“Political Issues” Don’t Exist and Why That Matters for the Church

If you haven’t said it yourself, you’ve definitely heard someone say it.

We don’t get involved in “political issues”. Churches say this all the time.

For Americans, it’s a polite way of breaking up with a conversation we don’t want to have. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

But there’s one little problem with this argument, there’s no such thing as a “political issue.”

There are economic issues, environmental issues, criminal justice issues, educational issues, and transportation issues, but there are no political issues.

That’s because politics is not a category of issues but a process used to resolve discussions about every kind of issue.

Is this semantics or does it really matter?

Here’s why this matters, especially in the church.

By creating an artificial line between things that are “political” and not political we create an excuse to avoid things we don’t want to deal with.  But is it a good excuse?  For Christians, the answer is “no” because for us the line that actually matters is biblical or not biblical.

God probably doesn’t care which side of the road we drive on, but He does care about how we understand marriage, human sexuality and gender.

Fortunately, no one who says “I don’t get involved in political issues” actually means it.

Many of the same churches that refuse to talk about marriage or gender are the first to talk about racial injustice or human trafficking—as they should.

But the church’s selective willingness to have an opinion or engage a conversation indicates that when we say “I don’t get involved in politics” what we probably mean “I don’t say things that people aren’t going to like.”

That sounds pretty bad.  That is pretty bad.

The result is as ironic as it is troubling.  In an effort to not be political, churches have committed themselves to the most annoying political habit there is; only doing things that we believe will be popular.

Yes, there is a balance in all of this.

We shouldn’t pick fights or be obnoxious, but we should stop pretending there’s honor in avoiding difficult conversations.

The church exists to help people deal with difficult questions, so let’s do that.  If we think we have the answer, let’s not be afraid to give some answers.

At the very least, stop saying “I don’t get involved in political issues”.  That’s not true and there’s no such thing.

This Week in Olympia

While American’s celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, the Washington State legislature will be reaching the halfway point in their legislative session.  February 14th is the date on which bills must pass the House in which they were introduced.  Bills that fail to do so are likely dead.

Starting February 15th, the House and Senate will both begin committee hearings on legislation passed by the opposite chamber.   The 2018 regular session ends March 8th.

There are two hearings scheduled for the 15th you should be aware of.  You are encouraged to attend and make your voice heard.

The Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 1523, which will require every insurance plan to cover all forms of contraception that were required to be covered under Federal law as of December 31, 2016.  The bill is very similar to Senate Bill 6219 but does not include the requirement that every insurance policy that covers maternity care also cover abortions.

There is disagreement over the degree of infringement on conscience rights represented by these bills.  Proponents claim that the Abortion Insurance Mandate would not result in a loss of conscience rights because RCW 48.43.065 protects the rights of individuals and businesses owners not do things that violate their conscience.   However, an Attorney General opinion has already stated that declining to offer every form of contraceptive constitutes an “unfair practice” and therefore would provide grounds for employees to sue their employers.

In an effort to provide clarity, Senator Steve O’Ban offered the following amendment to protect conscience rights:

The legislature recognizes that every person possesses a fundamental right to exercise their religious beliefs and conscience. No religious or sectarian employer may be required by law or contract in any circumstances to particiapte in the provision of, or payment for, a sevice or product described in subsection (1D) of this section if they objecto to so doing for reason fo conscience or religion.

The fact that this amendment was not adopted creates reasonable doubt regarding the sincerity of those who claim the bill is not intended to infringe on conscience rights.

Also on the February 15th, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 5598 which allows courts to grant child visitation to non-parent relatives over the objection of the parents. This bill is much narrower than other versions of the bill that would have allowed the court to grant visitation with anyone, but it changes the longstanding principle that fit parents are allowed to determine who their kids spend time with.

Two other bills are scheduled for a vote in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee on Friday. Senate Bill 5722 would make it illegal for minors with gender dysphoria or unwanted same-sex attraction to receive help from licensed therapists. Senate Bill 6219 would mandate that every insurance policy that covers maternity care also cover abortion and also require insurance policies to cover every FDA approved form of contraceptive, including those that cover abortions.  It would be illegal to require the insured to pay a co-pay or deductible for that coverage.

Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   You are encouraged to do so at your earliest convenience.  Specifically, encourage your legislators to support conscience rights amendments on SB 6219 as well as HB 1523.

There is no doubt that the new leftist majorities in the legislature have prioritized some of the most radical social policies in the country.  If you want your voice to be heard, the time to speak is now.  Then pass this information onto someone else who also wants to know.

Silence is consent.

 

 

 

Elections Have Consequences: Abortion Mandate, Surrogacy Contracts, and Therapy Ban All Advance in the Legislature

The Washington State legislature continues to prioritize a number of radical social policies in the 2018 legislative session.

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 6037 legalizing contract surrogacy by a 27-21 vote margin. Several amendments were proposed but not adopted.  One amendment would have limited surrogacy contracts in Washington State to residents of Washington State.  This was an attempt to avoid challenges like those faced in Southeast Asia where the wealthy would fly in from all over the globe to take advantage of the surrogacy industry that developed there.

A second amendment would have prohibited surrogacy contracts with those who are mentally ill or have developmental disabilities.   It also failed.  This bill will not move to the House.

Over in the House of Representatives, two bills that were previously fast-tracked through the Senate had a hearing in the House Health and Wellness Committee.

Senate Bill 5722 would make it illegal for therapists to help a minor with unwanted same-sex attraction or identify with their biological sex. People who have been helped by the therapy at issue told the committee that conversations about sexuality and gender can be what some people need to find wholeness and overcome depression. Proponents of the bill testified that everyone who is anyone agrees with them that this therapy is always bad so they should pass it.

Senate Bill 6219 would force require every insurance policy in Washington State to cover abortion and thereby require everyone who purchases an insurance product to pay for abortions. Proponents of the bill claimed that it simply places the choice whether to have an abortion in the hands of the woman.  Opponents of the bill pointed out that it forces people who do not want to pay for other people’s abortions to do so.  Kim Wendt, a wife, mother, and veteran from Tacoma gave particularly compelling testimony that you can watch here.

No committee vote has been scheduled yet, but it is expected to happen within days and then move to the full House of Representatives for consideration.  Washington State residents can call their legislators through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.   You are encouraged to do so at your earliest convenience.

The timing of all this activity indicates these bills are a high priority for the current legislative leadership.

The contract surrogacy bill was one of the first bills the Senate took up after the committee cut-off had passed and the House hearing on the Senate Bills is a full two weeks before they would typically consider Senate bills.

More than that, however, these bills remind us that elections have consequences.

None of them are being introduced for the first time, but a recent change in the Senate majority has provided a window of opportunity to pass them that had not been available for five years.

If you are concerned about legislation like this, and you should be, think seriously about whether you are willing to do the difficult work of running for public office to stand for what is good, true, and beautiful.

While people engage in legislative debates in January, the reality is that for all intents and purposes, public policy is made in during elections in November.  We hope you are part of the effort to persuade those who are currently in office, but many of you have already learned the old adage that its easier to change faces than minds.  have already discovered that it’s easier to change who represents you than to change the mind of someone who is committed to different values.

If you are thinking of running for office yourself, would like to know what it means to run for office, or would like to be better prepared to help someone else run for office, sign up to attend FPIW’s 2018 campaign school in Bellevue on Saturday, March 3rd.

The engaging, fast-paced presentation will surprise you with not only how much you learn about running a campaign but also with how much fun you had doing it.

Sign up today and bring a friend.

Remember, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

To track all the bills that FPIW is following this legislative session, click here.

House Fast-Tracks Bills that Mandate Abortion Insurance and Ban Therapy. This Could Be Why

Two bills have been scheduled for a hearing at 8 a.m. in the House HealthCare and Wellness Committee this Wednesday, February 7th.

Senate Bill 6219 does two different things:

  1. It requires every insurance policy to cover every form of FDA approved contraception, including those that many object to because they cause abortions.
  2. It requires every insurance policy that covers the birth of a baby to also pay someone to kill it.

Many employers, including religious organizations like the Catholic church, object to being forced to do things that violate their beliefs.

Senate Bill 5722  would restrict therapy dealing with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria.  Currently, therapists are allowed to help clients achieve whatever therapeutic objective they desire.  If this bill were to become law, they would only be allowed to help clients embrace their same-sex attraction or identify with the opposite gender.  Clients who wish not reduce or eliminate same-sex attraction, or identify with their biological sex would be forced to find help from unlicensed therapists.

The date of this hearing is unusual because February 7th is the day after the deadline the House has for hearing legislation that originated in the House.  Typically, they would focus on floor action until February 14th, which is the deadline for passing legislation out of the House and to the Senate.

The fact that the House committee has already scheduled a hearing on Senate bills indicates that they are a priority.

But why?

Despite their obvious differences, these bills have something in common; they both address problems that don’t exist.

Access to abortion is not a problem in Washington State. Washington already has programs that pay for abortions for low-income people and every insurance policy in the state already covers it as well. Those who have looked for policies that don’t cover abortion have had to work very hard or move to faith-based, cost-sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries to avoid subsidizing abortion.

In the same way, there is no evidence that the kind of abusive therapy SB 5722 claims to address is happening. In four years of legislative debate, not a single therapist has been identified as having abused clients in an effort to change their gender identity or sexual orientation.

So why prioritize legislation that addresses nonexistent problems?

The answer is probably raw political.

A common tactic of political majorities is to force the minority party to take “bad votes” that can be used against them in their next election.  Because Democrats are in the majority in the Washington legislature, they control which bills come up for a vote. As such, a primary objective will be to force Republicans to take votes they can use against them in upcoming campaigns.

These bills lend themselves to politically useful campaign messages. Democrats are eager to accuse Republicans who might vote against them of supporting “torture therapy” and “denying women access to health care.”

They likely know that those accusations are almost entirely false, but it doesn’t really matter because they know their target audience is, in general, completely ignorant of the facts so the talking point carries the day.

We know that campaign season is full of political, drive-by shootings, but we are less familiar with the fact that the legislative session is the time to build your munitions stache.

Because legislators understand this game well, you may see, in this case, Republicans vote for bills you would expect them to oppose in an attempt to immunize themselves from the dishonest political ads once they are convinced their vote won’t make a difference anyway.  The risk is that they alienate their base that expects them to oppose bad legislation simply because its bad.

While it’s possible that these bills are in some way motivated by a desire to stick a finger in the eye of people, businesses owners, or therapists who have sincere differences of opinion, the politics of policy should never be ignored.

If you want to stop your elected officials from passing legislation that harms people without helping anyone, we have to do things that haven’t been done before.  They will need to hear from people who aren’t used to “getting involved in politics.”

You can start doing your part to make a difference by planning to attend the hearing this Wednesday and scheduling appointment to meet with your Representatives when you do. You can find who represents you by providing your address here. 

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

If you’ve already done that, makes sure your friends and family are aware of these issues and encourage them to do something small to make a big difference.

Remember, it’s insanity to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

 

Commercial Surrogacy Bill Passes Senate Committee

Many people have never heard of Senate Bill 6037 nor do they know what commercial surrogacy is, but this issue has become one of the most hotly debated bills so in Olympia this year.

While the bill is an overhaul of the States Uniform Parentage Act generally,  as we wrote about previously, the most contentious part is the provision that would remove the state’s current prohibition on commercial surrogacy contracts.  As a result, women would be allowed to rent their bodies for the purpose of giving birth.

Should the bill pass, custody disputes that arise out of surrogacy contracts would not be resolved based on the best interest of the child as is currently required but according to the terms of the contract.

Today, the bill passed out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee along party lines.

Several amendments were offered that would eliminate or limit the commercial surrogacy portion of the bill, but those amendments were all voted down.

Based on the voice vote, it appears the votes were along party lines with Democrats supporting its passage and Republicans opposed.

The bill will now move to the full Senate where they will have until February 14th to pass the bill to the House.

For more information about this bill, you can see six reasons why you should oppose the bill here as well as suggestions for what say to legislators here.

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

How Planned Parenthood Turns Birth Control into Cash (and why Politicians Help).

The Washington State legislature likes birth control – a lot.

Currently, there are three separate bills in one way or another making it easier to get birth control and ensuring that no one taking the birth control will actually have to pay for it.  (SB 6102, SB 6105, SB 6219). All of them work to make sure that women won’t ever have to pay for their birth control or abortion.

One of the bills has already passed the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee, SB 6219, and the other two are poised to do the same.

The fixation with birth control isn’t new either.

Last year the legislature passed a bill requiring insurance companies to reimburse for one year’s worth of contraception at a time rather than the one or three-month prescriptions some would fill.  I can see why it might be more convenient to get a year’s prescription rather than having to go back every month.  I have two daughters whose lives depend on daily access to a hormone but they are never allowed to have more than a 30-day supply of the medication.

Even if you accept the idea that birth control is just as necessary as food and water, the fixation with making it easier and always free is curious given the fact that 98% of sexually active women in America have used birth control at some point.[1]  That doesn’t suggest a crisis of access.

The question is why?

The picture becomes clearer, however, when you realize who benefits from this fixation.

Planned Parenthood’s Business Model

While Planned Parenthood is known as America’s largest abortion mill, they make more money from contraception than from abortion.  Their business model essentially works like this.

First, write sex-education curricula in a way that encourages sexual activity by minimizing the emotional and physical risks so that everyone, including children, are more likely to be sexually active long before they are financially or emotionally ready to deal with the consequences.

Second, in the sex education classes, make sure those who should not be having sex know that they can get free birth control and abortions from Planned Parenthood at taxpayer expense and, at least in Washington State, without parental knowledge or involvement.  The document below shows exactly what is being given to public school students in the sex-education classes.  Note the emphasis on the fact that parents don’t have to be involved and Planned Parenthood is always available.

Third, if they happen to not take their prescription quite as consistently as they should (whoops!) get them a taxpayer-funded abortion and another taxpayer-funded birth control prescription.

Carol Everett, who ran two abortion clinics in Texas, admitted that the abortion clinics weren’t always interested in preventing pregnancy. She wrote:

I established myself with the teens as an authority on sex.  I explained to them that their parents wouldn’t help them with their sexuality, but I would.  I separated them from their support system, number one, and they listened to me.  Second, our doctors prescribed low dose birth control pills with a high pregnancy rate knowing well that they needed to be taken very accurately at the same time every day or pregnancy would occur.  This insured the teens to be my best customers as teenagers typically are not responsible enough to follow such rigid medication guidelines on their own. I knew their sexual activity would increase from none or once a week to five or seven times a week once they were introduced to this contraception method.  Then I could reach my goal—three to five abortions for each teenager between the ages of 13 and 18.

Every step of the education, contraception, abortion cycle provides Planned Parenthood another government revenue stream, but contraceptives are particularly lucrative.

Profiting from Contraception in Washington

Much of Planned Parenthood’s money from contraception in Washington State comes through a program called Take Charge, which provides taxpayer-funded birth control to women who qualify based on their income.

Planned Parenthood promotes the program on their website, notifying women that they can  “Get a year’s worth of Birth Control in just one visit.”  In some years, Take Charge has accounted for 70% of all visits to clinics in Washington State.

In 2015, Planned Parenthood of Western Washington received more than $1 million from the state for oral contraceptives.  All “reproductive health care” reimbursements from the state are about $5 million per year.

The value of Take Charge to Planned Parenthood’s bottom line in Washington State likely explains why SB 6105, which is currently being debated, directs the state to create a new program “identical to the Washington state take charge program for individuals who would be eligible for that program but for immigration status.”

That bill would create a Take Charge for people who are in the country illegally.

Dispensing Fees

Despite their obvious affinity for contraceptives, Planned Parenthood doesn’t make their money on the prescriptions themselves but from the dispensing fees.

Approximately ten years ago, the Department of Health discovered an illegal scheme Planned Parenthood was engaged in throughout the country.  The scheme involved purchasing prescription contraceptives at a reduced rate through the Public Health Service Act Section 340(b).

The program was created to allow nonprofit organizations like the Veterans Administration to make prescription drugs more accessible.  However, because Planned Parenthood is also a non-profit organization, they qualified to purchase subsidized prescriptions under the program.

The problem was that after purchasing prescriptions at a reduced rate, they were not passing those savings on to the public they claimed to serve as the program intended.  Instead, they would mark up the cost of the contraceptives 400% or more and seek reimbursement from taxpayers through programs like Take Charge.  As a result, taxpayers were paying as much as $21 for a prescription that Planned Parenthood paid $3 for.

The difference between the acquisition cost and the sales price would be pocketed and categorized as “revenue in excess of expenses.”

While lucrative, the problem with that business model is that it’s illegal and resulted in several whistleblower lawsuits against Planned Parenthood, including one in Los Angeles by their former CFO.

When the scheme was discovered in Washington State, not only did the State refuse to recover funds that Planned Parenthood had fraudulently received, they actually worked with Planned Parenthood to create a way for their scheme to be done legally. In the end, the state agreed to allow them to continue marking up the price of the prescriptions but told them to classify the markup as a “dispensing fee” of $11.50 per unit.

But wait, there’s more.

In the last two years, the legislature has passed laws requiring both the state Department of Health as well as insurance companies to pay for one-year’s worth of birth control at a single time.  Previously, some companies had a practice of reimbursing for only a one or three months.

Here’s why that matters.  The same Department of Health that negotiated the dispensing fee for Planned Parenthood has authorized them to charge their dispensing fee on a per unit basis, rather than a per prescription basis. (See. pg. 66 of the Health Care Authority Family Planning Guide.)

As a result, if a woman makes a single visit but walks away with 12 months worth of contraceptives, Planned Parenthood is allowed to charge the dispensing fee twelve times for a total of $138.  Sources within the Department of Health have told us that if that woman had received the same prescription at a pharmacy, the pharmacy would receive a dispensing fee of $4.24.

If this seems like politicians taking care of political allies with taxpayer money you’re not wrong.

This is hardly the only favor Washington State is doing for Planned Parenthood.

In 2010, the State’s Medical Quality Assurance Commission created guidelines governing office-based surgical facilities, which include abortion facilities.  The purpose of the regulations was to ensure that every facility where surgeries are performed is similarly equipped to deal with contingencies that might arise.

Instead of requiring Planned Parenthood to be inspected and accredited by a third party like every other hospital or healthcare facility in the state, the state gave Planned Parenthood the authority to inspect and accredit themselves.   (See WAC 246-853-650(5))  No other entity or industry in Washington State has the authority to inspect themselves.

Planned Parenthood and Transgenderism

Another oddity of these bills is a new category of services that the state will be paying for.  Historically, Planned Parenthood has advocated for “women’s health.”  That term has served as a euphemism for ensuring that women can have as much sex as they want with as many people as they want without ever experiencing negative physical consequences.

As a result, legislation benefitting Planned Parenthood always contained a fairly predictable list of services addressing pregnancy prevention, pregnancy elimination, and treatments for the various diseases one picks up while having lots of sex with lots with different people who are also having lots of sex with lots of different people.

That’s why it was conspicuous, this year, when the usual list of birth control, abortions, and screenings included hormone treatment for people with gender dysphoria.

At first glance, it isn’t obvious why there is a connection between pregnancy, STD’s, abortions and gender dysphoria…until you realize that Planned Parenthood is making a move to get into the gender concealment hormone business as well. 

Yet another revenue stream.  

Some people like birth control, some people don’t.  Other people don’t really care.

But as you follow all these debates about who should pay for what and whether the state should be able to force religious organizations to do things that violate their beliefs, it’s important to remember that these debates have little to do with birth control.

Why has Washington State spent years trying to require companies to pay for 12 months worth of contraceptives at one time?

Why is Washington State requiring every insurance policy to cover every form of contraception regardless of moral objections?

Why has Washington State spent years trying to expand eligibility for Take Charge?

Why is Washington State creating a new program just like Take Charge for women who are in the United States illegally and therefore disqualified from being covered by Take Charge?

Why has Washington State created a dispensing fee that sends money to Planned Parenthood that others wouldn’t get for doing the exact same thing?

Money.

Sure, those pushing this legislation may actually believe that making birth control more accessible is making the world a better place, but that’s not why this issue is such a clear priority.  If the entity making all the money on these proposals wasn’t also making significant campaign contributions to all the people pushing this legislation you can bet the house we wouldn’t be debating contraception year, after year, after year.

However, they are making contributions, so politicians will do what is required to keep them coming.

Everyone says they hate crony capitalism, but when tilting the playing field ends up helping your friends and your campaign, it’s not that hard to rationalize why it’s actually a good idea.

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

[1] Hurt, K. Joseph; et al., eds. (2012-03-28). The Johns Hopkins manual of gynecology and obstetrics (4th ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 232. ISBN 978-1-60547-433-5.

Finding the Left Difficult to Talk To? This Might Be Why

Emerald City Metropolitan Community Church bills itself as “the original church for LGBTG+ people & allies in the Pacific Northwest.”  On their Facebook page yesterday, they posted something called “A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!” by Bishop John Shelby Spong who is a retired Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

It appears that it was written in 2009, but over the last decade, this sentiment has become increasingly pervasive among progressives generally, including those who identify as Christian.

“A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!
I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.

I will no longer listen to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to the pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ that suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess. Thus they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with high-sounding, pious rhetoric.

The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer.

The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding is to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.”

Next time you encounter a progressive who refuses to respond to reasonable questions asked in a respectful way, this may help you understand why.  They are not teaching each other that you are a bad person because you disagree with them, and because you are a bad person you do not deserve the respect associated with conversation.

They are convinced that ostracizing you and refusing to engage with you is the way to make the world a more loving place and they see no irony in that at all.

Of course, not everyone on the left thinks or behaves this way, but its best to know what you’re up against.  It’s getting crazy out there.

It is also worth pointing out that the left does not have a monopoly on incivility.  We know that you can’t fight hate with hate.  It is also true that if we want to be proponents of civility and respect, we have to make sure we’re modeling civility and respect which will require actually listening to people; especially those we disagree with.

 

Senate Committee Debates Employer Mandates, Abortion Coverage, and Gender Reassignment for Illegal Aliens

Yesterday, on the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Washington State Senate debated several bills abortion industry advocates have been pushing for years.

Last week, the Senate Health and Long-Term Care committee heard public testimony on Senate Bill 6219, which requires every insurance policy bought and sold in Washington State to pay for abortion as well as drugs that cause abortions (abortifacients).   It also prohibits cost sharing with the insured in the form of copays or deductibles for contraceptives or abortion.

During yesterday’s debate, the committee passed the bill and sent it to the full Senate for further consideration, rejecting an amendment from Sen. Ann Rivers from La Center that would have protected conscience rights of employers.

After the vote, the committee held public hearings on several bills, including two with a similar interest in contraception and abortion.  The bills were held until the very end of the two-hour committee meeting and dozens of people who signed in indicating their desire to testify did not have the opportunity to do so.

Senate Bill SB 6102  specifically targets employers and requires them to pay for abortions and every FDA approved form of contraception with their insurance plans, including those that cause abortions.  It also prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on the usage of contraception.

Senate Bill 6105 includes the abortion insurance mandate that exists in SB 6219 with the additional requirement that those health plans include coverage for every form of contraception as well as hormone treatments for those gender changes.  It also takes an additional step of creating a program to pay for the abortions, contraception, sterilizations, and gender change hormones of people who are not US citizens.

Abortion industry advocates argued that these bills were a needed step to improve access to contraception for women.  No evidence was presented on how many women who currently lack access to contraception would get it. Testimony included stories of unnamed women who had been discriminated against in the workplace because they use contraception, but none of those women were present themselves.

Auxiliary Bishop Mueggenborg testified in opposition to the legislation on behalf of the Catholic church citing the likelihood of litigation that would result from attempts to force religious employers to do things that violate their beliefs.

Other Washington State businesses also testified about the burden of being forced to do things that violate their deeply held religious beliefs.

Before the hearing on these bills, the committee also took testimony on a bill that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21.  That bill is being promoted by many, including the Attorney General, in the name of protecting young people. While FPIW does not have a position on the bill, there was a bit of irony in the timing.

Apparently “my body, my choice” works for getting abortions when you’re 13 or changing your gender when you’re 10, but not for purchasing cigarette’s when you’re 20.

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

 

Congress Passes Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Who Voted No?

Yesterday in Washington, DC, more than 100,000 people joined the annual March for Life calling for an end to abortion and legal protections for pre-born people.

Both President Trump and Vice-President Pence addressed the crowd.  It was the first time in the forty-five year history of the march that the President addressed it.

In recognition of the event, Congress voted on and passed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

The bill requires that any child born alive after a failed abortion be transported to a hospital and provides penalties to punish abortion providers who fail to give medical attention and care to these infants.

Despite the efforts of abortionists, babies sometimes survive efforts by doctors to kill them and end up screaming on a table in an abortion facility.

This bill would provide that baby the same right to medical care as every other person in the world since it has been born.

The truly remarkable thing about this bill is that 183 members of the United States Congress actually voted against it.  Every Republican voted in support as did six Democrats: Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania, Henry Cuellar of Texas, Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, both of Minnesota.  Every other Democrat voted against the bill.

In doing so, they voted to make it legal for babies who survive an abortion left alone to die, for as long as it takes them to die, simply because the other adults in the room would have preferred they not been born.

Members of Congress from Washington State who opposed the bill include Representatives Derek Kilmer, Adam Smith, Suzane DelBene, Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Denny Heck, and Rick Larsen.

 

 

Taxpayer Funded Sex-Change Operations for Non-Citizens?

In the first two weeks of the legislative session, a surprising priority has emerged: creating new state programs explicitly designed to pay for things for people who are not United States citizens.

Senate Bills 6219 and 6105 would create new programs that exist exclusively to pay for contraception, abortions, and perhaps sex-change operations for people who are not U.S. Citizens and are not eligible under federal law for assistance.

Senate Bill 6219, which received a public hearing the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee this week, requires every health plan in Washington State to pay for sterilization and contraception.  The bill also prohibits any form of cost-sharing through deductibles or copayments.  Section 4 of the legislation directs the state to reimburse costs for those who are not U.S. citizens.

Senate Bill 6105 also creates a program to reimburse costs for “medically appropriate services” for non-citizens but the list of things covered is more expansive and includes screenings for sexually transmitted diseases, counseling for diseases, and “services, drugs, devices and products for… gender dysphoria”

The bill does not explicitly authorize gender reassignment surgery for gender dysphoria,  but it is arguably a “service” for the treatment of gender dysphoria.  It certainly includes hormones for sex-changes.

Not only does the bill explicitly provide services for people who are not U.S. citizens, but it also lacks any requirements that beneficiaries be residents in Washington State.

SB 6105 could make Washington State a destination for the world’s gender dysphoric who would prefer to have Washingtonians pay for their surgeries. Gender concealment surgery is rarely covered by insurance.

One other bill pertaining to birth control and conscience rights is Senate Bill 6102 which requires employers who provide health insurance to cover every form of birth control, including abortifacients, at no cost to employees.  Section 1 of the bill states it is a direct response to actions at the federal level that have given businesses like Hobby Lobby the freedom not to pay for things that violate their beliefs.  Sponsors of this bill want to ensure that Washington businesses have no choice.

SB 6105 and SB 6102 will both have a public hearing at 10 a.m. in the Senate Health and Long-Term Care Committee on Monday, January 16th

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