Alfie Evans and the War on Family

Last week, the world was captivated and horrified by the story of little Alfie Evans.  The British toddler, born with a rare degenerative condition, died early Saturday morning at just 23 months old after spending the final 16 months of his life in a coma.

Alfie’s case was noteworthy, but not only because he was a life gone too soon. The world was captivated by the legal battle that developed between his parents and the British health care system.

Ultimately, the doctors wanted to stop life support and let him die after determining there was nothing left to do.  His parents wanted to keep trying.

For parents who were watching the story from a distance, the most horrifying aspect of was the great lengths the British government went to ensure Alfie’s parents couldn’t help him live.  And, Alfie’s parents moved mountains in their effort to help him.

They secured Italian citizenship for Alfie and had an air ambulance ready to take him to a Vatican-owned hospital in Italy that had expressed an interest in taking care of him.  Rather than turn the dying boy over to his parents with a hug and an expression of regret that there wasn’t more that could be done,  the hospital effectively kidnapped Alfie.

They placed thirty police officers in front of a hospital to ensure that if they weren’t going to try to help Alfie, no one would.

There was no shortage of irony.

Alfie’s mother could have killed him through abortion for being sick, but she was not allowed to try to save his life despite it. While Alfie’s family would be free to transport a loved one to another country to die through assisted suicide, they were forbidden to carry Alfie to another country in an attempt to live.

But there’s a more significant point in all of this that shouldn’t be missed.  Government has forgotten its place in the world; not just in England.

For the same reasons we celebrate the separation of powers within our government, we must reestablish the separation of institutions within our cultures.  The government cannot fill the role of a parent and should know better than to try, especially when willing, caring, and capable parents are involved.

The problem with the British government, in this case, is not that they disagreed with Alfie’s parents. The problem is their willingness to replace Alfie’s actual parents on matters of life and death.  Parenting from the bench should be more offensive than legislating from the bench.

Unfortunately, there are times when courts must intervene on behalf of children who have been abused or neglected, but only in cases when parents have been found to be unfit.  In this case, there wasn’t even an accusation of unfitness. It was just a case of disagreement and the government pulling rank because, for some perverse reason, they feel like they can.

While Government serves an important purpose in community life, it is only one institution and not the most crucial.

The family does not serve the interest of the government;  government exists to serve the interests of families.

In the most recently completed legislative session in Washington State, a bill was passed that will allow courts to grant visitation with another relative of a child over the objection of the parents.  Proponents hope this new law will expand to allow court-mandated visitation with any third-party over the objection of the parents.

In California, Orange County Board of Education has recently clarified that parents cannot opt their children out of sex education curriculum lessons that discuss gender, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation in ways the parents disagree with.

A national effort is underway to make it illegal for parents to get therapy for a gender dysphoric child that would help that child identify their actual gender.  Even if the parents, therapists, and child all agree about the goals, politicians have taken the position that it shouldn’t be allowed.

In the state of Ohio, parents lost custody of their teenage daughter because they did not support her desire to conceal her gender and live as a boy.

Alfie’s parents have plenty of company.

In each case, the government is overruling the decisions of parents simply because they think they know better.

Governments are also attempting to control the church.

The federal government on this side of the pond has only recently stopped trying to force Catholic organizations to pay for birth control.  A Christian homeless ministry in Seattle was recently sued for declining to hire someone that wouldn’t abide by their faith-based code of conduct.   In California, religious, pro-life organizations have been told that they must advertise for abortion.

The First Amendment was written to ensure that government would have no say in how religious organizations operate but what we are looking at now borders on micromanagement, all from the “separation of church and state” crowd.

These bureaucracies are dangerous to our more fundamental institutions, in part, because of their good intentions.

As C.S. Lewis once wrote “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

I hope Alfie Evans and his parents are remembered for a very long time.  They all fought nobly.  But it really wasn’t just about a sick little boy and his family.  It was a story about a government’s assault on the institution of the family.

 

The reality of Planned Parenthood’s tweets about the imaginary lives of children

PHILADELPHIA — Last week Planned Parenthood Keystone in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania posted a tweet proclaiming, “We need a Disney princess who has had an abortion. We need a Disney princess who is pro-choice.”

Glancing at Disney’s online princess store, we see product marketing focused on toddlers to early school-aged children. As Planned Parenthood aims to present their organization as trusted women’s healthcare providers, perhaps they felt the need to advise corporate America on setting good examples for the next generation of women.

However, experts on children’s health do not necessarily think this kind of message would be helpful. In fact, some believe it may be harmful.

“Introducing the concept of abortion to a toddler would not only be confusing but potentially traumatic causing possible fears of abandonment,” said Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent. 

Walfish went on to further explain, “The likelihood is that a toddler would not understand the concept of abortion. However, if it were explained in any way that described the killing of a child, this could trigger a tremendous amount of conflict and anxiety in the youngster related to ambivalence about whether he or she is wanted.”

Gayani DeSilva, M.D., a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist and author of A Psychiatrist’s Guide: Helping Parents Reach Their Depressed Tween, concurred with Walfish’s assessment saying, “Introducing those concepts too early may cause confusion and conflict. The idea that a parent would stop a baby from being born may cause the child to wonder why he was allowed to be born. He or she may wonder how abortions occur and the details of the process may be overwhelming for the child.”

When Planned Parenthood Keystone was asked who was responsible for creating their Twitter content and also if tax dollars were directly involved in their digital marketing efforts, they did not respond. However, the national organization declares, on their tax return for the calendar year beginning July 1, 2015, and ending June 30, 2016, that they spent $129,202,742 on what they describe as, “Increase access – Programs.”  According to Planned Parenthood, these programs are designed to, “improve access to reproductive health services and information by leveraging technology, enhancing existing capacity, and securing the role of  women’s health centers in the evolving healthcare system.” Nearly half of these funds or $61,737,493 came from taxpayer-funded grants.

So yes, its a poorly kept secret that directly and indirectly taxpayer dollars subsidize the creation of Twitter content for Planned Parenthood–much of which has nothing to do with improving “access to reproductive health services and information,”–as was the case with the now deleted Disney tweet.

On a day-to-day basis, they tweet plenty of other information that doesn’t fit this description either. Some additional content samples from the Planned Parenthood Keystone twitter feed are featured below:

What does John Bolton have to do with women’s reproductive health?

How about attacks on faith-based, crisis pregnancy centers? Does the disparagement of other groups addressing reproductive health issues accomplish their stated goals?

According to Yale University, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births in the United States has risen from almost 10% in 1960 to nearly 40% of all births in 2014. An interesting phenomenon to accompany the expansion of sex education as well as the reach and funding of organizations like Planned Parenthood who claim to care about family planning.

Why Christians and Secular Leftists Disagree So Much

Christians and secular leftists disagree about a lot of things. Religious faith, or the lack thereof, is a strong predictor of how someone will feel about issues like sexuality, gender, marriage, assisted suicide, and abortion.

Have you ever thought about why we disagree about so much?

In order to understand our disagreements, I think it’s helpful to first acknowledge where we agree. We all want people to be happy.  Really.  There might be individuals we don’t like and grudges we carry personally, but in general, we want other people to be happy and we want to be happy ourselves.

That’s a great start.

Our differences, however, lie in the fact that we have very different ideas about what will make people happy and we disagree about what makes people happy because we have different views about the nature of our existence.

Secularists believe the human existence is random and purposeless.  We were not created by anyone so we are not accountable to anyone; we appeared out of nothing and will return to nothing.  Because there is no creator, there is no moral law and as a result, the best we can hope for out of life is to simply be happy, which we achieve by doing the things we believe will make us happy.

Changing your gender will make you happy? Great.  Want an abortion to fulfill your life plan and find happiness? Outstanding.  Want to marry someone or many people of the same gender, multiple genders, or no gender at all? Who am I to judge?

Christians share the hope that individuals will find happiness, but believe happiness comes in a very different way.

Christians believe the key to joy, which is better than happiness, is not found by acting on our desires but by fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.   Christians also believe that each person has been infected by sin which causes us to desire things that will not only fail to bring happiness but actually lead to misery.  For Christians, happiness is not the goal but a byproduct of fulfilling our created purpose which often requires us to surrender our desires for our own good.

If there is no moral law, family structure and sexual behavior is merely a matter of preference.  If we have not been created with a specific purpose, changing your gender is no more significant than changing your shirt.  Do what makes you happy.

But if there is a creator and if our creator has created us so that our mind, soul, and body are all distinct yet connected and flourish only to the extent they fulfill the purpose for which they were created, then good intentions are not enough to find happiness.

A car may wish to run on water in order to save the planet but will find mobility frustrating because that was not how it was made.

But who is right about the nature of our existence?

If the secularist is right, you would expect those who indulge their desires and impulses most to be the most fulfilled.

If the Christians are correct, the key to happiness is found, in part, in our ability to deny ourselves and live for someone greater. As Jesus said, “whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.”

If we want, we can continue arguing about who is smarter or who has better intentions. But it may be more helpful to recognize the things we actually agree on and then have a long conversation about what actually makes people happy.   After all, there’s where many of our political quarrels are coming from anyway.

 

California Moves to Ban “Conversion Therapy” for Adults

In the recently completed legislative session, the Washington State legislature passed legislation making it professional misconduct for licensed therapists to provide “conversion therapy” to a minor.  As a result, a therapist may help a boy become a girl but may not help a boy identify as a man if he experiences gender dysphoria.  Similarly, they can help a child embrace same-sex attraction, but they are forbidden from telling a child it is possible to reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction, regardless of the wishes of the client and parents.

Supporters of this legislation argue that it is necessary because gender dysphoria and same-sex attraction are healthy and immutable. Therefore, any attempt to reduce or eliminate their influence in someone’s life is always harmful.

If it is always harmful to help minors with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, is it also harmful for everyone else as well?

A proposal being debated in California give an indication of what might be next.

AB 2943 makes it a violation of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act to advertise, offer, or actually provide services dealing with sexual orientation to anyone, regardless of their age.

If a man is married with children but experiences same-sex attraction, it would be illegal for a licensed therapist to help him reduce or eliminate those desires in an effort to help keep his marriage together.

The prohibition on advertising could have far-reaching implications as well.

Arguably it will be illegal to sell books in California that address issues of sexuality that include same-sex attraction or discussions about gender dysphoria.  It could also be illegal to share the thousands of stories of people who have reduced or eliminated same-sex attraction.  It does not appear that there are any religious exemptions in the law so it could foreseeably be illegal for a church to sell a book communicating biblical beliefs about sexuality and providing insights on how to live accordingly.

Anytime you have a conversation about this subject with someone who supports banning therapy, they will likely provide a list of progressive advocacy groups that once functioned as professional associations who agree with them and will cite the fact that they agree with them as evidence that they are right.

The argument is essentially this, “People who went to college agree with me, therefore I’m correct.”

If you point out the fact that there are lots of people, who went to college that disagree with them, they will inevitably respond by saying, “Well, the people with degrees who agree with me say they’re wrong, so I’m right.”

Do sexual desires and interests change? For thousands of people the answer is yes.  You can read stories of some of the many people who have walked that journey at Voice of the Voiceless and other organizations like it which share the stories of former homosexuals. 

These are the people proponents of these therapy bans say don’t exist.  Not only that, but this bill would make their stories illegal to share.

We need not answer the far more complicated questions of if, when, and how sexual interests change to be able to answer the far more easier question of whether people should be able to choose their own path in life. 

But in California, helping someone do that could soon be illegal.  Even if they’re an adult.

Because tolerance, of course.

 

 

WA House Passes Abortion Insurance Mandate

A blizzard of extremist social policy from the Washington State legislature seems to have ended Wednesday evening as the Washington State House of Representatives passed SB 6219 mandating that every insurance policy in Washington State cover abortions and all contraceptive methods.

It also makes it illegal to share the costs of the abortion with the insured through any form of copay or deductible.

The bill, which is strongly opposed by private businesses, religious organizations, and people who generally oppose coercion by government passed 50-48 with all the Democrats voting for it and all the Republicans voting against it.

The effort to exempt conscience rights was even closer.

A vote on an amendment that would have exempted religious employers and religious organizations ended in a 49-49 tie when Democratic Representative Mike Chapman sided with the Republicans to support it.  However, an amendment that ties fails to achieve a majority and therefore fails.

While the bill had been defeated three times in previous years, the passage of this bill following the Democrats retaking the majority in the Washington State Senate is yet another reminder that elections have real consequences in the lives of real people; particularly in the church these days.

While proponents of the bill frequently spoke about the importance of providing access to abortion, this bill was never about the availability of abortion but whether people with moral or conscientious objections to abortions should be forced to use their own money to pay for someone else’s abortions.

The Washington State legislature now says yes.

There were some changes made to the bill that are unrelated to conscience rights so the legislation will return to the Senate who would have to agree to the changes in a reconciliation process before it goes to the Governor for his signature.

You are encouraged to continue contacting your legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here to share your thoughts on these bills and how they have voted.

In the meantime, families who do not want to pay for abortions through their insurance plans may want to consider one of several Christian cost-sharing ministries.

They are not insurance plans, but they function similarly by allowing Christians to share the costs of medical needs as a community.  My family has greatly benefited from being members of Samaritan Ministries for many years, but there are other good options as well like Medi-Share.   In addition to lacking the moral problems of being forced to pay for abortions, those options are often much cheaper as well.

While those alternatives could be helpful for individual families, they may not prove useful for employers who are required by law to purchase health insurance policies for their employees.   That is why, if Governor Inslee ultimately signs this bill, litigation is sure to result and will likely take years to resolve.

Stay tuned.

#Resist

Therapy Ban Passes State House

The Washington State House of Representatives voted Wednesday afternoon to pass legislation banning “conversion therapy” for minors by a 66-32 margin. Sixteen Republicans joined every Democrat to pass it.

Proponents of the bill had long argued that it would protect children from torture that therapists would have used in an effort to make kids not be gay.

No mention was made of the fact that torture and coercion of any kind by a therapist are already professional misconduct.

The debate focused on the impact it would have on talk therapy.  Opponents of the bill pointed out that if a client requests a particular kind of help, the legislature should not prohibit therapists from providing it. Proponents of the bill argued that it is always harmful to tell a child that gender identity and sexual orientation can change.

The fact that people do change all the time was not discussed, nor were any exceptions made in the event that the minor requests the therapy.

The effect of the bill is that if a minor experiences gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction, the only legal option a therapist would have is to help that minor change their gender or embrace their identity as a same-sex attracted person.   The impact is particularly concerning in the gender identity context because  80% to 95% of children who experience gender dysphoria will outgrow it on their own.

As a result, the only legal option for a therapist in Washington will be to encourage a child in a direction they likely would not go in the absence of therapy.  If a fifteen-year-old boy desires to live life as a man despite experiencing gender dysphoria, it would be illegal to help a boy grow to be a man. It is unknown whether it is illegal to tell a minor with gender dysphoria that it usually goes away on its own.

While attempts were made to exempt licensed therapists who were ministers or were employed by churches, they were unsuccessful.  As a result, an ordained minister could be punished professionally for helping a minor live the life she wants for herself.

This is what tolerance and equality look like in Washington State in 2018.

Here is the roll call for how members voted.

Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

 

Tuesday Was A Tough Day in Olympia

Tuesday was a difficult day in the legislature.

Early in the evening, the Washington State Senate passed HB 1523, a bill that requires every insurance plan to pay for every form of birth control.

In broad terms, the bill requires that Washington State require every insurance plan to cover everything that was required under federal law as of December 31, 2016.

If it seems like a strange way to write law, that’s because it is.

Typically, if lawmakers want to do X, they say “we want to do X”.  They don’t typically say, “You must do everything they would have made you do back then.”  At the very least, it lacks clarity.

This bill enshrines all the federal laws, agency rules, and court interpretation from a particular date in the past as the new law in Washington State going forward.

The bill is essentially the Washington State Legislatures way of saying “We like everything Obama did around health care and we hate everything that Trump will do” without actually knowing what those things are.

The most controversial portion of the bill, however, is the effort to require every insurance policy to cover drugs that cause abortions and therefore violate the conscience of millions of Americans.

The Obama administration also passed regulations to force private employers to do things that violated their religious beliefs but Hobby Lobby sued and ultimately prevailed when the Supreme Court said that those mandates violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  As a result, businesses in the United States have had the freedom choose whether to pay for drugs that cause abortion or not.

With this bill, however, the Washington State legislature is saying that Washington businesses will not have the same freedom businesses in the rest of the country enjoy when it comes to exercising one’s conscience.

Unfortunately, the relief that was available for Hobby Lobby will not be available for Washington businesses.

The federal law that stopped the federal government from encroaching on the conscience rights of businesses owners does not restrict state action and therefore would not be applicable to this new law.

The bill was passed on largely party lines with Republicans Joe Fain and Maureen Walsh joining all the Democrats to pass it.

Still, litigation is likely to follow on constitutional grounds.

In a second debate that did not end until nearly one o’clock in the morning, the Washington State House passed SB 6037 which, among other things, made surrogacy contracts in Washington State legal.

Until now, surrogacy contracts were prohibited as a matter of public policy because the state had decided that women should not be able to rent their wombs for children for the same reason they are not allowed to rent their bodies for sex or sell their organs.

You can donate a kidney, but you cannot sell one.

There are some things the law allows us to do voluntarily that it does not permit to be done commercially because introducing a profit motive creates too many obvious and egregious opportunities for exploitation.

But early this morning we decided that doesn’t matter anymore.

Fourteen separate amendments were offered during the protracted debate including amendments that would have required:

  1. Intended parents to be married so that children who are sold through this process would have two parents;
  2. Surrogates to be citizens of the United States and a resident of Washington State so that poor, vulnerable women will not be induced into exploitative arrangements by the promise of quick money;
  3. Adoption like screening for intended parents to ensure that their homes are a suitable environment for children; and
  4. Limits on the number of children that could be purchased through commercial surrogacy.

Just last week a single, Japanese man was awarded custody of thirteen children he has purchased through surrogacy.  With this bill, he will be allowed to come to Washington State and pay for 100 more if he wants to.

Every amendment was defeated along party lines.

The supporters of this bill are excited because it makes it easier for adults to get custody of someone else’s child.

Same-sex couples, in particular, view their challenges with obtaining biological children as a matter of equality.  Since they cannot have children together, they are required to use someone DNA in order to have children.  Because the state has always recognized the right of a child to know it’s biological parents, severing parental rights and attaching them to another adult has always been a rigorous process.

We have always gone to great lengths to ensure that we severed parental rights only as a matter of last resort and created new parental rights with someone else only after those non-parents were determined to be able to provide a healthy environment for children to be raised in.

This bill makes it much easier to sever parental relationships and create new ones because it is more convenient for adults. In the past, the parent child relationship didn’t exist for the convenience of the adults.

Now it does.

The bill was passed on party lines with every Democrat voting in support of it and every Republican voting against it.

Both of these bills will now go to Governor Inslee for his signature.  He is expected to give it in both cases.

Momentum Building in Legislature for Helpful Amendments

This legislative session has seen a barrage of really harmful legislation be introduced and gain traction in the legislature.

Two bills, (HB 1523, and SB 6219) would force businesses, individuals, and possibly religious organizations to pay for contraception and/or abortion coverage despite religious and moral objections.

Another bill (SB 6037) would legalize surrogacy contracts in Washington State.  Mitsutoku Shigeta, a single man from Japan, was just last week awarded custody of 13 children he purchased through surrogacy in Thailand.  While this case has prompted Thailand to make it illegal for foreigners to come into their country and pay for children through surrogacy, the bill being debated would make it possible for him, or anyone, to do the same thing here in Washington State.

Another bill (SB 5722) would make it illegal for therapists to have conversations with minors about same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria in the name of stopping child abuse.  The only thing a therapist would be allowed to do is to help a minor change their gender or embrace same-sex attraction.

Each of these bills has momentum in the Washington State legislature, but with each bill there is a growing opportunity—if not to stop the bills entirely—to amend them to take out many of the worst parts.

Personal visits by businesses owners, therapists, and individuals who would be affected by the bills has helped lawmakers understand the harmful impacts of the bills.  However political realities incline many legislators to support them anyway.

That’s why they need to hear from their constituents to convince them that a good vote is also good politics.

Fortunately, that has been happening as well.  Significant constituent communications through phone calls and emails are making an impact, but they must continue.

While these bills are being exposed as bully tactics in one-on-one conversations, the special interests behind them have not stopped pushing.  That’s why it is so important that you continue to communicate with your elected officials and rally others to do the same. In many ways, those who are intent on taking away freedom and choice from decent people depend on the passivity of those same people.

As you communicate with legislators about these issues, encourage them to support amendments that would do the following:

Abortion and Contraception Mandates (HB 1523, SB 6219)

  • Amendment to exempt religious business owners from the abortion and/or contraception mandate.
  • Amendment to exempt religious organizations abortion and/or contraception mandate.

Contract Surrogacy (6037)

  • Amendment to limit surrogacy contracts to residents of Washington State and citizens of the United States.
  • Amendment to limit the number of children that can be purchased through surrogacy contracts
  • Amendment to require intended parents in surrogacy contracts to go through adoption like screening process before the contract can be enforced.

Therapy Ban (5722)

  • Amendment to exempt therapists employed by religious organizations
  • Amendment to ban aversive therapies like shock therapy and ice baths but not talk therapy.

These bills are likely to be voted on in the next day or two.  If you want your voice to be heard, the time to communicate is now.

To reach your legislators about this or any bill, Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   Then forward this information to a friend.

Finally, if you appreciate this information and the opportunity it provides you to be a more informed, effective citizen, click here to make sure it continues. We can’t do it without you.