The Point Washington Update - August 2014
In this edition:
Excerpted from "Kidnap Victim Addresses Human Trafficking Forum," ABC News, August 14, 2014, - A woman who was held captive for nine months has underscored the importance of work performed by health care professionals, law enforcement and social workers to rescue and support kidnap victims. Elizabeth Smart-Gilmour told a South Dakota forum on Wednesday that such work "makes a difference" in the fight against human trafficking and sexual abuse.
"People like you brought me back," Smart-Gilmour told the audience.
Smart-Gilmour was taken from her Salt Lake City bedroom in June 2002 at age 14 and held for nine months. Now 26, she described her capture and the repeated sexual assaults she endured. She told how she was moved from Utah to California and constantly threated with death if she tried to escape.
She stressed that authorities must have protocols in place to deal with rescued victims. Smart-Gilmour recalled how she was handcuffed, taken to the police station and left in a "little room with no windows" right after police officers found her. The situation, she said, did not make her feel comfortable. Since her rescue, she has started the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to protect children and educate them about violent and sexual crimes.
CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “Last week I attended in Atlanta a roundtable discussion group, led by trafficking expert Dr. Laura Lederer, focused on strategies to help healthcare professionals recognize and respond to victims of human trafficking. I began working with Laura over a decade ago when she was helping to lead the U.S. State Department's fight against trafficking. She was one of the first to recognize the tremendous potential for healthcare professionals to recognize and respond to human trafficking victims, who often visit healthcare facilities during their captivity.
“Along with CMDA Health Consultant on Human Trafficking Dr. Jeff Barrows, we engaged the White House, the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Homeland Security, the AIDS ambassador and many others in an effort to get the government to implement programs to encourage the healthcare community to respond to opportunities to help human trafficking victims. I remember a frustrating meeting in the White House with CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding and the President's advisors, trying to convince her of the need while she questioned the data supplied by the FBI.
“Since then, more research data has proved the point, and most recently a published research project led by Dr. Lederer highlights the tremendous opportunities for healthcare professionals to make a difference. A comprehensive study found that:
- Of victims who answered the questions about their contact with healthcare (N=98), 87.8 percent had contact with a healthcare provider while they were being trafficked.
- By far the most frequently reported treatment site was a hospital/emergency room, with 63.3 percent being treated at such a facility. Survivors also had significant contact with clinical treatment facilities, most commonly Planned Parenthood clinics, which more than a quarter of survivors (29.6 percent) visited. More than half (57.1 percent) of respondents had received treatment at some type of clinic (urgent care, women's health, neighborhood or Planned Parenthood).
- Pregnancy, miscarriage and abortion were all common experiences for survivors in the study. More than half (55.2 percent) of the 67 respondents who answered reported at least one abortion, with 20 respondents (29.9 percent) reporting multiple abortions; survivors in this study similarly reported that they often did not freely choose the abortions they had while being trafficked.
“You can make a difference. Your education on how to recognize and respond to victims of human trafficking can mean the difference between life and death, freedom and slavery for a victim you may encounter. Please consider taking the CME-credit online course below.”
Use CMDA's online modules for human trafficking education to obtain CME credit while equipping yourself to recognize, respond and treat victims of human trafficking.
"Health consequences of sex trafficking and their implications for identifying victims in healthcare facilities" - published research by Dr. Laura Lederer
To learn more about a new CMDA Commission on Human Trafficking to help prepare healthcare professionals to identify and assist victims of human trafficking contact Dr. Jeffrey Barrows.
Excerpted from "Administration offers new tweak to birth control rule," Washington Post, August 22, 2014 - The Obama administration, still facing legal challenges to its requirement that employer health plans provide no-cost birth control to female employees, outlined a new policy Friday to ensure that female workers at religiously-affiliated nonprofits can still receive contraception, even if their employers object. The administration also intends to offer a similar work-around to for-profit businesses after the Supreme Court's bitterly debated 5-4 decision in June that owners of closely held firms could refuse contraception coverage if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
The new federal guidelines address a set of ongoing legal challenges to the contraceptive requirement raised by dozens of religious nonprofit groups, such as hospitals and charities, that could again put the contraception mandate before the Supreme Court. The religious nonprofits are challenging the administration's already existing opt-out, in which the groups can ask a third party to provide the contraception coverage to their employees. However, the nonprofits say that filling out the form notifying the third party violates their religious beliefs.
The nonprofits can now directly inform the Department of Health and Human Services of their religious objections. HHS and the Labor Department will then coordinate contraception coverage with insurers and third party administrators. The nonprofits still have the option to notify a third party directly.
The Becket Fund, a law firm that represents 126 nonprofit plaintiffs ranging from evangelical Wheaton College to Catholic University of Notre Dame, said Friday afternoon it hadn’t yet seen the full text of the rule and thus couldn’t comment on its specifics. Several of the country’s biggest faith groups on Friday said the revised rule was still problematic because it didn’t fully exempt organizations – for-profit or non-profit – with religious objections.
"Here we go again,” said Russell Moore, president of the policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest U.S. Protestant denomination. “What we see here is another revised attempt to settle issues of religious conscience with accounting maneuvers. This new policy doesn't get at the primary problem.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it's worried that the administration's proposal could limit which for-profit businesses can receive a religious exemption.
"By proposing to extend the 'accommodation' to the closely held for-profit employers that were wholly exempted by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hobby Lobby, the proposed regulations would effectively reduce, rather than expand, the scope of religious freedom,” the group's statement read.
Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Lori Windham’s Statement: "This is latest step in the administration’s long retreat on the HHS Mandate. It is the eighth time in three years the government has retreated from its original, hardline stance that only 'houses of worship' that hire and serve fellow believers deserve religious freedom.
"The new rule holds implications for the 102 cases, including religious charities like Little Sisters of the Poor (see video), Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network (see video) and religious colleges like Colorado Christian University. Ninety percent of religious ministries challenging the mandate have received relief from the courts, and we are hopeful the administration’s new rule will reflect the robust protections that have always been given to religious individuals in this country.
"Religious ministries in these cases serve tens of thousands of Americans, helping the poor and homeless and healing the sick. The Little Sisters of the Poor alone serve more than ten thousand of the elderly poor. These charities want to continue following their faith. They want to focus on ministry—such as sharing their faith and serving the poor—without worrying about the threat of massive IRS penalties."
- Urge your U.S. senators to support (or thank your senator for already co-sponsoring) the Health Care Conscience Rights Act - S. 1204 , to protect religious liberty and preserve patient access by providing conscience protections for healthcare professionals. (Note: You will be provided with editable text based on your senator's sponsorship or non-sponsorship of this bill.)
- Urge your U.S. Representative to support (or thank your Rep. for already co-sponsoring) the Health Care Conscience Rights Act - H.R. 940.
Read new HHS rule
Excerpted from "Judge Upholds State’s Authority to Define Marriage as Union of Man and Woman," commentary by Ryan T. Anderson in The Daily Signal, August 12, 2014 - Last week a judge in Tennessee upheld that state’s Constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The case involved a same-sex couple married in Iowa that sought a divorce in Tennessee. Because Tennessee does not recognize same-sex relationships as marriages, it was unable to divorce the couple. Last week, Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr., cited the Supreme Court’s decision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act case, U.S. v. Windsor, as support that Tennessee has the right to define marriage for itself.
When the Supreme Court struck down the federal law defining marriage last year, Justice Anthony Kennedy explained that states have “the historical and essential authority to define the marital relation.” Simmons takes Kennedy at his word, recognizing the basic equality of state citizens. Just as the citizens of Iowa are free to adopt same-sex marriage (though it was a state court that redefined marriage there), so too the citizens of Tennessee are free to retain the traditional definition.
What about arguments that claim there is a fundamental right to same-sex marriage? Simmons explains that while “marriage is a fundamental right,” there is no right to redefine marriage. Simmons continued: “neither the Tennessee Supreme Court nor the United States Supreme Court has ever decided that this fundamental right under a state’s laws extends beyond the traditional definition of marriage as a union between (1) one man and (1) one woman.”
What’s really at stake in this debate? Simmons explains: “The battle is not between whether or not marriage is a fundamental right but what unions are included in the definition of marriage.” Yes, the fundamental policy question in this debate is “What Is Marriage?”
Our federal Constitution is silent on what marriage is. Judges should not insert their own policy preferences about marriage and declare them to be required by the Constitution. The courts should uphold the freedom of the American people and their elected representatives to make marriage policy.
“As the links to a research controversy below (see Resources) suggest, anyone wading into the marriage debate these days needs a double coat of armor. But that's hardly unexpected or new for Christians whose convictions counter the culture. If we can demonstrate love for those who practice homosexuality while courageously offering a reasonable rationale in defense of marriage as between a man and woman, as my colleague Ryan Anderson does, then perhaps reasonable people will consider our message.
“For millennia, societies have recognized marriage as a consensual, exclusive and lifelong commitment between one man and one woman, expressed in a physical union uniquely designed to produce and nurture children. The universal recognition of conjugal marriage by virtually every civilization throughout history, arrived at from both secular and theistic perspectives, testifies to the natural evidence for marriage, its objective structure and its significant contribution to human flourishing and societal stability.
“But now some would replace marriage with a subjective notion based on emotional relationship, divorced from the natural and objective marital elements of physical union and procreation. The abject subjectivity of this approach offers no rational parameters that would exclude further redefinitions of 'marriage as between multiple partners, related persons or even persons and pets.
“With people of good will on both sides of the marriage debate, we all do well to focus on respecting and listening to each other, presenting a reasonable rationale and letting the democratic process play out to express the will of the people. Courts have a tendency to short-circuit that process by imposing personal views from the bench, and conflicting rulings in lower courts appear bound to return this issue to the Supreme Court in the near future.
“In the meantime, consider reading some of the resources below on this issue. As we commit to remaining true to convictions founded on Scripture, may God give us the courage to live faithfully in the midst of a contrary culture--just as the biblical Daniel, Esther and a "great cloud of witnesses" have done throughout history.
Use the easy, editable form at the CMA Freedom2Care legislative action website to voice your support for:
House bill: Marriage and Religious Freedom Act - HR 3133
Senate bill: Marriage and Religious Freedom Act - S 1808
What is Marriage? by Ryan T. Anderson, et. al.
Research and controversy:
- "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study" research publication by Mark Regnerus
- "Homosexual Parent Study: Summary of Findings," article by Peter Sprigg
- "Study of Gay Parenting Draws Criticism" - ABC News
- "Mark Regnerus: Defending my research on same-sex parenting" - Dallas Morning News
- Social Scientists Defend Mark Regnerus' Controversial Study on Same-Sex Parenting - Christianity Today