A debate over conscience rights and religious freedom has been raging for a while now.
But we may be on the verge of a breakthrough.
Just last week, bakers in Oregon who had been fined $135,000 for declining to decorate a cake for a same-sex wedding were in court appealing their fine.
Only a few weeks ago, the Washington State Supreme Court concluded that the state of Washington could force businesses out of the wedding industry unless they were willing to participate in same-sex weddings.
In both of these cases—and many others like them—small business owners asked, “You’re free to be you, why can’t I be free to be me?” To which an angry mob responded, “Because you’re a bad person!”
And when the small business owner tries to explain how it’s a matter of conviction and not a desire to harm, the mob just yells louder.
Well, an unlikely mediator may have emerged in this debate.
Yes, that Planned Parenthood. The nation’s largest abortion provider and progressive darling. It turns out they’re feeling picked on.
You probably remember that funding for Planned Parenthood was a theme of the Presidential campaign and right now legislation is being debated in Washington DC that would cut off more than $500 million in federal tax funds to the abortion giant.
Earlier this week, President Trump made them a proposal: if you stop performing abortions we’ll keep sending you federal tax dollars.
They weren’t thrilled by the offer.
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the New York Times, “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept.” [Emphasis Added]
An interesting choice of words, isn’t it?
“Offering money to abandon…our values is not a deal we will ever accept?”
It seems like a some small business owners have made similar arguments, and the left has skewered them for it.
Apparently, what’s good for the abortionist is not good for the florist.
Undoubtedly, they will defend their inconsistent reactions by pointing out that it’s legal to kill babies but it’s not legal to opt out of a same-sex wedding.
And most won’t even pause long enough to acknowledge how messed up that is.
But let’s set that aside for now.
The fact that Planned Parenthood is playing the role of the victim provides an unusual rhetorical opportunity in the debate over conscience rights.
Abortion has been identified not merely as a service, but as a value of Planned Parenthood. And progressives respect them.
Other people have other values. Progressives sue them.
And they feel good about it.
“Just bake the cake and it wouldn’t be an issue,” they assure us.
To which you should respond, “So Planned Parenthood should just stop killing babies to keep their federal funding, right?”
Maybe then, they’ll develop some sympathy for those who object to government using its power to force people to abandon their values.
One can hope.