequence, are left with few tools to scale the high walls of confusing regulations built by unelected bureaucrats in search of health care that meets their family's needs and aligns with their values.

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Christians relay stories of religious repression

Washington Times

October 13, 2013

The Survey of Religious Hostility in America has found about 1,200 current incidents of religious persecution - about twice as many as last year, the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council said in a report. The survey tallies challenges to public prayer in schools and in public events, efforts to remove crosses on veterans memorials, and rejection of public displays of Nativity scenes and the Ten Commandments. It also includes cases in which companies with religious convictions are forced to abide by health care rules that require coverage for "abortion-inducing" products.

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Suit challenges HHS mandate on social justice grounds

Catholic News Agency

October 11, 2013

The owner of a U.S. manufacturing business is filing an appeal to the Supreme Court over the HHS mandate, both because it violates his religious beliefs and because it interferes with his ability to treat his workers justly. "I've never checked my faith at the door when I walked into the for-profit business arena" John Kennedy, owner of Autocam, told CNA Oct. 8, explaining that the company's generous health care benefits are "part of our mission as employers ... to treat our employees justly."

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What Obamacare means to Little Sisters of the Poor

Mario Diaz in Washington Times

October 10, 2013

For many on the outside looking in, Sister Bernard's devotion is unparalleled, but according to the Obama administration, she and her fellow laborers are not religious enough to deserve a "religious exemption" under Obamacare. Churches and other religious organizations are exempted, but not the Little Sisters of the Poor.

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Church teaching inspires physicians to promote life

National Catholic Register

September 4, 2013

John Brehany referenced a poll that showed that 88% of patients want doctors to share their morals, and they also want conscience protections for doctors. Health-care professionals need to engage and educate their patients about the current threats to conscience, since most patients "assume everything is fine," Brehany added.

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Remember When Conscience Was Cool?

Kellie Fiedorek in National Review Online

August 29, 2013

Just as the Panera Bread or Whole Foods business approach is integral to their larger mission, many other businesses believe their unique values are fundamental to the business models they have built. Increasingly, however, when businesses' values are at odds with the prevailing opinion of government officials and leftist activist groups, they suffer persecution.

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Doctor-ethicist sees ongoing efforts to weaken conscience protections

Pilot Catholic News

August 23, 2013

Dr. John Brehany, executive director and ethicist of the Catholic Medical Association, said with the passage of the new health care law, commonly called Obamacare, "the federal government is posing real threats to faithful health care professionals. While Obamacare itself does have a couple of conscience-protection provisions built in, the fact is, if you look at the big picture, which are the old federal laws and what was achieved from 1973 to 2004, we are now missing some important protections, and we are now vague on how these old laws will carry forward into the future."

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Religious Freedom Is About More Than Religion

Robert George in Wall Street Journal

July 25, 2013

The British religious thinker John Henry Newman observed in 1874 that "conscience has rights because it has duties." We honor the rights of conscience in matters of faith because people must be free to fulfill what they believe to be their solemn duties. Since America's founding, the country has honored this form of liberty. Today, when religious freedom in many parts of the world is under siege, one of the aims of U.S. foreign policy should be to combat such intolerance-not just because religious freedom reduces the risk of sectarian conflict, but more fundamentally because it protects the liberty that is central to human dignity.

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What Is Religious Freedom?

Robert George in Public Discourse

July 24, 2013

Conscience is one's last best judgment specifying the bearing of moral principles one grasps, yet in no way makes up for oneself, on concrete proposals for action. Conscience identifies our duties under a moral law that we do not ourselves make. It speaks of what one must do and what one must not do.

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What conscience really means

Robert George in National Review Online

July 12, 2013

Authentic conscience is not a writer of permission slips to act on feelings or desires. Rather, in the words of the brilliant 19th-century English intellectual John Henry Newman, "Conscience is a stern monitor." It is one's last best judgment - an unsentimentally self-critical judgment - informed by critical reason and reflective faith of one's strict duties, one's feelings or desires to the contrary notwithstanding.

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Conscience coalition

JC Derrick for World Magazine

July 2, 2013

"To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here we stand; we can do no other. God help us."

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Obamacare Regulation Effectively Bars Catholics from Owning Health Insurance Companies

Terence P. Jeffrey in

July 2, 2013

The final version of Obamacare's "preventive services" regulation that the Department of Health and Human Services published on Friday discriminates against faithful members of the Roman Catholic Church by effectively barring them from owning and operating health-insurance companies. This is because the regulation orders health insurance companies to provide sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs to all female beneficiaries except those insured by "religious employers"--which, according to the regulation, includes only actual "houses of worship" (n.b. parish churches), their immediate auxiliaries, associations of houses of worship and the "exclusively religious activities of any religious order."

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Largo firm wins exemption from contraception mandate

Tampa Tribune

June 26, 2013

A Largo electric company won't have to cover certain contraceptives under its employee health plan after a federal judge Monday issued a preliminary injunction freeing the company from a controversial provision under the Affordable Care Act. "I fought the law and the Lord won!" exclaimed a jubilant Thomas Beckwith, owner of Beckwith Electric Co., who argued the "Obamacare" contraceptive mandate violated his religious beliefs.

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Natural Lawyer: 'Conscience and Its Enemies,' by Robert P. George

New York Times book review

June 23, 2013

In the end, you don't have to agree with any of this to support the central message of "Conscience and Its Enemies." George's book is more than anything a plea for liberty of conscience, or more specifically, for religious liberty. Religion, he reasons, should be thought of as "conscientious truth-seeking regarding the ultimate sources of meaning and value" and, therefore, "a crucial dimension of human well-being and fulfillment." George, in other words, speaks for a sizable number of conscientious objectors to America's ruling liberal secularism.

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Religious Freedom: A Civil-Rights Issue

National Review Online

May 29, 2013

People who are opposed to same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs can be accused of marital-status discrimination in addition to sexual-orientation discrimination. Such individuals will increasingly be required to check their religious beliefs at the entrance to the public square - and with an ever expanding public square, that means confining religious practice to the home and house of worship.

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Appeals courts mull ‘Obamacare’ contraception mandate

Washington Times

May 26, 2013

Hobby Lobby, the Oklahoma-based craft-store corporation and most well known of the corporate plaintiffs, made its case before the entire 10th Circuit Court of Appeals the next day, and the 3rd and 6th circuit courts are scheduled to hear arguments from two more plaintiffs Thursday and June 11.
Adele Keim, a lawyer at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, attended the Denver arguments while her colleague, Kyle Duncan, delivered arguments on behalf of the Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby. She said it was clear that the eight judges - it was an "en banc" hearing, so all of the circuit judges attended instead of only three - were taking the matter seriously.

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President Obama’s Dangerous Precedent

National Catholic Register editorial

April 21, 2013

Tens of thousands of citizens, including Catholic bishops, administrators of universities, hospitals and social agencies, private business owners, constitutional scholars and ordinary laypeople, flooded the online comments box. Some statements offered legal analyses that explained why the mandate violates the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Pro-life business owners affirmed their commitment to the sanctity of human life. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a March 20 statement filed by Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses rejected the narrow religious exemption that offers no protection for Catholic "organizations that contribute most visibly to the common good through the provision of health, educational and social services."

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Americans Continue to Oppose Obamacare’s HHS Mandate

Heritage Foundation Foundry - Sarah Torre

April 11, 2013

On Monday, hundreds of thousands of public comments flooded the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as individuals and groups expressed concern with the Obama Administration's continued trampling on a fundamental freedom. Many public comments expressed continued opposition to the coercive HHS mandate that requires almost all employers to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices, contraception, and sterilization-regardless of moral or religious objection. After more than a year of public outrage, over 50 lawsuits against the anti-conscience mandate, and a federal judge's demand that HHS fix its coercive mandate, the Administration published a "notice of proposed rulemaking" (NPRM) on February 6.

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Johns Hopkins Relents, Recognizes Student Pro-Life Group

April 10, 2013

Voice for Life (VFL) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) has officially been granted recognized group status after members of the student government initially likened it to a white supremacist group. Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America, told LifeNews she is elated by the decision.
"We are so proud of our students in Voice for Life for courageously standing up to the pro-abortion forces in their student government and on their campus that sought to silence them for their beliefs," she said. "In this case, the private personal character attacks on pro-lifers as racists and misogynists that we know go on all the time were exposed for the world to see."

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Obamacare mandates put freedom and women's health at risk

Paul Rondeau in Washington Times

April 8, 2013

The latest faux accommodation is that a "free" insurance policy must automatically be issued for all employees of organizations exempt from providing these items and procedures. It magically is paid for by the insurance company so the religious employers and employees are not supposed to complain. This is sheer nonsense: No amount of bookkeeping sleight of hand changes the cause-effect relationship.

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Threats against Religious Freedom in Our Country

U.S.Commission on Civil Rights hearing

March 29, 2013

Archbishop Charles Chaput spoke of "...a pattern of government coercion that includes the current administration's HHS mandate, which violates the religious identity and mission of many religiously affiliated or inspired public ministries; interfering with the conscience rights of medical providers, private employers and individual citizens; and attacks on the policies, hiring practices and tax statuses of religious charities and ministries. Why is this hostility happening? I believe much of it links to Catholic and other religious teaching on the dignity of life and human sexuality."

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FLEMING: Pushing back against Obamacare’s overreach

Washington Times

March 12, 2013

Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo still remembers the gruesome images of the dismembered body of the child whose abortion she was forced to observe. Ms. Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at a hospital in New York City, was required by her employer to assist in the abortion of a 22-week preborn baby. The hospital knew her long-standing opposition to abortion, yet threatened her job and her nursing license if she did not take part.

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Religious leaders applaud new conscience protection bill


March 7, 2013

Catholic leaders and advocates of religious liberty threw their support behind newly proposed federal legislation that would offer additional conscience protection in the realm of health care. Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor for The Catholic Association, said, "A pluralistic and tolerant society should not force a healthcare worker to participate in abortion procedures, nor a Christian employer to provide abortion-inducing drugs for employees."

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Protecting the Many Victims of Obamacare

Sarah Torre, The Foundry - Heritage Foundation

March 7, 2013

"The health-care law puts my family in an impossible dilemma," explains Carrie Kolesar, part owner of Seneca Hardwood Lumber Company in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, which is suing over the mandate. "[W]e have to choose between violating our freedom of conscience and giving up freedoms protected under the Constitution, or facing severe government penalties that will harm our families and put us out of business. No American should be faced with a decision like that."

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Proposed Health Care Conscience Rights Act — ‘Last and Only Hope’?

National Catholic Register

March 5, 2013

Cathy Cenzon-DeCarlo, a New York state nurse who was forced to participate in an abortion at 22-weeks gestation or risk losing her job and nursing license, told members of Congress that the experience still haunted her dreams. Cenzon-DeCarlo was among several Catholic women who were invited to a March 5 briefing for House members on the proposed Health Care Conscience Rights Act of 2013.

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Black, Fortenberry & Fleming Introduce Health Care Conscience Rights Act

Rep. Diane Black press release

March 5, 2013

Today, Congressmen Diane Black (R-TN), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), and John Fleming, M.D. (R-LA) held a press conference to announce the introduction of theHealth Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA). This legislation would protect Americans’ First Amendment rights and would stop the Obama Administration’s assault on religious freedom.HCCRA offers reprieve from ongoing violations of our First Amendment, including full exemption from the Obama Administration’s Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and conscience protection for individuals and health care entities that refuse to provide, pay for, or refer patients to abortion providers because of their deeply-held, reasoned beliefs. Click here to read the bill text.

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HHS Wars: Nothing Has Changed

Connie Marshner in Independent Women's Forum

February 20, 2013

The so-called HHS "accommodation" earlier this month on the HHS mandate is just that: so-called. It was 80 pages of text to say: nothing has changed. Nothing for the better, that is. The bureaucratic finagling may well have given a kick in the solar plexus to private business.

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Hobby Lobby president expects long court battle over federal contraceptives mandate

Charlotte News-Observer

January 18, 2013

Hobby Lobby maintains that some birth control products, such as the morning-after pill, are equivalent to abortion. The company has sued the government on religious freedom grounds. Hobby Lobby still potentially faces millions in fines for not following the mandate. With 13,000 employees and a proposed fine of $100 per employee per day, that would equate to $1.3 million in daily fines.

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Judge rejects Pa. firm's health care law challenge

San Francisco Chronicle

January 13, 2013

A federal judge has rejected the argument of the Mennonite owners of a central Pennsylvania furniture manufacturing company that new health care requirements that they pay for employees' contraceptive services violate their free speech and religion rights.

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Federal Court Rules Against Missouri’s Attempt to Halt Obamacare’s Abortion Pill Mandate

Christian News Network

December 26, 2012

St. Louis, Missouri - A federal court has ruled against a newly-enacted Missouri law that sought to block Obamacare's abortion pill mandate by allowing religious-owned businesses to be exempt from the requirement. In September of this year, Missouri legislators enacted the law, overriding a veto from Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. It had initially passed in May, 28-6 in the Senate and 105-33 in the House.

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Anti-Conscience Mandate Halted Against Second Family-Owned Business

Heritage commentary by Dominique Ludvigson

November 3, 2012

A second federal district court has granted a preliminary injunction halting enforcement of Obamacare's conscience-crushing contraception mandate. Weingartz Supply and its owner objected to the mandate's requirement that they provide their employees abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraceptives in violation of the owner's religious beliefs or risk crippling fines.

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Family Research Council May Challenge HHS Contraceptive Mandate

Citizen Link article by Bethany Monk

October 25, 2012

The Texas-based legal firm Liberty Institute sent a letter Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking officials to clarify whether the Family Research Council (FRC) must offer contraceptives and possible abortion-inducing drugs under its employee health care plan.
FRC - a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C. non-profit organization dedicated to advancing faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview - is one of many similar groups nationwide that falls into a gray area under the HHS rule, issued earlier this year.

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Obama Mandate: The Gravest Threat to Religious Freedom in 226 Years

American Thinker commentary - K. Blackwell and B. Morrison

October 7, 2012

James Madison famously said that the people are right to take alarm at the "first advance on their liberties." The Obama mandate will force us to violate our consciences. President Obama famously said that he doesn't know when human life begins, but he's willing to force us to collaborate in the destruction of innocent human lives.

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HHS mandate allows minors free contraception, sterilization


September 25, 2012

Minor children on their parents' health care plans will have free coverage of sterilization and contraception, including abortion-causing drugs, under the controversial HHS mandate - and depending on the state, they can obtain access without parental consent. Matt Bowman, senior counsel for the religious liberty legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the mandate "tramples parental rights" because it requires them to "pay for and sponsor coverage of abortifacients, sterilization, contraception and education in favor of the same for their own children."

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Thousands join grassroots women's movement opposing HHS mandate


September 23, 2012

Thousands of women across the country are leading grassroots efforts to make their voices heard in opposition to the federal contraception and sterilization mandate. The Women Speak for Themselves movement is driven by “things that women are deciding to do on their own,” said Meg McDonnell, who has been assisting the group from early in its existence.

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Illinois cannot make pharmacists give 'morning after' pill: court


September 21, 2012

An Illinois appellate court Friday affirmed a lower court finding that the state cannot force pharmacies and pharmacists to sell emergency contraceptives - also known as "morning after pills" - if they have religious objections. "This decision is a great victory for religious freedom," said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel for the Becket Fund, quoted in a statement about the decision.

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The HHS Mandate’s Other Victims – The Needy

The Bell Towers commentary by C. Mattox

September 20, 2012

The Obama Administration's mandate that religious employers provide contraception, abortifacients and sterilization for their employees is a monumental attack on religious liberty: never before has our government chosen to force American citizens to violate their consciences so directly. Yet while Alliance Defending Freedom successfully makes the case that this law violates employers' religious freedom, the potentially devastating impacts of this mandate on others should not be ignored.

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Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction in HHS Mandate Fight

Heritage commentary by J. Marshall and D. Ludvigson

July 29, 2012

Accepting the Administration’s logic would limit the application of religious freedom to individuals alone, acting within their houses of worship on weekends. It would effectively push religion out of every sphere of public life and restrict the free exercise rights of adherents to live out their faiths in their day-to-day lives. The Administration does not appear to perceive religion as something that people of faith strive to live out daily in every aspect of their lives, however imperfectly.

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Effort to Secure Conscience Rights in HHS Mandate Fight

Catholic Examiner

July 29, 2012

Richard Doerflinger, the chief lobbyist on life issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the House Subcommittee appropriations bill as a "breakthrough" because the language from the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act is included right in the spending bill and not in an amendment. "The real challenge will be for the Senate to accept it." he said. "One way or the other, there will be a vote."

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Catholic business owners score win against ObamaCare mandate

FOX News

July 27, 2012

“Every American, including family business owners, should be free to live and do business according to their faith. For the time being, Hercules Industries will be able to do just that,” said Matt Bowman, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the Arizona-based organization representing the Newlands. “The bottom line is that Congress and the Constitution explicitly protect all religious freedom. They don’t exclude family businesses.”

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Abortion, Conscience, and Health Care Provider Rights

Public Discourse, by E. Christian Brugger

July 26, 2012

This framework—our moral knowledge—is not merely an affectively supported matrix of subjective beliefs, but the basic apprehension of a set of propositions asserting truths pertaining to what is good, choiceworthy, and consistent with human well-being. 

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HVAC and the HHS Mandate

NRO interview with Matt Bowman

July 26, 2012

The basic principle in this case is the same as in other cases: that Congress does not let federal agencies punish people of faith for abiding by their faith, without passing the most demanding test known to federal law. We believe that in this case the government does not even come close to justifying its refusal to exempt religious objectors. This is because Congress provided secular exemptions for millions of employees, and it could easily give out more free contraception itself if the political will existed.

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The HHS Mandate: Not an Academic Debate

National Review commentary by K.J. Lopez

July 20, 2012

For Wheaton, the violation of conscience lies in the inclusion of abortion-inducing drugs in the HHS mandate — further evidence that at the heart of the debate is not access to contraception but the erosion of religious liberty. “We were surprised that the federal government is using the term ‘contraception’ to refer to drugs that are widely recognized as having an abortive effect,” Ryken explains. “The secretary of Health and Human Services has been on record publicly as saying these are drugs that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg."

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An Evangelical-Catholic Stand on Liberty

Wall St. Journal commentary by P. Ryken and J. Garvey

July 19, 2012

On Wednesday, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the trustees of Wheaton College joined The Catholic University of America in filing a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services. They did so because the HHS mandate requiring the college to provide and subsidize insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs violates the conscience of the school and its members, and denies their First Amendment freedom of religion.

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One HHS Mandate Case Dismissed, Don’t Read Too Much Into It

National Review Online commentary by Kyle Duncan

July 17, 2012

Today’s decision by a federal district court in Nebraska to dismiss one of the many pending lawsuits against the HHS abortion-drug, contraception and sterilization mandate is unfortunate (and in one respect, seriously mistaken). But the decision turns on technicalities and doesn’t decide the merits of the dispute. Bear this context in mind if you should hear anyone trumpeting this decision as some sort of “victory” for the federal government on the religious-liberty questions at the heart of the HHS mandate litigation.

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What the Fortnight really meant

CNA commentary by Maureen Ferguson

July 16, 2012

Should people of faith have to surrender their First Amendment rights just because it is an election year?  Should battles over fundamental Constitutional rights wait until after elections are over? Remember the Church did not ask for this fight. 

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Religious freedom and conscience rights in America

Richard Doerflinger interview on Christian Doctors Digest

July 13, 2012

Christian Medical Association CEO Dr. David Stevens interviews Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the HHS mandate in the Affordable Care Act, conscience rights and religious liberty.

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Religious Freedom and the HHS Mandate: A Conversation with Representatives

Video of Georgetown U. symposium

July 13, 2012

On Thursday, June 28 at 10:00 AM, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) joined Congresswoman Diane Black (R-TN), Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), and Congressman Dan Lipinksi (D-IL) for a public forum at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall. The topic: the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate and its implications for individual liberty and religious freedom. Rep. Fortenberry also discussed his Freedom2Care-supported bill, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179).

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Omaha Stacy vs. HHS

National Review Online commentary by K. Lopez

July 11, 2012

Thomlison is 31 and suffers from Crohn’s disease, a chronic gastrointestinal condition that threatened her life when she was a teenager. This patient is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by seven state attorneys general in response to the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers, regardless of their religious convictions, to provide insurance coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs.

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ObamaCare decision does not stop fight against abortion pill mandate

Townhall commentary by Steve Aden

July 10, 2012

The fight against the abortion pill mandate is a fight for religious freedom, whereas the ObamaCare case revolved primarily around the constitutionality of the health care legislation as a whole. Freedom of conscience itself is at stake with the abortion pill mandate.

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Repeal Obamacare -- and then really reform health care

Washington Examiner commentary by Jonathan Imbody

July 5, 2012

Reforming health care is unquestionably challenging, but it's not brain surgery. It works best when following basic principles most kindergartners learn: Help others up when they've fallen, keep your hands off other people's stuff and save your lunch money for when it's needed.

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Eternal Vigilance for Religious Liberty

National Review Online commentary by Grace Marie Turner

July 4, 2012

It is outrageous that the bishops must go to federal court to protect the constitutionally protected first freedom, but our country’s history abounds with examples of the need for eternal vigilance.

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It's 2010 again

World Magazine

June 29, 2012

Christian Medical Association director David Stevens warned that forcing employers and individuals with faith-based convictions to subsidize abortion or life-ending contraceptives would lead to “huge faith fines on those of us who resist.”

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What next for health care reform?

Blog by Jonathan Imbody

June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court only tested the health care law's constitutionally, not its merits. That's for the people to decide, and a majority of Americans for the past two years have weighed the merits of the law and found it wanting. Congress and the President now should take heed to constitutional and practical principles, stop trying to take over the world and focus instead on sensible, measured and bipartisan health care reforms.

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Public Comments Overwhelmingly Oppose HHS Anti-Conscience Mandate

Heritage Foundation analysis

May 3, 2012

The federal website released the first round of public comments on the administration's proposed anti-conscience mandate on Wednesday. The comments were overwhelmingly opposed to the measure: out of 211 comments submitted, only six, less than 3%, offered support for the mandate.

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Is Conscience Partisan?

Public Discourse commentary by Richard Doerflinger

April 15, 2012

During his final illness Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI, stating, "I believe in a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field, and I'll continue to advocate for it as my colleagues in the Senate and I work to develop an overall national health policy that guarantees health care for everyone."

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