Bills Advance

The House of Representatives passed two bills that they revisited this year after passing previous versions last year only to have them die in the Senate.

SB 5870 deals with aversion therapy.  Originally, the bill was an attempt to ban all forms of therapy that would help a minor deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.  It’s proponents claimed it was necessary in order to prevent children from being subjected to  shock therapy and ice baths.  However, the bill was amended by the Senate to in order to ban aversive therapies like ice baths and shock therapy without regulating the kind of talk therapy therapists were allowed to have with clients who requested it.  That version passed the Senate unanimously.

However, once it reached the House, it was once again amended to regulate talk therapy.  The House passed the bill 60-37.

Because changes were made to the version of the bill passed by the Senate, it will have to go back to the Senate to see if they will approve the chances.  They are not expected to.

SB 5715 was also passed by the House of Representatives.  This bill deals with telemedicine and was defeated in the Senate last year after being approved by the House because of concerns that it would make it possible for telemedicine to be used to remotely prescribe chemical abortions.  This is especially problematic in a state like Washington that does not require parental notification for abortions.

However, the version passed out of the Senate limited the application of the bill to “essential benefits” under the Affordable Care Act, which excludes abortions.

This bill passed the House 88-9 and will now go to the Governor’s desk for a signature.

Who Doesn’t Oppose Child Abuse?

“It’s child abuse,” they told us. “It must be stopped.”

It was the 2014 legislative session and we heard about kids being subjected to shock treatments or being put in ice baths and made to watch gay pornography in an effort to stop them from being gay.

Understandably, everyone was appalled.

These stories, we were told, are the reason it is so critical to support legislation that bans therapy to help a child deal with unwanted same-sex attraction.

Moments before the House of Representatives voted to pass the bill, Rep. Laurie Jinkins told an emotional story about her friend who was involuntarily institutionalized by her parents and subjected to shock treatments. “That is the kind of abuse that none of us wants to see for any child ever. And that is what this bill addresses.”

With that, the bill passed the House of Representatives and moved to the Senate.

After all, no one likes child abuse.

In the Senate, legislators starting paying just as much attention to the bill itself as the stories being told about child abuse.

And when they did, it became apparent that the bill did much more than protect kids from things like involuntary shock treatments.

In fact, it prohibited licensed therapists from using talk therapy to help a minor reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attraction. The ban even extended to church employees and pastors who happened to be licensed therapists.

Under the bill, church employees could have been professionally reprimanded for simply communicating their church’s understanding of human sexuality.

Furthermore, it would have taken choices away from clients and made it impossible for a minor to get help from a licensed therapist for unwanted same-sex attraction.

None of this had anything to do with stopping ice baths or shock therapy.

The bill failed to pass the Senate.

But at the beginning of this legislative session, the issue was reintroduced.

Built on the areas of agreement (let’s stop child abuse) while avoiding points of contention (let’s prohibit speech we dislike), the Senate advanced a narrower version of the bill (SB 5870) which prohibited aversive therapies like shock treatment and ice baths but did not attempt to restrict the kinds of talk therapy a client could request.

On March 11, it passed the Senate without opposition.

However, yesterday morning, when the House Health Care and Wellness Committee held a public hearing on the bill, something amazing happened.

The same people who spent the last year talking about the need to protect children from ice baths and shock therapy suddenly and strongly opposed a bill specifically designed for that purpose.

What was the problem?

The bill didn’t go far enough. “It must restrict talk therapy”, they said.

Last year, not a word was uttered about the need to ban talk therapy because everyone was so horrified by the stories of involuntary shock therapy.

All they talked about was the need to protect kids from child abuse.

But now that they have been given the chance to stop involuntary shock therapy without the ability to regulate conversations…suddenly shock therapy isn’t such a big deal.

There are two things we can learn from this recent development.

First, the advocates of this bill have always been mostly interested in prohibiting conversations they dislike, not stopping physical forms of child abuse everyone opposes.

The attempt to focus on stories of abuse was just part of the bait and switch. People suspected as much before, but now they have admitted it.

Second, and maybe more importantly, the fact that they are willing to oppose a bill to stop child abuse in the hopes that they can pass a bill to ban conversations illustrates the depth of their conviction about this issue.

From their perspective, telling kids same-sex attraction is not necessarily permanent is child abuse. The harm of involuntary shock therapy and the “harm” of a child being told change is possible are the same.

If this tactic is successful now, it won’t just be the therapists who are affected.

If it is “child abuse” for a therapist to tell a child that sexual desires can be controlled or changed, why wouldn’t it be child abuse for someone else to say the same thing?

The only limits are political. You don’t limit “child abuse” selectively. All you pastors, unlicensed counselors, friends and parents who believe homosexuality is wrong and sexual desires can change be warned. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Nonsense, you say. The First Amendment protects my right to say whatever I want.

Arlene’s Flowers believed the First Amendment’s guarantee to the free exercise of religion protected her right to decide which events she celebrated in her business. And once upon a time it did. But now the courts say that the state’s “compelling interest” in stopping “discrimination” in public accommodations trumps the first amendment.

The state also has a compelling interest in stopping child abuse as well.

The First Amendment will be just a speed bump.

Unless we act to stand up for the therapists and the florists who are the current targets.

You can contact your legislators about this issue through the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them here.

Legislative Session Halftime Report

Yesterday, the 59th day of the legislative session, was the halfway point of the legislative process and the deadline to get bills out of the house of origin. Any bills that were not passed out of the chamber in which they were introduced are most likely dead for this year.

Here is a quick look at the bills that we have been tracking and where they stand.

 

Parental Notification for Abortion
SB 5289 (Likely Dead)

This bill, which would require parents to be notified before a minor receives an abortion, passed out of the Senate Law and Justice Committee and the Rules Committee. However, it was not brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

This was the furthest parental notification has advanced in years, thanks to the dedicated efforts of Sen. Mike Padden who sponsored the bill and many of you who contacted your legislators about this issue.

Despite strong public support for parental notification, only twenty-four senators indicated their willingness to support it.  That total included twenty two Republicans and two Democrats, Sen. Jim Hargrove and Sen. Tim Sheldon, that latter caucuses with the Republicans. Twenty-five votes are necessary to pass a bill in the Senate. Republican Senators Andy Hill, Joe Fain, and Steve Litzow either opposed or were unwilling to support the bill.

 

Abortion Insurance Mandate
HB 1647 (Passed House, moved to Senate)

This bill was a slightly modified version of a bill that has passed the House but has been defeated in the Senate each of the last three years. Like the other bills, it sought to require every private insurance policy in Washington State to cover abortion.

This bill passed out of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee and passed the House on party lines with the exceptions of Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz, who voted in favor and Democrat Rep. Chris Hurst, who voted against it.

The bill is once again expected to die in the Senate.

 

Sexual Orientation Change Therapy
SB 5870, HB 1972 (Passed the Senate, moved to House)

These bills initially attempted to make it professional misconduct for a therapist to help a minor with unwanted same-sex attraction. While House bill 1972 never advanced, Senate bill 5870 was amended in committee to prohibit only aversive therapies like ice baths and shock therapies for minors in all circumstances.

The bill no longer attempts to regulate speech between therapists and patients, nor does it any longer seek to prevent clients from receiving the kind of therapy they want. The behavior it purports to prohibit is probably already prohibited by professional rules, criminal law, or both.

However, by passing this bill, it eliminates the argument that it is necessary to ban all forms of therapy to help kids with unwanted same-sex attraction in an attempt to protect kids from aversive therapies.

With these changes, SB 5870 passed the Senate without opposition and is expected to pass the House as well.

 

Eliminating Immunization Exemptions
HB 2009 (Likely Dead)

Current law allows children to be exempted from the immunization requirements for health reasons, religious reasons, or for the personal objection of the parents. This bill would have eliminated the personal objection exemption, which is cited in seventy percent of the cases in which exemptions are granted.

The bill passed the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, but was not brought up for a vote before the deadline.

 

Telemedicine/Webcam Abortions
SB 5175 (Passed the Senate, moves to the House)

This bill would facilitate payment for medicine provided remotely through webcam consultations. While generally uncontroversial in principle, prior versions of the bill would have made it possible for the abortion industry to use this technology to prescribe chemical abortions remotely. This would be particularly problematic  in Washington State which lacks a parental notification requirement. There was concern that children would be receiving abortion drugs without their parents awareness while the medical professionals were hundreds of miles away.

The bill was amended in committee so that reimbursement for telemedicine is available only for essential benefits under the Affordable Care Act, which does not include abortions.

With that change, the bill passed the Senate without opposition and is expected to pass the House.

 

Requiring Informed Consent for Assisted Suicide
SB 5919 (Passed Senate, moves to the House)

This bill would require that a patient be advised of all treatment options and possibilities for cure before being given a prescription for drugs intended to end their life.

The surprisingly controversial measure passed the Senate 34-14 and now moves to the House for a vote.

 

Making it Easier for Religious Objectors to Opt-Out of Unions
SB 5552 (Likely Dead)

This bill would make it easier for those who are religious objectors to union membership to opt out of funding causes they disagree. It would remove the unions power to direct which charities receive the money that would otherwise go to the union in the form of union dues.

The bill passed the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee but was not brought up for consideration on the Senate floor.

 

Prohibiting Wrongful Life Lawsuits
SB 5747 (Likely Dead)

This bill would eliminate lawsuits by parents who claim they were injured by the failure to diagnose a birth defect that led to the birth of a child they otherwise would have aborted.

This bill had a hearing in the Senate Law and Justice committee but did not make it out of committee.

 

Other Bills of Note

Three other bills we were tracking did not have a hearing and are now considered to be dead bills. They are:

  1. A bill to require every employer to provide objectionable contraceptives in their employee health plans (SB 5026, HB 1502)
  2. A bill that would give grandparents the right to petition the court for visitation with their grandchildren over the objection of the parents (SB 5005)
  3. A bill that would clarify that life begins at conception (HB 1687)

Summary

While it is unfortunate that parental notification was not passed by the Senate, it did advance further than it has in more than a decade. Efforts to mandate abortion insurance, ban therapy that helps minors with unwanted same-sex attraction, facilitate webcam abortions, and taking away parental control of the decision to immunize have been stopped.

Thousands of people from every corner of Washington State have contributed to the results so far. Your participation in the process makes a tremendous difference.

That being said, nothing in the legislature is final until the legislators go home. Bills have been designated as “likely dead” because any legislative issue can be resurrected at any time if the political will exists. During the second half of the session, bills that failed to pass on their own are often proposed as amendments to other bills dealing with the same or similar issue.

Whether you are supporting or opposing an idea, continue to communicate your thoughts with your legislators by emailing them and calling them at the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

For more details on all of these bills click here.

Remember, the legislature is the thermometer, the people are the thermostat. If you don’t like the temperature, change it.

Thank you for making a difference.

House Hears Bill Making It Harder to be Exempted from Vaccines

This morning in the Washington State legislature, the House Health Care and Wellness Committee held a hearing on legislation (HB 2009) that would make it more difficult for parents to exempt their children from immunization requirements.

Currently, Washington State requires children to receive certain immunizations unless there are health reasons not to, the parents have a personal or philosophical objection to the immunizations, or they have a religious objection to immunizations.

 This bill would remove the “personal or philosophical objection” requirement.

For parents, this issue is very personal.

Rep. June Robinson, the prime sponsor of the bill, stated that she introduced the bill in response to the measles outbreak around the country. She says that a lot of diseases that were once eradicated are now coming back, largely due to the fact that kids are not receiving their immunization.

Ziggy Siegfried of Spokane questioned the seriousness of the outbreak. “Over the weekend I read that there were four cases of measles statewide. It is hard for me to be concerned about four cases of measles because when I was six years-old, back in the 60’s, there were five cases of measles in my living room.”

These mom’s told the Senate that they should be the ones to decide what medical treatment their children receive.

Proponents of the legislation, including former Secretary of State Ralph Munro and several public health advocacy groups, noted that 4.6% of children in Washington have been exempted out of the vaccine requirement, which is higher than most states. Seventy percent of those who have opted out have cited “personal objection” as the reason for doing so.

They argued that low rates of vaccinations, including some schools in which 30-40% of students have not received all the required vaccinations, are causing communities to lose their community immunity and therefore are risking the reoccurrence of diseases previously eradicated.

Opponents of the legislation argued that it is the parents right to decline or consent to health care provided to their children. They cited legal immunity given to pharmaceuticals and the fact that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has paid out more than $3 Billion in damages from immunizations as evidence that there are risks for vaccines. They argued that parents should be the ones to decide if the benefits outweigh the risks for their child.

This dad showed up at 5:40 am so he could testify in defense of his parental rights.

Proponents claimed that the low immunization rate was often due to a lack of information. Several parent’s told the committee that the reason they are concerned about vaccinations is not because they are uninformed but because they are very informed and have concluded that the risk to their children outweigh the benefits.

You can watch the entire public hearing on HB 2009 by clicking here. The hearing on the immunization bill begins at the 41:00 minute mark.

This House Health Care and Wellness Committee has until Friday to take action on this bill. The members of the committee are listed below. If the bill is supported by a majority of the committee it would then move to the full House for consideration before moving to the Senate.

Rep. Eileen Cody (Chair)  360-786-7978
Rep. Marcus Riccelli   360-786-7888
Rep. Joe Schmick   360-7844
Rep. Paul Harris   360-7867976
Rep. Michelle Caldier   360-786-7802
Rep. Judy Clibborn   360-786-7926
Rep. Richard DeBolt   360-786-7896
Rep. Laurie Jinkins   360-786-7930
Rep. Norm Johnson   360-786-7810
Rep. Jim Moeller   360-786-7872
Rep. June Robinson (Prime Sponsor)  360-786-7864
Rep. Jay Rodne   360-786-7852
Rep. Shelly Short   360-786-7908
Rep. Steve Tharinger   360-786-7904
Rep. Kevin Van De Wege   360-786-7916

You are encouraged to contact your representatives and share your thoughts on this bill through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000.

You can also email them by clicking here.

Mobilization Monday Update

ABORTION  INSURANCE  MANDATE
SB 5574 & HB 1647

House Bill 1647 – Concerning health plan coverage of reproductive health care.
Prime Sponsor: Representative Eileen Cody, 34th LD
House Committee: Health Care & Wellness

Senate Bill 5574 – Companion Bill
Prime Sponsor: Senator Steve Hobbs, 44th LD
Senate Committee: Health Care 

SUMMARY: It requires every insurance policy to cover every form of contraception, abortion, and sterilization and forbids the policy from charging a deductible or copay. Read the companion bill.

 

STATUS

SB 5574: 1/26/15, referred to Senate Health Care Committee on 1/26/15. No further movement, as of 2/9/15.

HB 1647: Scheduled for PUBLIC HEARING in the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness at 8:00 AM,TOMORROW, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2015.

TOMORROW
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10
Hearing is 8:00 AM.
Arrive by 7:00 AM.
John L. O’Brien Building
Hearing Room A

 

ACTION: SHOW UP

  1. Attend House Legislative Committee on Health Care & Wellness Public Hearing on HB 1647
  2. CALL  1 (800) 562-6000     Let ALL your legislators know what your thoughts are concerning HB 1647 and SB 5574 because these bills violate your right to conscience and threaten your religious freedoms.
  3. COMMENT ON THE BILL: HB 1647   Each bill page has a “Comment on the bill” link you can use to send comments to your legislators.
  4. WATCH THE HEARING LIVE ON TVW.ORG
RIGHTS  TO  RELIGIOUS  OBJECTORS
SB 5552 & HB 1968

Senate Bill 5552 – Accommodating the civil rights of religious objectors to mandatory payments to labor organizations.
Prime Sponsor: Senator Mike Padden, 4th LD
Senate Committee: Commerce & Labor, Rules  

House Bill 1968 – Companion Bill
Prime Sponsor: Representative Matt Shea, 4th LD 
House Committee: Labor

 

SUMMARY: Accommodating the civil rights of religious objectors to mandatory payments to labor organizations. Read the companion bill.

 

STATUS

SB 5552: 2/5/15, passed to Senate Rules Committee for Second Reading.

HB 1968: 2/4/15, First reading, referred to House Labor Committee.

ACTION:

  1. Call 1(800) 562-600   Let ALL your legislators know what your thoughts are concerning SB 5552 & HB 1968 because religious objectors should not be forced to join labor organizations that violate their values and conscience.
TELEMEDICINE  COVERAGE
SB 5175 & HB 1403

Senate Bill 5175 – Regarding Telemedicine.
Prime Sponsors: Senator Randi Becker, 2nd LD
Senate Committees: Health Care, Rules  

House Bill 1403 – Companion Bill
Prime Sponsor: Representative Steve Bergquist, 11th LD
House Committee: Health Care & Wellness, Rules

 

AMENDED* SUMMARY: Telemedicine is generally seen as an advance in health care because it makes it easier for people who live in rural areas to access health care.

*The language in SB 5175 and HB 1403 bills have been modified to not allow webcam chemical abortions. Read the companion bills.

 

STATUS

SB 5175: 2/6/15, passed to Senate Rules for Second Reading (?).
2/5/15, executive action taken in the Senate Committee on Health Care.

HB 1403: 2/5/15, referred to House Rules Committee.
2/3/15, executive action taken in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

 

ACTION:

  1. Call 1(800) 562-6000  Let ALL your legislators know what your thoughts are concerning HB 1403 & SB 5175, regarding telemedicine.
INTERNET  CRIMES  AGAINST  CHILDREN
SB 5215

Senate Bill 5215 – Establishing the Washington Internet crimes against children account. 
Prime Sponsor: Senator Pam Roach, 30th LD
Senate Committee: Senate Law & Justice

SUMMARY: Creates the Washington internet crimes against children account and requires expenditures from the account to be used exclusively by the Washington internet crimes against children task force and its affiliate agencies. Read the bill.

 

STATUS: 2/5/15 – Public hearing held in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice. No further movement, as of 2/9/15.

 

ACTION:

  1. Call 1(800) 562-6000  Let ALL your legislators know what your thoughts are concerning SB 5215.
SEXUAL  ORIENTATION  CHANGE  EFFORT
HB 1972 and SB 5870

House Bill 1972 – Restricting the practice of sexual orientation change efforts. 
Prime Sponsor: Representative Laurie Jinkins, 27th LD
House Committee: Health Care & Wellness

Senate Bill 5870 – Prohibiting the use of aversion therapy in the treatment of minors. 
Prime Sponsor: Senator Marko Liias, 21st LD 
Senate Committee: Health Care

 

SUMMARY: These bills would ban licensed therapists from providing sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) for minors. Under these bills, minors can not receive help from the therapist, even if the minor and the parents of the minor agreed that they wanted it, and it was in the best interest of the minor to get the therapy. Read the bills: SB 5870 & HB 1972.

 

STATUS

HB 1972 – 2/4/15 – Referred to House Health Care & Wellness Committee.

SB 5870 – 2/6/15 – Referred to Senate Committee on Heath Care.

 

ACTION:

  1. Call 1(800) 562-600  Let ALL your legislators know what your thoughts are concerning HB 1972 & SB 5870, .
  2. Remain on standby and be prepared to take further action, including SHOWING UP on short notice in the event that a Senate or House hearing is scheduled for HB 1972 and/or SB 5870.
PARENTAL  NOTIFICATION  FOR  ABORTIONS
SB 5289 & HB 1493

Senate Bill 5289 – Requiring notification to parents or guardians in cases of abortion. 
Prime Sponsor: Senator Mike Padden, 4th LD
Senate Committee: Law & Justice

House Bill 1493 – Establishing parental notification requirements for abortion. 
Prime Sponsor: Representative Matt Shea, 4th LD
House Committee: Health Care & Wellness

 

SUMMARY: Protects minors against their own immaturity by also protecting the constitutional rights of parents to rear and make decisions for their children who are members of their household. Read the bills: SB 5289 & HB 1493.

CONSOLIDATED BILL STATUS: WATCHING

No further movement, as of 2/2/15

EMPLOYER  CONTRACEPTIVE  MANDATE
SB 5026 & HB 1502

Senate Bill 5026 – Employee Reproductive Choice Act
Prime Sponsor: Senator Jamie Pedersen, 43rd LD
Senate Committee: Law & Justice 

House Bill 1502 –  Companion Bill
Prime Sponsor: Representative Laurie Jenkins, 27th LD
House Committee: Judiciary

 SUMMARY: Would require employers in Washington State who the Supreme Court said could not be forced by the federal government to be forced to pay for contraceptives that violate their beliefs, to be forced by the Washington State government to pay for contraceptives that violate their beliefs. Read the companion bill.

PROHIBITS  ‘WRONGFUL  BIRTH’  AWARDS
SB 5747

Senate Bill 5747 – Prohibiting actions for wrongful life and wrongful birth, and expanding the beneficiaries in an action for wrongful death.
Prime Sponsor: Senator Mike Padden, 4th LD
Senate Committee: Senate Law & Justice

SUMMARY: Prohibits a person from maintaining a civil cause of action or from receiving an award of damages for wrongful life or wrongful birth based on the claim that, but for an act or omission of another person, the person would not or should not have been born. Expands the list of beneficiaries in wrongful death actions. Read the bill.

THIRD – PARTY  (GRANDPARENT)  VISITATION
SB 5005

Senate Bill 5005 – Concerning Grandparent Visitation Rights.
Prime Sponsor: Senator Jan Angel, 26th LD

Committee: Senate Law & Justice Committee

SUMMARY: This bill would allow grandparents to petition the courts for visitation of children against the will of a fit parent. Read the bill.

WASHINGTON  STATE  LIFE  AT CONCEPTION  ACT
HB 1687

House Bill 1687 – Declaring that the right to life begins at the moment the individual comes into being. 
Prime Sponsor: Representative Elizabeth Scott, 39th LD
House Committee: Health Care & Wellness

SUMMARY: This bill affirms the right to life, as recognized in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and Washington State, and is thereby vested in each human being beginning at the moment at which an individual comes into being. Read the bill.

Abortion Insurance Mandate Hearing Set for Tuesday

A bill to force every private insurance policy to cover abortion, sterilization, and controversial contraceptives (HB 1647) has been scheduled for a public hearing on Tuesday, February 10th, at 8 am in the House Health Care Committee.

 This bill essentially makes it illegal to buy or sell a private insurance policy that doesn’t cover abortion.

Many people oppose abortion generally. Many more do not want to pay for someone else’s abortion regardless of how they feel about the right to have one.

But this bill ignores the strong differences of opinion on this divisive issue and forces everyone to become a financial partner with the abortion industry.

This bill is primarily about forcing employers to pay for their employees’ abortions.

Proponents of the bill claim that because a woman has the right to an abortion, she should never be in a situation where she wants an abortion but can’t pay for it.  In their mind, forcing employers to do things they believe are immoral is the solution.

If we apply this logic to any other situation in life, it doesn’t pass the straight face test.

I have the right to transportation and rifles, but I do not have the right to force someone else to buy me a car or rifle if I find myself short of cash.

While the bill primarily targets employers, it also requires that every individual or family insurance policy will also be required to pay for abortion regardless of how the individual or family feels about the issue.

Proponents of the bill claim that is “discriminatory” to have some insurance policies that don’t cover abortions while other policies do.

In a sense, they’re right.

It is discriminatory in exactly the same way my order of mahi mahi discriminated against the beef, chicken, and vegetarian options that were also on the menu.

The power to choose is a recognition of each persons’ inherent dignity, but once you call it “discrimination” it gives politicians license to micro-manage.

And the moment you dare point out that it’s the same thing, they’ll tell you you’re hurting their feelings and end the conversation.

Your human dignity ends where my feelings start.

If the leftists in the legislature get their way, we will soon be in a world where a florist must celebrate same-sex weddings and must pay for her employee’s abortions as a condition of being in business.

In their mind, this is all part of ending discrimination.

Seriously.

I bet they would have passed the ball with one-yard to go too.

This bill may not make sense, but in the legislative arena, it isn’t the best ideas that become law, it is the ideas with the most political support.

If you like an idea, your voice has to be louder and clearer than those who oppose it.

The best way to make a statement is to show up at the hearing on Tuesday morning. Call ahead and schedule an appointment with your legislators so you’ll have a chance to meet with them in person. Personal communication is the best communication.

If you can’t make it, call your legislators through thelegislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them to share your thoughts. Then encourage your friends to do the same.

It’s shockingly easy, and if we all do our little part, it makes a big difference for the world we leave behind.

You contribution of $5 or more makes it possible to keep you aware of issues like these.

Conscience Rights Debates in Olympia

The debate over conscience rights is one of the mostly hotly debated issues in America today.

Stories about fire chiefs being fired because of their beliefs about homosexuality and efforts to force businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies often headline the conscience rights debate. But the debate over whether the government can compel someone to do something they prefer not to do is taking place in other arenas as well.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that the Arkansas prison system could not prohibit a Muslim prisoner from growing a beard as he believes he is required to do.

In the Washington State legislature, three different pieces of legislation are dealing with the issue of whether individuals can be compelled to do things that violate their beliefs.

1.  Abortion Insurance Mandate

For the past three years, the abortion industry has been working to require every insurance policy bought and sold in the private market to cover abortion insurance.  This proposal would make it illegal for someone with a moral objection to abortion to purchase for themselves, their family, or their business a policy that will not subsidizing abortion.

Having been defeated for three years in a row, abortion industry advocates came back this year with a bill that is even worse.  SB 5574 and HB 1647 would not only require every policy to subsidize elective abortions and controversial forms of contraception, but would also require coverage for voluntary sterilization as well.

The number of legislators co-sponsoring these bills has declined significantly over previous years.  This could be a reflection of the fact that some legislators are growing tired of justifying their attempts to force people to pay for things they believe are wrong.

However, a public hearing in the House of Representatives on this issue is expected soon.

2. Overturning Hobby Lobby

Last summer, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, ruled that privately held companies could not be forced to pay for contraception coverage that violated their conscience.  The Court said that such a mandate violated the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act because there are ways for the government to make contraception available without violating the freedoms of business owners.

In response, Washington State legislators have introduced SB 5026 and HB 1502 which would make sure the religious freedoms protections recognized by the Supreme Court would not extend to Washington businesses.

The bill would require every Washington State employer to pay for objectionable forms of contraception even if they are willing to provide other forms of contraception.

3.  Accommodating the Rights of Religious Objectors

As you probably know, many jobs in Washington State require union membership. For the privilege of educating children, teachers in Washington are required to pay around $1,000 per year to the teacher’s union.

Teacher’s unions in Washington State support many far left causes that are inconsistent with the values of many teachers. For that reason, the law recognizes the rights of religious objectors to opt out of paying union dues and instead contribute the funds that otherwise would go to the union to a charitable cause.

However, employees attempting to exercise these rights have run into challenges.

First, the law states that the beliefs of a religious objector must be “based on bona fide religious tenets or teachings of a church or religious body of which such public employee is a member.” This language allows unions to force employees to prove that their beliefs are explicitly written in the governing documents of a church they are part of.

Secondly, the law requires the union to agree with the employees choice of charity they would like to contribute to in lieu of paying union dues.  This has led to unnecessarily complicated negotiations when a particular union boss wants to control which charity an employee supports.  One religious objector who testified in support of this legislation yesterday was told the only approved charity was the far left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Senate Bill 5552 strengthens conscience rights and makes it harder for unions to harass employees who disagree with how the union spends money.

First, it allow a religious objector to opt out of membership simply for having a “personally held religious belief” and thereby eliminates the need to prove that it is an official religious tenet of a specific religious organization.

Secondly, it allows the employee to direct their union dues to any non-profit that participates in the Washington state combined fund drive program and thereby eliminate the ability of the union to choose which charity the religious objector supports.

Both changes would further expand conscience rights and make it harder for people to be harassed because of their beliefs.

If you are part of a union and would like to know how to stop supporting causes you disagree with click here.

Each of these bills is currently being debated in the state legislature and each of them will help determine the trajectory of the conscience rights and religious freedom debate in Washington State.

The homosexual lobby, the abortion industry, and union interests are all powerful political forces that each have their own reasons for wanting to restrict your conscience rights.

In addition, their significant campaign contributions have earned them a great deal of political influence despite their strong opposition to individual freedom and conscience rights.

It is up to us to be a counterbalance.

If you have thoughts about any of these issues, contact your legislator through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Remember, freedom is not the status quo. It has been earned at a great price and must be defended with vigilance. Every day, those who want to take away your freedoms are busy in Olympia trying to do so.  The least we can do is make a phone call.

Parental Notification: Why You Should Care & Hearing Information

On Monday, February 2nd at 1:30 PM in the Senate Law and Justice Committee, there will be a hearing on SB 5289 which will require parents to be notified before a minor has an abortion.

The United States is one of only six nations in the world that allow abortion on demand into the third trimester and Washington is one of only thirteen states currently where a minor can get an abortion without her parents awareness.

We are on the fringe of the fringe.

Abortion is the only procedure a minor can get without her parent’s consent, much less notification. In Washington State, a minor cannot get a tattoo or go to a sunbed even with parental permission. She cannot go to an R rated movie or get an aspirin from the school nurse without parental permission.

However, she can get an abortion without their awareness.

There are a couple problems with the lack of parental notification. First, it isolates girls from their parents in moments when they most need parental involvement.

Second, the lack of parental notification makes it possible for abortion providers like Planned Parenthood to assist in the sex trafficking of minors, as documented here, here, and here.

Since medical providers are not obligated to notify parents when a minor indicates she wants an abortion, they are only required to report if a rape has occurred. In the case of a pregnant minor, that means the father is more than 5 years older than the mother.

Unfortunately, the mandatory reporting requirement for rape is easily avoided by serial abusers.

Under the threat of abuse, pimps teach the girls they abuse to lie about the age of the father and organizations like Planned Parenthood tell clients to say as little as possible so they can maintain plausible deniability. As a result, those who claim to be –and should be– looking out for the best interest of these girls are in reality assisting in the abuse of children. Our lack of parental notification makes it possible.

Opponents of the bill claim that parental notification endangers girls whose parents might become abusive when they learn their daughter is pregnant. They say the girl should decide what her parents know.

They assume that in crisis you can trust the judgment of the typical pregnant 15-year old better than the judgment of the typical parent. While it is understandable why a girl would not want to tell her parents, it is equally understandable why it would be good for her parents to know despite the child’s reservations.

Acknowledging that there are too many abusive parents in the world, it is an insult to every parent in Washington that the abortion industry and their allies in the legislature act as though they have a duty to protect our daughters from us.

By requiring parental notification, this bill acknowledges that it is generally a good thing for parents to know what is going on with their children. However, it also contains a judicial bypass provision which would allow a judge to waive the parental notification requirement in the minority of cases in which a child actually could be in danger. It protects those truly at risk without assuming every parent is a danger. That’s what rational public policy should do.

The possibility that parents might respond poorly to news that their daughter is pregnant is an argument for keeping parents out of every decision. After all, parents might also respond poorly to news that their child has committed a crime or received bad grades in school. But for good reason, we still tell them.

The argument that we should favor keeping parents in the dark in order to protect the children is incoherent. That incoherence exposes the fact that the more likely explanation has much more to do with money the abortion industry makes off of children which eventually finds its way to political campaigns.

Parental notification is not an issue about abortion. It is an issue about parental rights and the well-being of our daughters. It is a disagreement between politicians who pretend they care more about our children than we do and the parents who know better.

Please attend the hearing on Monday at 1:30 PM in Hearing Room 4 of the John A. Cherberg building on the capitol campus. The hearing room is certain to be full, so show up early. Even if you do not wish to testify, your presence communicates the injustice of this issue to legislators who have been dragging their heels for years on this issue. Please bring friends as well and call ahead to schedule meetings with your legislators in person to share your thoughts on this issue.

If you cannot attend the hearing, please call your legislators directly or through the legislative hotline at1-800-562-6000. You can also email them by clicking here.

Thank you for rejecting passivity and standing for what is just.

Senators Seek to Overturn Hobby Lobby Decision

Last year, one of the biggest developments in the national debate over conscience rights was the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) contained a mandate requiring employers to cover twenty specific types of birth control in the insurance plans they purchased for their employees.

Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, objected to four of the twenty forms of birth control on the grounds that they could cause an abortion. As a result, they filed a lawsuit claiming that the mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Supreme Court agreed with them in a 5-4 decision.

In response, a group of State Senators have introduced the Employee Reproductive Choice Act (SB 5026). The bill creates a state version of the mandate which the Supreme Court said could not be imposed by the federal government.

This bill would force every business in Washington to cover twenty specific forms of contraception in the insurance policies, including some that cause abortion.

It was sponsored by every Democrat Senator except Senators Hargrove and Sheldon. (For the past two years, Tim Sheldon has been caucusing with the Republicans).

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the state likely has the authority to create such a mandate.  Because Washington State does not have a RFRA, and the federal RFRA does not apply to state law, the federal protections are greater than what appear to exist at the state level.

While eighteen states have adopted a state version of RFRA that extends the higher level of protection state law as well, Washington State is not one of them.

Of course, the fact that Washington State could impose such a mandate does not mean that they should.

For the past three years, the Washington State House passed an Abortion Insurance Mandate requiring every private insurance policy to cover abortion. Each year the bill died in the Senate. Proponents of that mandate claimed it was necessary to ensure that women were not denied access to abortion because her employer’s unwillingness to pay for abortion insurance. However, in three years of debate, no one testified that an abortion had ever been denied or even delayed for lack of insurance.

At least hundreds of women communicated the fact that they wanted choice in the kind of insurance they purchased.

Arguments in support of this new mandate are equally tenuous.

The bill states that employers must be forced to pay for abortion inducing drugs because, “women with reliable access to contraceptive services have forty percent higher earnings than those who lack such access, and access to contraception can significantly increase a woman’s earning power and narrow the gender pay gap.”

All this time I’ve been telling my daughters that kindness, hard work, and good choices are going to make them successful in life. Maybe there really is a pill for that.

Fortunately, the prospects for this bill in the Senate do not appear to be strong. It has been assigned to the Senate Law & Justice committee which is chaired by Senator Mike Padden, who is not thought to be supportive of the proposal. A House companion bill was introduced yesterday (HB 1502).

Regardless of these bills’ success this year, this is yet another assault on conscience rights and a reminder of the continued need for vigilance.

The left in Washington State is working hard to create a work environment in which the willingness to participate in same-sex ceremonies and pay for abortion are preconditions to being in business.

They’re effectively creating the type of theocracy they claim to despise.

In this theocracy, government is god, the gay wedding is the worship service, and abortion is the sacrament. Provided you attend services and partake of the sacrament as often as god requires, you are welcome to participate in the marketplace. If not, they’ll cast you out until you repent.

But it’s for your own good.

To share your thoughts about this or any bill, you are encouraged to call your legislators through the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 or email them by clicking here.

Telemedicine Bill Introduced This Morning

This morning, a telemedicine bill (SB 5175) was introduced into the Senate. A similar bill was introduced last year that would have allowed payment for medical services done remotely. This is generally seen as an advance in health care because it makes it easier for people who live in rural areas to access health care.  While SB 5175 does not normally fall under our four core issues (life, marriage, parental rights, and religious freedom), one little detail caught our attention: webcam abortions.

Reasons for concern with webcam abortions:

  • Webcam abortions would give doctors the ability to prescribe more chemical abortions with fewer qualified staff
  • Washington State does not require parental notification for abortion, so potentially, young girls could be prescribed a chemical abortion without the parent’s knowledge
  • There is the possibility that young girls could be hundreds of miles away from the medical professional who prescribed the chemical abortion

This is simply dangerous.

Although suggestions were made to remove sections which included webcam abortions in last year’s bill, no changes were made during the session. Thankfully, the bill died in the Senate. However, the section concerning webcam abortions seem to still be the same as last year’s bill.

While last year’s bill was stopped in the Senate, it has come back this session and will be on our “bills to watch list.” We will continue to keep you updated on this bill and other in our Legislative Center.