Truth and Consciences
It was December 3, 2009 in the Senate Health Committee when President Obama's attack on conscience began. Pro-abortion Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) added an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) that mandated all health plans cover "preventive services for women." It was from this amendment that President Obama's Health and Human Services interpreted the bill to mean that all employers, with very few exceptions, must cover sterilizations, abortion drugs and contraception--regardless of the employers' or employees' conscience objections.
By the time December rolls around later this year, employers with consciences, like the retail chain Hobby Lobby, will face millions of dollars in fines from the administration for their refusal to violate their consciences. Hobby Lobby has over 514 stores in 41 states that employ over 13,000 men and women, all potential victims of President Obama's war on religious freedom.
The only way to protect religious freedom and save these and countless other jobs is to pass legislation that protects the conscience rights of every American, from business owners to nurses in hospitals. What is necessary is to put protective language in what is called "must pass legislation" and the only such legislation is the upcoming measure that will fund the government, called the Continuing Resolution, which will most likely face a vote on March 1.
For those in Congress who are serious about protecting the religious liberty of all Americans, this is the opportunity to make it happen. Catholic Archbishop William Lori, head of the U.S. Catholic Church's Ad Hoc committee on Religious Liberty, accurately points out appropriations and funding bills have been used in the past to ensure conscience protections and such protections were instituted by President Bill Clinton and have enjoyed bipartisan support since then.
Please contact your member of Congress and urge him or her to defend religious freedom by supporting conscience protection language in the Continuing Resolution.
Planned Parenthood Badgers Wisconsin for Funding
This week Planned Parenthood announced that it is closing four facilities (out of 27) in Wisconsin. The timing--on the eve of the release of the state's bi-annual budget--is not coincidental. Two years ago Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proposed savings of more than $1 billion to balance the state's budget, and part of that reform included redirecting $2 million a year from abortion providers. Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin had been receiving over $1 million a year (coincidently freeing up other funds they used to try to recall the Wisconsin governor!) and complained bitterly.
That year saw a lot of over-wrought pro-abortion rhetoric. In our nation's capital, Wisconsin's Rep. Gwen Moore distastefully warned that cutting federal abortion subsidies would lead to poor children growing up "eating Ramen noodles" and "mayonnaise sandwiches."
So it's not too surprising that, with Gov. Walker's second budget proposal coming out tomorrow, there is once again lots of angry posturing over "defunding" women's health programs. The only problem is, it's just not accurate. The 2011 budget merely redirected tax dollars to community clinics that don't perform or refer for abortions. That's not stopping Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin from fighting to turn the spigot back on, and pro-life groups are pushing back. Our friends at Wisconsin Family Action recently met with legislators to discuss steering more than $150,000 in additional state and federal funding away from the world's largest abortion provider. More and more pro-life Governors are finding that cutting funds to the abortion giant Planned Parenthood creates a "twofer"--they can save BOTH lives and money!
FRC Mentioned on the Floor of the House and Senate
If you were watching C-SPAN last week, you might have heard a familiar name. Family Research Council was mentioned on both the House and Senate floors during debates over two very different pieces of legislation. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) was the first to invoke FRC, when he successfully rallied his colleagues around a new disaster bill that would extend the same treatment to churches as other nonprofits, by pointing to our support.
In the other chamber, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) wasn't nearly as complimentary, but we don't mind. He called FRC out for opposing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which we did on principle--and have absolutely no regrets about. Unfortunately, the measure passed the Senate, but we'll continue to work with House leaders to weed out the waste and strip out special rights based on a person's sexual behavior.
** On today's edition of "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) joins us for a follow up on the Boy Scouts and to discuss his proposed "Right to Refuse" amendment which would prevent the federal government from forcing Americans to buy good and services. Julaine Appling, President of Wisconsin Family Council, also will join us to talk about the positive effect of Wisconsin defunding Planned Parenthood and the upcoming budget process. Click over to TonyPerkins.com to listen.
*** Religious liberty in America has long been a cherished freedom. In recent decades, reaction to displaying that religion in the public sphere has grown increasingly hostile. What is being done about this slow and methodical attack on our First Freedom? Come hear from those who have battled on the front lines of this issue and have sought to protect the liberty our forefathers handed down. Join FRC for an informative and important discussion with Kellie Fiedorek, Ken Klukowski, and Adele Keim at noon (ET) tomorrow, Wednesday, February 20 at FRC headquarters (801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C.). To watch the event either in-person or via live webcast, click here.