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The Charlie Gard Story is the Fruit of a Terrible, Progressive Tree

Charlie Gard is a British baby who has a genetic illness that is probably terminal. He has been on life support, but the British doctors wanted to remove life support.

Not wanting to give up hope, Charlie’s parents raised over a million dollars to bring their child to the US for an experimental treatment that might save his life, though likely wouldn’t prevent him from being disabled.

But the hospital refused to release him to his parents so they could try.

The parents sued, but the courts agreed with the hospital that it was time for Charlie to die.

If you’re a parent, this probably makes you angry.

If you’re human, it should make you angry.

But this is more than an isolated, sad story about a sick baby.

This outcome is what progressives have been fighting so hard for. Even if they didn’t know it.

This isn’t merely parents and doctors with a difference of opinion.  It isn’t parents refusing to accept the inevitable.  It’s the state seizing custody from parents in order to hasten the death of a baby because they believe its in the child’s best interest to die.  It’s the state denying parents the opportunity to try, slim as the chance may be.

When you take the position that human life has value only to the extent it helps other humans, this is what you get.

When the power to make life and death decisions about health care is taken away from families and given to government, this is what you get.

When you are convinced that government is better at determining what is good for a child than the parents, this is what you get.

You get laws that give a mother the right to kill her child but prohibit her from trying to keep him alive.

Is everyone left-of-center happy that Charlie Gard has been taken from his parents so the state can facilitate his death?  Certainly not.  But if  you don’t like the fruit, stop watering the tree.

This is Europe.

This is progressivism.

Don’t let it happen here.

 

Religious Liberty Executive Order Good First Step

Affirming that our liberties are a gift of God that no government can rightfully take away, President Donald Trump today signed the long-awaited executive order on religious liberty.

The executive order has two main components. First, it directs government officials to consider changing regulations to allow conscience-based objections to the contraceptive mandate, which requires insurance plans to cover contraceptives and abortifacients.

Second, it instructs federal agencies to avoid penalizing tax-exempt organizations, including churches, that “speak about moral or political issues from a religious perspective.”

Speaking to the press in the White House Rose Garden before signing the executive order, the president reiterated his belief that “for too long, the federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith, bullying and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs.”

While there is hope that today’s executive order will be a first step to restoring religious liberty, there remain grave threats to the fundamental freedom to live according to the dictates of one’s faith and conscience.

Joseph Backholm, President of FPIW, says he is “cautiously optimistic” about the executive order, calling it “a step in the right direction.”

Backholm hopes the executive order will be used by federal agencies to “develop comprehensive rules protecting religious liberties.”

Some religious liberty advocates, including the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson, expressed their concern that the executive order fails to make substantive reforms protecting religious liberty. In a press release today, Alliance Defending Freedom President Michael Ferris said the executive order amounts to “vague instructions to federal agencies [that] simply leaves them wiggle room to ignore [the] gesture.”

A draft of the executive order released in February included far greater protections for religious liberty. That draft protected the rights of those—including federal employees, religious organizations, and some businesses—who believe in traditional marriage and the traditional conception of two genders, male and female. These protections were not included in the executive order signed today.

“Our founding fathers believed that religious liberty was so fundamental that they enshrined it in the very first amendment of our great and beloved constitution,” President Trump said in the Rose Garden press conference today. “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith.”

On that, Mr. President, we wholeheartedly agree.

FPIW Joins Effort to Encourage Trump to Protect Religious Freedom

FPIW has joined with dozens of pro-family organizations asking President Trump “to swiftly sign a broad religious freedom Executive Order protecting the right of all Americans to freely live out their faith.”

In a letter to President Trump, Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Majority Leader McConnell, the organizations call on the new presidential administration and Congress to reverse President Obama’s attacks on religious freedom and enact strong protections for the sacred right.

The letter evokes many high profile religious liberty cases of the last eight years, including Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of the Poor, Illinois Catholic Charities, and Sweet Cakes by Melissa:

“Under his ‘hallmark achievement’ (Obamacare) alone, the Obama Administration attempted to: force Christian family-owned businesses like Hobby Lobby to pay for drugs and devices that can cause early abortions, force Christian charities like the Little Sisters of the Poor to include those same drugs in their healthcare plans, and contravene longstanding federal policy protecting Americans from being forced to fund abortions against their religious beliefs. …

“Families in our states have felt the impact of the disregard and disdain for religious freedom from the federal level. Frequently, state non-discrimination laws have been used as a weapon to punish people of faith and prevent them from earning a living— unless they comport their businesses in the image of the government’s viewpoints. The Kleins in Oregon are a tragic example—Melissa Klein lost her bakery business and was forced to pay a fine of over $100,000 simply because as a family-owned business operated in accordance with the Kleins’ deeply held beliefs, they disagreed with using Melissa’s cake-decorating talents to participate in a same-sex wedding. Illinois Catholic Charities—an organization that partnered with government to serve the state’s poor and neglected children for over 40 years—was forced to shut down rather than comply with the government’s rule requiring them to abandon the core convictions that motivated their charity in the first place.”

It also details the Obama Administration’s attempts to limit religious liberty to a more restricted “freedom to worship”:

“The Administration unsuccessfully argued that the First Amendment does not exempt churches from employment discrimination laws, even when hiring their own pastors and teachers. Ironically, in the name of ‘preventing discrimination,’ President Obama issued an Executive Order in 2014 that discriminates against faith-based entities by preventing them from contracting with their own government unless they forfeit their religious beliefs about human sex and sexuality. One final example is the Obama Administration’s regular use of the term ‘freedom of worship’ instead of ‘freedom of religion’—implying a deep misunderstanding about the depth of First Amendment protections. We are guaranteed the right to freely live out our faith in all aspects of life—not just the freedom to worship our God within the four walls of our church or home.”

The letter concludes by asking President Trump to sign an executive order protecting religious liberty, much like the proposed executive order that was leaked earlier this month:

“A broad religious freedom Executive Order affirming that persons and organizations do not forfeit their religious freedom when providing social services, education, or healthcare; earning a living, seeking a job, or employing others; receiving government grants or contracts; or otherwise participating in the marketplace, the public square, or interfacing with local, state, or federal governments is an excellent and vital first step to truly make religious freedom great again. Congress should follow your lead to pass strong religious freedom protections into law.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety.

Write to President Trump and ask him to sign the executive order: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact#page.

House Committee Debates Bringing Obamacare Mandates to Washington

Should controversial mandates from Obamacare—which many believe are on the way out in Washington, D.C.—be made a permanent part of Washington State law?

That is the question the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee considered this morning.  The committee heard public testimony on HB 1523, which would require all health insurance plans to cover all preventative services required under federal law as of December 31, 2016.  It also bans plans that would share the cost of any of those services with employees.

Even before public testimony was heard, members of the committee expressed concern about the details of the bill.  The one-page bill is remarkably short.  However, it incorporates hundreds of pages of federal law and an untold volume of “guidance” into Washington State law.  No one seemed to have an understanding of exactly what the mandates do and do not cover.

Some of those who came to Olympia today to express concerns about HB 1523. From left to right: Brett Kinney, Electric Mirror; Michael Pauley, Human Life of Washington, Arina Grossu, Family Research Council, Luke Esser, Washington State Catholic Conference

Proponents of the bill argued that mandatory coverage for “preventative care” would make it easier to detect diseases like cancer at a time when it was most treatable.

But concerns about the legislation focused on very different issues.

Arina Grossu, from the Family Research Council, testified that the mandate to cover “preventative services” includes requirements to pay for abortifacients like Plan B and Ella, which destroy human embryos and are therefore objected to as a matter of conscience by many.

Brett Kinney, Director of Business Operations for Everett-based manufacturer Electric Mirror, explained the concerns of businesses owners in being forced to pay for a product that violates the beliefs of business owners:

“We offer a comprehensive affordable medical plan to our nearly 400 employees that does not include abortifacients. Not once have we heard complaints that our medical plan or the prescriptive drug plan was not adequate to serve the needs of our employees which includes over 100 women ages 18 to 70.  This bill is trying to solve a problem that is not a problem and forcing us the employer to add cost which reduces our ability to grow our business and put more people to work.”

The Washington State Catholic Conference also offered testimony stating that they will not comply with legislation that forces them to pay for abortifacients, regardless of what the law says.

In addition to concerns about conscience rights, insurance industry representatives expressed concern that the bill appears to be an attempt to preempt a change in federal law before those changes actually take place.  They expressed a preference for waiting to see what happens in Washington, D.C., before reacting to it.

Obamacare mandates involving abortifacients led businesses like Hobby Lobby to sue the federal government, claiming that such mandates violate their religious beliefs.  In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court held that the mandates were invalid because they violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  However, Washington State does not have a state RFRA, which means the protections for conscience rights in Washington State are less robust than those that restrain actions of the federal government.

To advance, this bill needs the support of a majority of the members of the House Healthcare and Wellness Committee.

If that happens, it would need to receive passage from the entire House of Representatives before moving to the Senate for consideration.

Please contact your legislators and share your thoughts about this and any other issue through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here. 

As always, be respectful but be heard.  If you don’t speak for yourself, someone will speak for you.

 

 

FPIW Signs Letter Asking Congress to Adopt Pro-life Healthcare Reforms

Recognizing the potential for unprecedented action on healthcare reform during the 115th US Congress, several pro-life organizations have delivered a letter to legislators, calling on them to ensure that any healthcare reforms prohibit federal taxpayer dollars from being used for abortion.

Joseph Backholm, President of Family Policy Institute of Washington, signed on to the letter, joining representatives from Family Research Council, Priests for Life, American Center for Law and Justice, National Right to Life, Christian Medical Association, Students for Life of America, and dozens of other pro-life organizations.

Congress is currently considering several legislative proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The letter, which was delivered to Republican Members of Congress today, reminds them that “any bill funding healthcare must carry restrictions on abortion funding or it will end up funding the brutal practice of abortion.”

“We are greatly encouraged by the many Republican healthcare proposals that embrace the principle that abortion is not healthcare and should not be incentivized through federal healthcare programs including tax credits for health insurance,” the letter says.

The letter can be read in its entirety here.

 

 

Religious Freedom Executive Order Leaked; Progressives Panic

For many, it could define his Presidency.  And it’s a decision that could come within the first month of his term.

A leak of an executive order on religious freedom indicates that President Trump is seriously considering actions that would roll back many of the Obama Administration’s  assaults on religious freedom.

Generally, they’re concerned it would give individuals and religious organizations too much freedom.  This article from the Daily Signal summarizes some of what it would do.

  • Clarifies that religious exercise is more than worship: It tells the entire federal government to respect federal statutes and Supreme Court decisions that make clear the free exercise of religion applies to all people, of all faiths, in all places, and at all times—that it is not merely the freedom to worship.
  • Clarifies that religious freedom is for more than just churches: It notes that religious organizations include all organizations operated by religious principles, not just houses of worship or charities. And it follows the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in saying that religious exercise “includes all aspects of religious observance and practice,” not just those absolutely required by a faith.
  • Requires federal agencies to accommodate religious belief: It instructs all agencies of the federal government, “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law,” to reasonably accommodate the religion of federal employees, as required by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
  • Orders relief for Little Sisters of the Poor: It instructs the secretaries of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury to finally grant relief to the Little Sisters of the Poor and others who weren’t exempted from the Obamacare abortifacient and contraception mandate.
  • Requires availability of health insurance without abortion coverage: It instructs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure that all citizens have the ability to purchase health care plans through Obamacare that do not cover abortion or subsidize plans that do.
  • Prohibits discrimination against social service organizations because of their faith: It instructs the Secretary of Health and Human services to ensure that the federal government does not discriminate against child welfare providers, such as foster care and adoption services, based on an organization’s religious beliefs.
  • Creates protections for religious organizations that contract with the government: It adopts the Russell Amendment and instructs all agencies of the federal government to provide protections and exemptions consistent with the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act to all religious organizations that contract with the federal government or receive grants.
  • Protects tax exempt status for religious organizations: It instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to ensure that it does not revoke nonprofit tax status because a religious organization’s ordinary religious speech deals with politics, or because it speaks or acts on the belief that marriage is the union of husband and wife, that a person’s sex is based on immutable biology, or that life begins at conception.
  • Protects accreditation of religious institutions: It instructs all agencies of the federal government to refuse to recognize any decision by a federally recognized accrediting body that revokes or denies accreditation to an organization because of such beliefs.
  • Protects federal employees from discrimination based on beliefs: It instructs all agencies that they may not take adverse action against federal employees, contractors, or grantees because of their speech about marriage outside of their employment, contract, or grant, and that agencies shall reasonably accommodate such beliefs inside of employment, contract, or grant.

While these protections would be a change from the Obama Administration’s posture on religious freedom, historically it would represent a return the mainstream.

All these protections in the executive order were more or less assumed prior to President Obama taking office and progressives believing they now had an inalienable right to make people do things they didn’t want to do in the name of ending “discrimination.”

While progressives have already labeled them as plans to “legalize discrimination“, they’re mostly a restatement of what religious freedom has always been understood to mean.

Namely, a place where people get to be who they are and the government doesn’t get to punish them for it.

You can be sure that progressives will be beating down the doors trying to convince the president not to make good on his campaign promises.

Which is exactly why he needs to hear from you.  Call the White House and tell President Trump that you want him to fulfill his campaign promises and protect religious freedom. (202)-456-1414.  Or send a message online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Then share this with your friends and encourage them to do the same.

How President-Elect Trump Made Progressives Like “Discrimination” Again

What a difference eight years makes.

When President Obama was elected in 2008, he campaigned on the idea that marriage was a relationship between a man and a woman.

His political party was obviously good with that.

When he leaves office tomorrow, most of that same political party believes that people who hold the position he held when he was elected President should lose their businesses for it.

As a result bakers, florists, print shops, pizza shops owners, photographers, graduate students and fire chiefs suffered the wrath of a mob that somewhere along the way decided that tolerance only meant tolerating beliefs you agreed with or understood.

In principle, Americans have long agreed that “tolerance” is a good thing.

But only recently did we decide that “tolerance” required you to support events, messages, and activities you personally opposed.

But then Donald Trump was elected President.

And that changed everything.

To be sure, it’s a dramatic shift in the nature of the leadership coming from Washington, D.C.

But for progressives, it also required a change in their core principles.

For years they told those who didn’t support their view of marriage and sexuality that abstention was a sign of invidious bigotry. But overnight, it became a moral necessity.

Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday (who had performed for four previous Presidents) agreed to sing the national anthem at the inauguration, but she withdrew after receiving an avalanche of ridicule up to and including death threats and calls for her suicide.

Not only were they willing to tolerate people who declined to participate in certain events, they demanded it.

Ms. Holliday had hoped her voice would help bring people together.   But, as she described it, she didn’t realize that, “We’re not doing America right now.”

When Nicole Kidman tweeted that “…we as a country need to support whoever’s the president because that’s what the country is based on,” the mob demanded (and eventually received) an apology.

As if that statement is something requiring an apology.

The designer who declined to design a dress for Melania Trump was applauded instead of picketed.

When members of the Rockette’s objected to leg-kicking for the President-elect, the progressive mob showed no indignation at their obviously discriminatory preferences but defended their right of conscience.

The difference is obvious.

The mob agrees with their convictions and consequently has sympathy for their decision to abstain.

The hypocrisy, however, is equally obvious.

If you believe in freedom only for those who agree with you, you don’t really believe in freedom.

Progressives will attempt to make a distinction between the singers who opted not to sing at the inauguration and the florists who declined to decorate for a same-sex wedding. “Sexual orientation is a protected class,” they insist, “but whatever category you wish to put Donald Trump into is not.”

But that attempt to make a distinction simply ignores the fact that protected class status is a function of a political majority’s preferences.

What if “presidents who wanted to build a wall on the Mexican boarder” were designated as a protected class who could not be discriminated against?

Should that change the rights of singers to decline to be part of the inauguration?

Of course not.

But under their preferred framework, it would.

It has been commonplace throughout history that those in power would use their power to punish their political opponents until such a time as their political opponents figure out a way to wrestle power away from them and then they use that power to exact revenge.

America isn’t supposed to be that way.

Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were created out of recognition that all of us have rights that must be protected even if no one else agrees with us or even likes us.

And no one has the right to make someone else do something they don’t want to do.

Some of us forgot this over the past eight years, but now we have a chance to remember.

We have the opportunity to reestablish the idea that freedom is good even if the way it is used offends you.

The freedom to “discriminate” isn’t always a crisis because one man’s “discrimination” is another man’s right of conscience.

Sometimes we might be the majority.  Sometimes we might not.  But that shouldn’t have any bearing on whether people can be compelled to do things that violate their conscience.

Conservatives have been making this argument for years.  Now that they’ve lost an election, progressives are coming around as well.

If Trump’s election helped bring us together again on this point, perhaps he is making America great again, already.

Should Women Be Able to Sue Doctors for the Emotional Damage from Abortion?

It’s no secret that abortion can cause significant emotional damage to women who choose it.  But should women be able to sue their doctors if they experience emotional damage from an abortion?

Iowa State Senator Mark Chelgren thinks so and has introduced legislation that would do just that.

In an interview with Fox News, Sen. Chelgren explained the purpose of the bill.

“What we’re asking for is that individuals, doctors and clinics that make money off of women by giving them abortions are simply held accountable. That’s all this does. It protects women from people who would normally be trying to sell them something in a time when they are under the most stress that is kind of imaginable.”

The legislation allows a lawsuit regardless of how much time has passed since the abortion.

Despite the fact that emotional risks associated with abortion are well documented, no state currently has a law that specifically permits lawsuits for those harms.

Known side effects from abortion include regret, anger, guilt, shame, a sense of loneliness or isolation, loss of self confidence, insomnia or nightmares, relationship issues, suicidal thoughts and feelings, eating disordersdepression, and anxiety.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, AmericanPregnancy.org describes that the risk of side effects has a lot to do with the the mother’s beliefs about the baby.

“Those who believe it is not a baby until it is born have less of a chance of experiencing negative emotional consequences. However, those who believe it is a baby are more likely to experience negative emotional side effects.”

If passed, the legislation would likely create a deterrent to doctors performing abortions.

As a result, abortion industry advocates are describing the legislation as “anti-woman.”

Is this an appropriate way to limit the number of doctors willing to provide abortions? Comment below.

 

Klippert Bill Would Ban Sale, Use, Donation of Aborted Fetal Tissue

As the legislative session picks up steam, so does the ongoing debate over aborted fetal tissue in Washington State.

Yesterday, we wrote about a new effort in Congress to eliminate federal funding from entities that traffic in aborted fetal tissue.

The effort picked up steam in Washington State as well as Rep. Brad Klippert, from Kennewick, introduced House Bill 1243 to ban the sale, use, and donation of aborted fetal tissue.

The legislation comes on the heals of a Final Report by the Select Panel on Infant Lives, commissioned by the House of Representatives, which discovered that the largest bank of aborted fetal tissue in the United States was the Birth Defects Research Lab (BDRL) at the University of Washington.

According to the final report, BDRL has procured aborted fetal tissue from thirteen separate abortion providers in Washington State and distributed aborted fetal tissue to forty different entities around the country.

All of that would become illegal under the proposal.

In addition to banning the use of aborted fetal tissue, the legislation would also require the remains of an aborted baby “be decently buried, or cremated within a reasonable time after death.”

The legislation has thirteen co-sponsors in addition to Rep. Klippert.

The bill has been assigned to the House Health Care and Wellness Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

You are encouraged to contact your legislators about this legislation through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Who Else, Besides Planned Parenthood, Should Lose Federal Funding?

Planned Parenthood has received a lot of public scrutiny lately.  Even before the Center For Medical Progress released videos that revealed how intricately Planned Parenthood is involved in the trafficking of aborted baby parts, they were already the nation’s number one provider of abortions with a very troubling past.

President-elect Trump has promised to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that effort is included in a critical reconciliation bill.

But Planned Parenthood isn’t the only entity deserving of losing its federal funds.

Last week we wrote about the Birth Defects Research Lab (BDRL) at the University of Washington and its refusal to cooperate with federal subpoenas.

Their refusal to cooperate with subpoenas or respond to public records requests means there are many things we do not know about the BDRL.

But the things we do know raise serious concerns about the wisdom of giving them federal tax dollars.

In response to the disturbing videos from the Center for Medical Progress, the House of Representatives created a Select Panel on Infant Lives to investigate whether baby body parts were being sold for a profit.

The Select Panel’s final report was released on December 30th. 

Along with fifteen recommendations for criminal charges for Planned Parenthood and related entities, the Select Panel’s final report identified the BDRL at UW as the largest bank of aborted fetal tissue in America.

They have received aborted fetal tissue from thirteen different entities around the country (though all but one are in Washington State) and they have provided aborted fetal tissue to more than forty entities throughout the world.

They are also funded by federal tax dollars. In 2015, they received a $600,000 grant from the National Institute for Health to fund general operations.

In addition, the doctors who work at the Birth Defects Research Lab are also abortionists who perform abortions at some of the same abortion clinics that provide the BDRL with aborted fetal tissue.  Others BDRL doctors have focused their research on abortion.

When the Select Panel subpoenaed documents from the BDRL, the documents they provided concealed much of the information the Panel was actually requesting. They described UW’s cooperation with their subpoena in this way:

“The invoices either do not specify what clinic services are involved or, when they apparently elaborate on the nature of such services, those elaborations are redacted—rendering it impossible for the Panel to conduct a forensic analysis of UW’s financial arrangements with clinics. UW’s incomplete production raises more questions than it answers and demonstrates the need for further investigation” [1]

Setting aside the nature of the work taking place at the BDRL, there is something people of every political persuasion should be able to agree upon.

Entities subject to public records laws that do not want the public to know what they are doing should not be funded by the taxpayers. If you want to do something privately, do not ask for public money to do it.

Regardless, there is simply no good reason tax dollars should ever be used to fund those who traffic in aborted baby parts.

The Hyde Amendment is a federal law prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion.  It is a recognition of the fact that hundreds of millions of Americans do not want their money being used to pay for abortions.

Since we have the decency to honor the Hyde Amendment, why would we require federal tax dollars to be used to fund the dissection of aborted babies?

But what about the lost opportunity to cure diseases? Significantly, the Select Panel’s Final Report noted that there is more than enough tissue from babies who die naturally through miscarriage to support all current research.

Selling the parts of aborted babies isn’t necessary for science and it isn’t something civilized people do.  Moreover, entities that refuse to allow the public to inspect their activities should not be funded by the public.

Last week I was in Washington DC discussing the appropriateness of tax dollars being used to fund the BDRL and others who traffic in aborted body parts.  For the most part, Congress was unaware that this was happening and they were universally unaware of how hard the BDRL is working to keep their publicly funded work from being seen by the public.

But when they learned, they were as concerned as you are.

While there is a great deal of sympathy, that will translate into action when the public demonstrates it matters to them.  That’s why they need to hear from you on this issue.

To contact your U.S. Representative about this issue click here.

For contact information for your U.S. Senators click here.

Additionally, proposed just today in Olympia, House Bill 1243 would prohibit the sale, donation, or use of aborted fetal body parts in Washington State.  Please contact your legislators here to share your thought on that legislation.

[1] Select Panel on Infant Lives Final Report pg. 259-260