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The Point Washington Update - June 19, 2014

In this edition:

Article #1
Excerpted from commentary by Jennifer Marshall,"HHS Mandate: Only the Beginning of Obamacare’s Conscience Problems," Daily Signal, June 17, 2014 - Any day now the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties—family-owned businesses that have gone to court to challenge a provision under Obamacare that requires them and nearly all other employers to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization, regardless of their religious beliefs.

The suits, brought by the Green family, evangelicals who own Hobby Lobby, and the Hahn family, Mennonites who run Conestoga Wood, are among 49 filed by family-owned businesses challenging the Obamacare HHS mandate. The Obama administration has been unwilling to compromise. Meanwhile, 51 lawsuits have been joined by hundreds of non-profit religious organizations seeking to preserve their religious independence to set internal policy consistent with their faith. All told, 300 plaintiffs.

But it is important to remember that all this commotion is the result of one small aspect of one set of regulations concerning preventive care under Obamacare. And that means we’ve only just begun to see the potential conscience problems that could come from this massive overhaul of our health care system.

Handing the moral compass to remote bureaucrats to navigate this territory is a bad idea. The centralization of more decision-making about the benefits that health plans must provide means that such determinations are more likely to be made without respect for Americans’ differing beliefs on these issues.

That’s why we need patient-centered health care. Americans should be free to choose the health care plans that meet their needs and reflect their moral convictions. Individuals and families need to be able to direct their health care in accord with their conscience; that includes the benefits, treatments and procedures financed through their health insurance.

Commentary #1
CMA VP for Govt. Relations Jonathan Imbody: “My friend and colleague Jennifer Marshall realizes what our founders and the ancient philosophers knew--that left unchecked, Government will compete with God for the people's allegiance, replacing His universal standards with State ideology and mandating submission. Consider the following observations:

Plato: “[T]here exist divine moral laws, not easy to apprehend, but operating upon all mankind. God, not man, is the measure of all things.”i


Cicero: "True law is right reason in agreement with Nature; it is of universal application and everlasting; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrong-doing by its prohibitions."ii


Augustine: "True justice has no existence save in that republic whose founder and ruler is Christ....iii [T]there can be no people, and therefore no republic, where there is no justice."iv


Thomas Jefferson: "[O]ur rules can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God."v


James Madison: "Religion, or the duty which we owe our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force and violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience."vi


Charles Colson: "Both church and state assert standards and values in society; both seek authority; both compete for allegiance. As members of both the religious and the political spheres, the Christian is bound to face conflict."vii

When Government replaces God and His universal standards, the only standard left is the sword of the State, which it wields with coercive power (fining Hobby Lobby $791 million dollars a yearviii) to enforce its own ideology. Take a stand with the Green and Hahn families as they fight in the courts for religious freedom. As Mordecai explained to a hesitant Queen Esther,ix this edict also has you in its crosshairs.

i Cited in Russell Kirk, The Roots of American Order (LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1974), 81.
ii Charles Colson and Ellen Santilli, God and Government, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987, updated 2007, Kindle location 4917.
iii Colson, location 1482.
iv Colson, location 14479.
v Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), U.S. president. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), Query 17, p. 159, ed. William Peden (1954).
vi James Madison (1751–1836), U.S. president. Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776. W.T. Hutchinson et al., The Papers of James Madison, vol. 1, p. 175, Chicago and Charlottesville, Virginia (1962-1991).
vii Colson, Kindle location 2223.
ix Esther 4:13.

Article #2
Excerpted from "Does Contraception Really Reduce the Abortion Rate?," commentary by Michael J. New, National Review Online, June 17, 2014 - Last week, the Guttmacher Institute released an analysis of the recent decline in the incidence of abortion. Overall, the abortion rate declined by an impressive 13 percent between 2008 and 2011 and reached its lowest level since 1973. This Guttmacher analysis joins a chorus of pundits — including Andrew Sullivan — who were quick to credit contraception for this decline in the abortion rate. And like most Guttmacher studies, this analysis is quick to downplay pro-life laws and other pro-life efforts.

The author makes a fair point that the abortion decline was fairly consistent throughout the country and was not concentrated in states that were active in passing pro-life laws. He correctly points out the sharp increase in state-level pro-life laws took place after the abortion decline already happened. However, the study presents a false dichotomy between either crediting legislation or crediting contraceptives for the falling abortion numbers. Indeed, it neglects other factors such as public opinion. In 2009, for the very first time, Gallup reported that a majority of Americans described themselves as “pro-life.”

A longer term analysis of abortion trends reveals insights which weaken Guttmacher’s case. Last month, the Charlotte Lozier Institute released a study by Susan Wills analyzing the U.S. abortion decline from 1990 to 2010. The key finding is that the abortion decline has not been uniform among age groups. The declines have been the greatest in both absolute and percentage terms among teens and women in their early 20s. This is important for two reasons. First, Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs), which are touted by Guttmacher, tend to be unpopular with this subset of women. Second, there is a growing body of data showing declines in teen sexual activity since the early 1990s. As such, contraceptive use may be playing less of a role in the long-term abortion decline than the Guttmacher analysis would indicate.

Additional analysis further weakens Guttmacher’s argument. According to its own statistics, the number of abortions has fallen by roughly 34 percent since 1990 and the abortion rate has fallen by 38 percent since that time. It is true that contraception use has increased since the early 1990s, but it’s also true that contraception use has been rising steadily since the early 1960s, and obviously predates the abortion decline by a significant number of years. More importantly, even though contraceptive use has gone up, the fertility rate and unintended pregnancy rate have both actually increased slightly since the mid-1990s. All in all, pro-life efforts to change the hearts and minds of women facing crisis pregnancies might be more effective than commonly realized.

Commentary #2
CMDA Executive Vice President Gene Rudd, MD – “When I recently asked an accountant for a financial report, her response was, “What do you want the numbers to be?” I had heard this as a joke, but she seemed serious. When I told her I wanted the numbers to be accurate, she explained that she could make a variety of assumptions and chose different methodologies that would produce somewhat different results. If I had a preference for how the numbers should look, she would make decisions that would influence the numbers in that direction. To me it sounded like cooking the books; essentially asking what I wanted 2 + 2 to equal.

“And it is not only in accounting. The medical and scientific literature are replete with similar biases and influences that determine outcome, intentional or not. A survey published in the journal Naturei revealed the magnitude of the problem, from poor record keeping (27 percent) to outright fraud. And these were the researchers themselves admitting wrongdoing! Actual misbehavior may be higher.

“We should be wary that those with social or political agendas will cook the books, reporting data the way that serves their purpose. What do you think the Guttmacher Institute (founded and funded by Planned Parenthood) wants the numbers to be?”

iMartinson BC, Anderson MS, de Vries R. Scientists behaving badly, Nature 435/9, June 2005.

Article #3
Excerpted from "Freedom2Care blog posting," "Jackbooted 'Tolerance,'" by Jonathan Imbody, June 6, 2014 - The Obama administration appears prepared to enforce its ideology regarding same-sex marriage with trademark inflexibility and atypical efficiency. Administration officials have begun inserting into federal grants notices and other official policies sweeping new requirements and definitions of marriage.

While the new policies cite as their rationale a need to implement the Supreme Court's recent Windsor decision on same-sex marriage, the way agencies are applying that viewpoint to grants appears aimed at eliminating from the public square any groups that disagree with the administration's ideology.

Exactly what this flood of apparently inflexible new policies means to groups with values that differ from the Obama administration will play out in the upcoming months and meanwhile requires legal analysis. The broad, sweeping language of the new policies make it difficult to determine precisely how and in what specific areas the Obama same-sex doctrine will be applied.

Meanwhile, the outlook appears ominous, for example, for:

  • Faith-based organizations that maintain fidelity to Judeo-Christian sexual norms in their policies and personnel practices.
  • Sexual education programs that emphasize the benefits of saving sex for (traditional) marriage.
  • Adoption agencies that recognize in their policies the benefit to children of having a father and mother.
  • Health organizations that emphasize the health benefits of male-female monogamy.

Policies enforcing the administration's marriage ideology (conveniently couched in the context of Windsor) are cropping up across federal agencies, including this one from the Health Resources Services Administration:

Federal Recognition of Same-sex Spouses/Marriages


[A]ll grant recipients will be subject to a term and condition that instructs grantees to recognize any same-sex marriage legally entered into in a U.S. jurisdiction that recognizes their marriage....

Within days, the Supreme Court will announce its decisions in cases involving the Obama administration's trampling of religious freedom in its drive to enforce its ideology regarding contraception and abortion. The administration's new policies enforcing its ideology regarding same-sex marriage will make good summer reading for the justices, since they can expect a raft of related cases next term.

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