Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

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Robert George reflects on Trump admin's latest religious liberty moves

Catholic News Agency

October 11, 2017

"Two sets of announcements by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services issued Friday both promise to broaden religious freedom protections in the United States. The first announcement, by the HHS department, broadens the religious freedom exemptions to the department’s contraception mandate, which has been facing federal lawsuits from conscientious objectors since its introduction in 2011. The second announcement was a memo issued by the Department of Justice, in which Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained 20 legal principles all government agencies should consider when dealing with religious freedom concerns. Neither announcement will automatically resolve religious freedom cases currently within the court system.  In an Oct. 6 interview with CNA, Robert George, a professor of constitutional law at Princeton University and visiting professor at Harvard University, explained the implications of these two announcements for religious freedom supporters throughout the country. "


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A Win for Freedom of Conscience

National Review commentary by the Editors

October 11, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced new reforms that would broaden conscience exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, expanding protections beyond small and closely held businesses to publicly traded companies and other employers as well as extending protections not only to those with religious objections but to those with moral objections that are not specifically religious in nature. This is an excellent development: The overbearing contraception mandate was an assault not only on religious liberty but on the legal standing of private conscience itself. (The mandate included types of contraception that, as even the Obama administration’s FDA acknowledged, might instead operate post-conception to prevent implantation and thus kill the early embryo.)"

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Americans Still Wait for Trump to Protect Health-Care Conscience Rights

National Review commentary by Melanie Israel and Elizabeth Slattery

September 29, 2017

"The legislation creating Obamacare left lots of policy “details” to the discretion of the executive branch. And so the Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama decided to require insurance plans to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization. Commonly referred to as the “HHS mandate” or “contraception mandate,” that requirement conflicts with the beliefs of many employers, individuals, and religious organizations regarding the protection of unborn human life. They regard it as an intolerable burden. The Supreme Court has provided relief to closely held businesses and to certain religious institutions. But as long as the mandate is in place, many individuals and organizations still face a disturbing choice: Either violate their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs or pay steep fines and, perhaps, forgo offering or obtaining health insurance altogether. When President Trump took office, these people and those who sympathize with them hoped that he would make religious liberty great again. "

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The HHS contraception mandate is hurting our religious beliefs

The Hill commentary by Dr. Alveda King and Fr. Frank Pavone

August 11, 2017

This mandate, imposed on us and all Americans by the Obama administration, would force virtually every employer to include coverage for abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives in health insurance policies, despite the objecting employers' sincerely held religious beliefs. We hold that the mandate is illegal, because believers should never be forced to choose between following their faith and following the law. President Trump, his administration and his party all agree with us, and we are grateful to them for that. Why then, some have asked, is it taking so long for the mandate to go away, despite the president's words and actions? As we've seen repeatedly, the left is ready and willing to sue the Trump administration for every step it takes, and has already threatened to sue if the HHS mandate is changed. The administration, therefore, is working hard to make sure that in changing this mandate, every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed so that when its actions are challenged in court, the administration will prevail and change can go into effect right away instead of being tied up in additional years of court battles.

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Why is HHS contraception order still standing? Trump said it 'would soon be over'

The Hill commentary by Cardinal Daniel N. Dinardo

August 4, 2017

"After meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office on May 4, I sat in the Rose Garden and listened as the president promised the Little Sisters of the Poor that their “long ordeal” with the government’s contraceptive mandate “would soon be over.” Yet here we are, nearly three months later, and the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate still stands. For four years, the Little Sisters and many other faith-based nonprofit groups have patiently asked the government to do the right thing and let them serve the poor. In a pluralistic society like ours, people should be free to serve the common good without compromising their moral or religious convictions. The HHS mandate, requiring employers to cover contraceptive and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, has tested this country’s commitment to a healthy pluralism."

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BREAKING: Charlie Gard's parents end legal fight to save baby's life

LifeSite News

July 24, 2017

"Charlie Gard’s parents are ending their legal fight to give their baby a chance at life.  After their five-month legal battle with London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital and the European court system, Chris Gard and Connie Yates say it is now “too late” for any experimental treatment to help their 11-month-old recover."

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Critically ill baby Charlie Gard's parents back in court

ABC News

July 21, 2017

A British judge has said the parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard can present new evidence at upcoming hearings to determine his fate.  Judge Nicholas Francis, who has overseen the latest round of hearings in the case at London's High Court, said Friday that parents Chris Gard and Connie Yates could present evidence in full-day hearings early next week.  He said the evidence must be new and relevant to the case.

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Doctors Across The World Are Fighting To Treat Charlie Gard. Will The UK Let Them?

The Federalist commentary by Arina Grossu

July 12, 2017

"Why has the case of British 11-month-old baby Charlie Gard struck an international nerve? At its core, this controversy is about state infringement on parental rights. The question is, whose child is Charlie: his parents’ or the state’s? Why is the hospital holding him hostage and by what authority can it override his parents’ wish to pursue therapy that could help Charlie?"

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Needed pro-life protections in potential healthcare legislation

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

July 10, 2017

We believe any healthcare legislation considered by the Congress must do three things: redirect government funds from Planned Parenthood, ensure that no taxpayer funding is used for abortion services, and protect the consciences of medical professionals who may be otherwise required to act against their moral convictions in the course of their jobs. Pro-life healthcare professionals should have the right to administer care in accordance with their consciences. No healthcare worker should be forced to participate in abortions or other medical procedures that conflict with their religiously informed conscience. To protect this right, the Conscience Protection Act would give healthcare professionals the ability to defend themselves in court when states infringe their conscience rights, as is already happening in California and New York.

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Whose baby is Charlie Gard anyway?

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

July 4, 2017

This is where Charlie Gard's case is breaking new and even more authoritarian ground. Not only are doctors and judges forcing Charlie off life-support; they are also declaring that their ethics rule over Charlie's life, even if the parents-Chris and Connie Gard-find alternative care. The refusal to allow Charlie's parents to remove their baby boy from the hospital is an act of bioethical aggression that will extend futile-care controversies, creating a duty to die at the time and place of doctors' choosing. And that raises a crucial liberty question: Whose baby is Charlie Gard? His parents'? Or are sick babies-and others facing futile-care impositions-ultimately owned by the hospital and the state?

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More people are getting 'sex change' surgeries than ever before ... but it's not what you think


May 25, 2017

The Christian Medical Association, a national organization of Christian healthcare professionals, currently has a case before the circuit court in Texas concerning the HHS transgender mandate, which essentially coerces medical professionals to provide services that they deem to be not in their patients' best interest. Dr. David Stevens, the association's CEO, is concerned about the trend toward increased medical interventions for gender dysphoric youth. Stevens told LifeSiteNews that kids "lack the cognitive ability to give informed consent to procedures like this." Whether they be hormone treatments or surgical procedures, these interventions have lifelong ramifications. "Among individuals who identify as transgender, use cross-sex hormones, and undergo sex reassignment surgery, there is well-documented increased incidence of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors. Eighty to 85 percent of the time, these kids revert to their biological sex after they go through puberty."

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Woman Who Identifies as Man Sues Catholic Hospital for Disallowing Uterus Removal at Facility

Christian News Network

April 24, 2017

A California woman who identifies as a man has filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital and its parent company for prohibiting her surgeon from performing a sex change-related hysterectomy at the facility because of the organization's religious convictions. Mercy San Juan President Brian Ivie informed Minton's surgeon, Lindsey Dawson-who regularly performs hysterectomies at the facility-that perhaps she could instead obtain admitting privileges at nearby Methodist Hospital, which is still a part of the network, but non-Catholic. "I don't blame the staff," said Dawson. "I don't blame the administrators. I blame the [Roman Catholic] doctrines." As previously reported, last summer, the Obama administration released guidelines prohibiting sex discrimination in federally-funded hospitals under the threat of losing funding. Five states, as well as the Christian Medical Association and the Roman Catholic Franciscan Alliance, quickly filed suit out of their belief that the government was wrongly forcing them to perform sex change-related procedures violative of the tenets of their faith. Judge Reed O'Connor sided with the plaintiffs in the case, citing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and concluding that "[p]laintiffs will be forced to either violate their religious beliefs or maintain their current policies which seem to be in direct conflict with the rule and risk the severe consequences of enforcement."

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Federal Judge: Regulation Suppressing Religious Diversity of Health Providers is Illegal

IRFA News commentary by Stanley Carlson-Thies

January 19, 2017

The court reminded the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the issuer of the regulations, that when Congress, as in the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), prohibits "sex" discrimination, that's what it is prohibiting, not also discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" and "termination of pregnancy." Congress can expand nondiscrimination requirements, but the regulators cannot just do the same thing on their own. ...Part of the judge's reasoning in stopping the regulation is that it would essentially prohibit a doctor from refusing to perform certain procedures even though the doctor is sure that the procedure will harm, rather than help, the patient-and despite the fact that the federal government itself is doubtful that transition procedures are always positive.

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Federal Court Blocks Transgender Mandate

Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission newsletter

January 6, 2017

Had the rule gone into effect, Christian doctors could have lost their jobs or been sued for discrimination for refusing to perform gender transition procedures on children. The mandate would have also required most private health insurance policies to cover transition procedures for minors. The injunction is thus a significant step in protecting children, religious liberty, and rights of conscience for healthcare workers. In a comment about this lawsuit last October, ERLC president Russell Moore told Baptist Press, "Though confusion over gender and sexual identity is real and should be met with compassion, it would be a travesty for the federal government to steamroll consciences in the name of ideology."

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5 quick ways a new HHS secretary could change health policy

Washington Post

December 5, 2016

Conscience protections: At the very end of the George W. Bush administration, HHS issued rules intended to clarify that health-care professionals did not have to participate in performing abortions, sterilizations or other procedures that violated a “religious belief or moral conviction.” The Obama administration revised the rules dramatically, much to the continuing consternation of conservatives. They are among the few health-related items included on the president-elect’s website, which says, “The Administration will act to protect individual conscience in health care.” Many expect the rules to be reinstituted in their original form.

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Three steps to landing a job in the new administration

Freedom2Care blog post by Jonathan Imbody

November 30, 2016

With the election of 2016 now behind us, we the people now transition to the task of governing ourselves-not only through the leaders we have chosen, but also directly, through government service. With a new administration that has voiced support for pro-life protections and religious freedom, you have an opportunity to help realize those goals by serving in the United States government. Months before the Nov. 8 election, we began working with key contacts in Washington, DC to begin identifying well-qualified, principled health professionals to serve in a 2017 administration. Now that the presidential transition team has kicked into overdrive, we are stepping up efforts to provide names and CVs of individuals willing to consider federal service.

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Price Tagged for HHS Post

Washington Update commentary by Tony Perkins

November 29, 2016

As the New York Times put it, "If [Trump] wanted a cabinet secretary who could help him dismantle and replace President Obama's health care law, he could not have found anyone more prepared than Representative Tom Price..." For six years, the Georgia Chairman of the House Budget Committee has been leading the charge to topple President Obama's signature failure -- and as the head of the agency in charge of overseeing health care, he'll be in the perfect place to see that goal through to completion. And based on today's polling, he'll have plenty of grassroots support when he does. A whopping eight in 10 Americans told Gallup this month that they'd like to see the law either fully repealed or significantly changed. Only 14 percent approve of the "Affordable" Care Act that continues to crush jobs, medical choices, family budgets, freedom, and conscience. "There is much work to be done to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors," Price told reporters, "that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness; and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit."

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Lawsuit Challenges Federal Regulation Forcing Doctors to Provide Gender Transition Treatment for Children

CNS News

November 14, 2016

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state of North Dakota and health providers challenging a federal regulation that would force doctors and others to perform gender transition procedures on children even if it's believed these procedures could harm a child. "No doctor should be forced to perform a procedure that he or she believes will harm a child," said Lori Windham, senior counsel of the fund. "Decisions on a child's medical treatment should be between families and their doctors, not dictated by politicians and government bureaucrats."

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Donald Trump Provides Details of Health Care Policies

US News & World Report

November 11, 2016

The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump has released an outline of his health care proposals with details of his intention to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. The proposals on the website have been previously articulated by Republicans, and the posts included other conservative policies on issues like abortion. The post said new administration will "protect individual conscience in health care" and "protect innocent human life from conception to natural death, including the most defenseless and those Americans with disabilities." Andrew Bremberg, who worked at the Department of Health and Human Services under former President George W. Bush, will be leading the transition effort for the agency under Trump's administration. (HHS job seekers: Three steps to landing a job in the new administration)

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Returning Power to the Patient: A 10-Point Prescription

Freedom2Care blog post by Jonathan Imbody

November 1, 2016

The following ten steps outline in broad strokes an approach that a new administration and Congress can take to begin to build a healthcare system driven by proven medical and economic principles.... 7. Enforce the bipartisan conscience laws that protect some of our best doctors from discrimination and job loss simply because they follow the Hippocratic oath and won't participate in abortions, or because they base their decisions about controversial treatments on medical evidence and not government social policy.

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Legal analysis: Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare)

Holland & Knight commentary by Nathan Adams IV and Erica Gooden

October 26, 2016

But many religious institutions have expressed concern that Section 1557 infringes upon the religious and moral convictions of healthcare providers, insurers and other stakeholders. Section 1557 expands the definition of "sex discrimination" by defining discrimination "on the basis of sex" to include "discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy, or recovery therefrom, childbirth or related medical conditions, sex stereotyping, and gender identity." Under Section 1557, "gender identity" is defined as "an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither, or a combination of male and female, and which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth." Moreover, this prohibition against discrimination "on the basis of sex" also prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender expression and transgender status.

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Catholic health workers face crisis of conscience

Catholic Register

October 22, 2016

(Canada) Given the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario policy that forces doctors to provide an "effective referral" for any recognized, legal medical procedure or treatment, even in those cases where the doctor objects on moral or religious grounds, there is great fear among members of the Doctors' Guild they will be forced to refer for assisted suicide. The Coalition for HealthCARE and Conscience is taking the College of Physicians' and Surgeons of Ontario (CSPO) to court over its "Professional obligations and human rights" policy. The policy states, "Where physicians are unwilling to provide certain elements of care for reasons of conscience or religion, an effective referral to another health-care provider must be provided to the patient. An effective referral means a referral made in good faith, to a non-objecting, available, and accessible physician." This would apply to requests for medically assisted suicide. The demand isn’t often prompted by untreatable, crippling pain, said Euthanasia Prevention Coalition executive director and international chair Alex Schadenberg. “Some people are asking for voluntary euthanasia and it has nothing to do with palliative care. It has to do with their attitudes towards autonomy or radical control and their fear of suffering,” he said.

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Religious freedom and healthcare -- what our candidates should know

The Hill commentary by Jonathan Imbody

October 17, 2016

I've enjoyed the rare opportunity to advise both presidential campaigns this election season, and in each instance I have highlighted the link between First Amendment freedoms and patient access to healthcare. Freedom of faith, conscience and speech in healthcare has come under fire domestically and internationally in recent years, as politicians pander to special interest groups by mandating ideological conformity on issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Regardless of one's stance on controversial social issues, sound practical considerations and compassion for needy patients should quell cries to coerce health professionals - particularly those professionals motivated by their faith - into ideological conformity.

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Representatives protest Obamacare transgender reg

US House of Representatives letter

October 6, 2016

First, this rule for the first time in history requires doctors to perform gender transition procedures or treatments on patients including children, even if the doctor believes the procedures could be harmful. Second, HHS's own experts have acknowledged that the clinical literature is "inconclusive " on whether gender reassignment surgery improves health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with gender dysphoria, and that some studies have "reported harms." Third, in other contexts where the government requires services related to gender transition procedures, the government has clearly protected the medical judgment and moral or religious beliefs of healthcare professionals. Fourth, the number of doctors and healthcare providers covered by this rule is breathtaking. By HHS's own estimation, this rule will "likely cover almost all licensed physicians," which you estimate as totaling over 900,000. Finally, the rule purports to prohibit discrimination on the basis of "termination of pregnancy ."

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Bioethicists Say Doctors Should be Forced to Do Abortions and If They Quit, "So Be It"

LifeSite News

September 22, 2016

Abortion and euthanasia should not be matters of choice for doctors, two leading Canadian and British bioethicists argued in a new article in the journal "Bioethics." Professors Udo Schuklenk and Julian Savulescu believe that their governments should stop protecting doctors' conscious rights and force them to perform or at least refer patients for abortions, euthanasia and other practices that doctors object to on moral grounds, the National Post reports. The radical proposal has sparked some outrage in the medical community. Larry Worthen, of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, pointed out how the proposal would be an extreme violation of doctors' rights. "In every jurisdiction in the world, conscientious objection is recognized in some form," Worthen told the National Post. "The only governments in the history of humanity that have stripped away the conscience rights in this way are totalitarian governments."

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Acts of Faith Study: Religion contributes more to the U.S. economy than Facebook, Google and Apple combined

Washington Post

September 15, 2016

The article in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion said that the annual revenues of faith-based enterprises - not just churches but hospitals, schools, charities and even gospel musicians and halal food makers - is more than $378 billion a year. And that's not counting the annual shopping bonanza motivated by Christmas. Georgetown University's Brian Grim and the Newseum's Melissa Grim - in a study sponsored by an organization called Faith Counts, which promotes the value of religion - produced a 31-page breakdown of all the ways religion contributes to the U.S. economy. The largest chunk of that $378 billion tally comes from faith-based health-care systems. Religious groups run many of the hospitals in the United States; Catholic health systems alone reportedly account for 1 in 6 hospital beds in the country.

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Trampling on health care providers' consciences

Religion News Service commentary by Charles Camosy

September 6, 2016

A. Imagine you are a Christian physician in late first-century, pagan Rome when a patient comes to you with his just-born child who, because she is a girl, he wants you to kill by giving her hemlock. B. Imagine you are a Catholic physician living in Nazi Germany working in the psych ward of a Catholic hospital when a patient who initially asked you to admit his mentally ill daughter now asks you to kill her so she is no longer a drain on the Reich's resources. You cannot participate in either act, of course, without violating a fundamental part of who you are. But signatories of the Geneva statement would insist you either assist the patient in killing his child or refer your patient "to another practitioner who is willing" to help kill his child.

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Why a Nurse and a Pastor Object to Being Forced to Help Abort Babies

Daily Signal by Leah Jessen

September 4, 2016

A pastor and a nurse want Congress to pass legislation that would allow Americans the freedom to opt out of the abortion process. Chris Lewis, lead pastor of Foothill Church in Glendora, California, says his congregation doesn't want to be coerced into covering abortions on employee health insurance plans. Lewis spoke on Capitol Hill at a House forum in July on conscience rights, urging Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act. Among about eight others who spoke was a nurse of 26 years, Fe Esperanza Racpan Vinoya. "I became a nurse to help people, but not to do harm," Vinoya said. In 2014, the state of California issued an order requiring all health insurance plans to cover abortion, without a religious exemption.

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Texas and four other states file another lawsuit over Obama transgender rules

Dallas Morning News

August 23, 2016

Texas and four other Republican-led states filed another lawsuit Tuesday seeking to roll back the Obama administration's efforts to strengthen transgender rights, saying new federal nondiscrimination health rules could force doctors to act contrary to their medical judgment or religious beliefs. Joining Texas in the lawsuit are Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska and Kansas, along with the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Franciscan Alliance, an Indiana-based network of religious hospitals. "It discards independent medical judgment and a physician's duty to his or her patient's permanent well-being and replaces them with rigid commands," the lawsuit states.

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Catholic Hospitals Should Not Have to Sterilize Patients

National Review commentary by Alexandra Desanctis

August 19, 2016

But it establishes a dangerous precedent to pressure those with conscientious objections to perform what they believe are grossly immoral acts. In fact, the day may come when those on the left appreciate the protections that our Constitution, and our civil society, afford to conscience. They would do well to recognize the value of these protections while they can.

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USCCB, others oppose HHS gender-bender proposed rule

Official comment

August 12, 2016

The proposed regulations would forbid discrimination on the bases of "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." In these comments, we identify and discuss four problems relating to this prohibition. The first concerns the statutory authority under which CMS claims to be promulgating the regulations. The second concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could interfere with a hospital's professional judgment about what procedures or services are ethical, medically appropriate, or in a patient's best interest. The third concerns interpretations of the proposed prohibition that could compromise the health, safety, or privacy of other patients. The fourth concerns the right of religiously affiliated hospitals to carry out their mission free from government coercion to violate their religious beliefs, a right safeguarded, sometimes with reference to particular procedures and sometimes in more general terms, in federal law. Download file 1608 USCCB et al comment CMS gender bender rule.pdf 

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Administration: Single-Payer System Stops Religious Freedom Challenges to Abortifacient Mandate

CNS News commentary by Terence Jeffrey

July 27, 2016

In their argument to the court, the Justice Department lawyers had suggested another vision for stopping cases challenging government health insurance mandates on religious grounds. "It also follows that there would be no viable RFRA challenge if Congress had adopted a single-payer system in which the government provided health coverage including preventive services to all Americans and required all Americans to pay premiums to pay for that coverage," the Justice Department lawyers told the court. "The fact that Congress chose to accomplish the same goal through the less-intrusive means of regulating the existing system of private health insurance provides no sound basis for reaching a different conclusion: The interests in universal participation in a comprehensive system are the same." In other words: When government takes complete control of the health care system, there will be no room for religious liberty.

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Medical Groups Sue Over Vermont Requirement to Counsel Patients on Assisted Suicide

Christian News

July 23, 2016

wo medical groups have filed a federal lawsuit to challenge language in the Vermont's assisted suicide law that they believe requires physicians to counsel patients about ending their lives. The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and Tennessee-based Christian Medical Association were represented in the suit on Tuesday, along with several doctors in the state who are concerned about how the government interprets the "Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act," also known as Act 39. "The government shouldn't be telling health care professionals that they must violate their medical ethics in order to practice medicine," Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Steven Aden said in a statement announcing the suit. "These doctors and other health care workers deeply believe that suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves. The state has no authority to order them to act contrary to that sincere and time-honored conviction."

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Religious, pro-life conscience unwelcome in healthcare

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

July 22, 2016

Healthcare is quickly becoming about much more than the provision and reception of medical treatment. To a disturbing degree, healthcare public policy is becoming a means of imposing a secularist, anti-sanctity-of-life ideology on all of society. The ACLU is suing to prevent Catholic hospitals that follow Church teaching from receiving federal funds. Most recently, in Vermont, Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a lawsuit to try to prevent state authorities from forcing doctors to counsel their terminally ill patients about assisted suicide (which is legal in the state) even if they consider it a profound moral wrong to participate in doctor-prescribed death. This is the message being sent by the secularist attempt to stifle medical conscience: Sanctity of life has no place in healthcare.

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Patients, health care providers support conscience protections

The Hill commentary by Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie

July 21, 2016

Physicians, nurses, and other health care workers throughout the US are glad to know that the erosion of their rights is being taken seriously with the passage of the Conscience Protection Act.  Their patients are also glad, as seen in a new Marist poll that shows a strong majority of Americans support conscience protections for their doctors and providers. A recent declaration by the HHS that California’s department of Managed Health Care can continue forcing all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortion, including late-term abortions, gave new impetus for passage of the law. This is a flagrant violation of the Weldon Amendment which was designed to protect medical workers, hospitals, and insurers who object to abortion from discrimination and coercion.  In a recent forum on Capitol Hill, nurses described being forced to assist in gruesome late-term abortions or risk losing their jobs, and pastors from churches in California expressed their fear of having to purchase health insurance for their employees that pays for abortion.

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Federal Government Is Ignoring Pro-Life Consciences

The Federalist commentary by Ramona Tausz

July 12, 2016

"They were well-aware that as a faithful Catholic, I could not participate in the killing," she said. "Yet they threatened my job, and my nursing license, if I did not take part in the murder of the baby." DeCarlo said her nurse's duties, which included counting the body parts afterward, left her feeling "violated," but that she faced further discrimination when told she could not take her case to court. "The courts told me that even though the hospital broke the law, I had no right to have my day in court," DeCarlo said. "The health care Conscience Rights Act will change this. It will let doctors and nurses go to court if they are illegally coerced in assisting abortions."

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New Obama administration rule will fuel prosecution of health professionals who follow biology over ideology

Freedom2Care blog by Jonathan Imbody

June 23, 2016

If you as a health professional or your healthcare institution stick to the scientific view of male and female as biologically determined, the Obama administration and lawyers around the country now have a new weapon with which to stick it to you. Any health professional or institution that receives federal (HHS) funding and treats or counsels transsexual patients, prescribes hormone therapy, performs procedures related to sexuality or has a gender-specific bathroom, changing facility or shower area will suddenly encounter sweeping new dictates designed to enforce a non-biological, ideological view of human sexuality. Action Opportunity: If you as a health professional and/or your healthcare institution have been or may be affected by these new regulations, please use the Freedom2Care form to let us know.

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HHS says California can require that all health plans cover elective abortions

Catholic News Service

June 22, 2016

A federal agency has determined that California can continue to demand that all health plans under the jurisdiction of the state's Department of Managed Health Care -- "even those purchased by churches and other religious organizations" -- cover elective abortions for any reason. "It is shocking that HHS has allowed the state of California to force all employers -- even churches -- to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans," said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. The cardinal and archbishop wrote a letter in March to House members urging that they vote for the measure, and in April a group of 26 organizations sent a letter to lawmakers stating their support. Besides the USCCB, signers of the letter included the Christian Medical Association and Catholic Medical Association; the National Council of Catholic Women; the March for Life Education and Defense Fund; the National Association of Evangelicals; the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; the Knights of Columbus; National Right to Life; and several associations of physicians and nurses.

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New Rule Requires Doctors To Treat Trans Patients As Their Pretend Sex

The Federalist commentary by Maria Servold

June 22, 2016

Doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies may soon face lawsuits for treating male and female patients according to their biological sex, thanks to a health care rule finalized in May as part of the Affordable Care Act. On the same day President Barack Obama announced his controversial transgender school bathroom policy last month, a somewhat more sinister mandate was finalized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) with consequences for health care providers, insurance companies, and American taxpayers. The regulations also threaten the freedom and independence of health care professionals who "believe maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases," the Heritage report states. People with religious beliefs that contradict this regulation have no legal options but compliance or filing lawsuits, said Matthew Kacsmaryk, a deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute.

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Former nurse sues Winnebago County Health Department


June 9, 2016

A former Rockford nurse files a lawsuit with the Winnebago County Health Department after she says she was fired because of her religious beliefs. According to the filed complaint, Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell merged pediatrics with women's health services and mandated that all nurses train to provide abortion referrals. Mendoza says when she informed her boss that she would not be participating because that would interfere with her religious beliefs, she says Martell gave her the ultimatum to either quit or take a job as a food inspector. Mendoza's attorney, Noel Sterett, says state law protects her and her beliefs. Mendoza is seeking damages under the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. There is a bill that would force doctors and nurses to promote and perform abortions despite their personal beliefs. That is currently awaiting the approval of Governor Bruce Rauner.

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Illinois Passes Bill Forcing Every Doctor, Pharmacist and Pregnancy Center to Promote Abortion


May 26, 2016

Illinois came one step closer to forcing its pro-life medical community to choose between violating state law and violating deeply held religious conscience Wednesday, as the state's House approved Senate Bill 1564 and set the legislation on the governor's desk. Originally put forward in the summer of 2015, the legislation would require pro-life medical providers, including 51 Illinois nonprofit pregnancy centers offering free services including ultrasound and STI testing, to take action the bill's opponents say amounts to participating in an abortion. Matt Bowman, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said, "This Amendment takes away the rights of Illinois women to be treated by a pro-life doctor, because it would force medical facilities and physicians who conscientiously object to performing abortions (and other procedures) to refer for, make arrangements for someone else to perform, or arrange referral information that lists willing providers, for abortions,"

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Faith-based physicians adopt transgender identification ethics statement

Christian Medical Association

May 23, 2016

CMA affirms the historic and enduring Christian understanding of humankind as having been created male and female. CMA has concerns about recent usage of the term "gender" to emphasize an identity other than one's biological sex, that is, a sense of self based on subjective feelings or desires of identifying more strongly with the opposite sex or with some combination of male and female. CMA affirms the obligation of Christian healthcare professionals to care for patients struggling with gender identity with sensitivity and compassion. CMA holds that attempts to alter gender surgically or hormonally for psychological indications, however, are medically inappropriate, as they repudiate nature, are unsupported by the witness of Scripture, and are inconsistent with Christian thinking on gender in every prior age. Accordingly, CMA opposes medical assistance with gender transition on the following grounds...

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New Obamacare Transgender Regulations Threaten Freedom of Physicians

Daily Signal commentary by Ryan T. Anderson

May 13, 2016

These regulations threaten the religious liberty, freedom of conscience, and independent medical judgment of health care professionals. And, just as they did in the transgender school policy the Obama administration announced this morning, the administration has created these new Obamacare regulations by redefining "sex" to mean "gender identity." These regulations will create serious conflicts of conscience for many organizations, hospitals, physicians, and other individuals involved in healthcare. By prohibiting differential treatment on the basis of "gender identity" in health services, these regulations will penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to be respected and affirmed, not altered or treated as diseases.

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Growing Intolerance Threatens Rights of Conscience of Health Care Workers

CNS News commentary by Lynn Wardle

March 29, 2016

Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. For example, in the U.S. Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, a nurse at a hospital in New York City, was reportedly forced to participate in a gruesome, violent, dismemberment abortion over her objections. She was told that if she did not participate in the abortion of a 22-week-old fetus she would be charged with "insubordination and patient abandonment" which would jeopardize her nursing license and her job.

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Canada declares war on Christian doctors and nurses

First Things commentary by Wesley J. Smith

March 4, 2016

Nurses, however, would not even have that slim hope, since they would merely be delegated the dirty task of carrying out the homicide. This leaves nurses with religious objections to euthanasia with the stark choice of administering the lethal dose when directed by a doctor, or being insubordinate and facing job termination. The same conundrum would no doubt apply to religiously dissenting pharmacists when ordered to concoct a deadly brew. Even Catholic and other religious nursing homes and hospices may soon be required by law to permit euthanasia on their premises, for the federal commission recommended that federal and provincial governments "ensure that all publicly funded health care institutions provide medical assistance in dying."

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Catholic health provider cautious about assisted dying ahead of new law

City News (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

February 26, 2016

The memo from management at Providence Health Care says that while the organization currently forbids the practice, it will monitor and conform to the law as it takes shape. Last year, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on physician-assisted dying, and the government has until June 6 to come up with replacement legislation. "(Physician-assisted dying) contradicts the basic tenets of Catholic health care, wherein life is held to be sacred from conception to natural death, and not permitted in Catholic health care institutions such as Providence," read the memo. Requests for assisted suicide from patients who have secured the required exemption from B.C. Supreme Court will be treated on a case-by-case basis to find a final solution, said the document [emphasis added]. Forcing these institutions to offer a service that infringes on their religious beliefs tramples on their constitutional right to freedom of conscience and religion, said Larry Worthen, executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada, in a statement.

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Could it soon be illegal for doctors to believe in male and female?

CNA commentary by Loredana Vuoto

February 3, 2016

A current proposal by a federal agency has raised concerns that doctors may be punished for believing that there are only two genders, rooted in biological sex. Gender identity is defined as "an individual's internal sense of gender, which may be different from an individual's sex assigned at birth." As a result, doctors and medical institutions could be penalized - or even forced out of business - if they are not willing to perform or facilitate sex reassignment surgeries and other "gender transition" treatments for individuals who identify as transsexual. Critics of the suggested regulation say that it is a radical proposal that could result in severe penalties for doctors who cannot in good conscience comply.

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Republicans accuse Obama of failing to enforce abortion law

The Hill

January 29, 2016

"The Office of Civil Rights knows this is an important issue, as you have said, and that time is of the essence," Burwell told lawmakers. That was 11 months ago. With no results to speak of, Republican lawmakers are crying foul. "I think that [President Obama] ought to go back and read the Constitution, because he is not upholding what has been passed by Congress," said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.). "Congress passed the law. He ought to enforce the law. That's his job." Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, said he had raised the issue with Burwell by phone, but that all he hears back is "they're investigating." "They just blow you off, basically," he added.

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Ontario gvmt's expert panel wants euthanasia for children 12 and under

LifeSite News

December 16, 2015

"A stacked deck" of pro-euthanasia academics has recommended that children 12 years of age or younger be eligible for assisted suicide or euthanasia, and palliative care hospices, religious-based care providers and health professionals must violate their consciences to "aid and abet" state-mandated killing of patients in care. “The whole problem has to do with consent,” said Larry Worthen of the [Canadian] Christian Medical and Dental Association, representing 1,700 doctors. For any other medical the doctor must believe it is good for the patient before they do it, but not this one. That means people who are depressed after being advised of a terminal illness or having suffered a disabling injury can kill themselves before they recover their will to live.

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Medical Malpractice in an Age of Gender Denial Disorder

Salvo commentary by Terrell Clemmons

December 1, 2015

"Medicine is a hard place for Christians these days," she observed. One can almost hear her sigh. "It seems to me that the battle is already lost. In the generation I am part of (I'm in my late 20s), I'm very much [in] the minority, especially in my field. The indoctrination they've put university-educated people through, and the discrimination against Christians and other social conservatives, both make my world feel very toxic at times. All discussion ends at "You bigot!"

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