Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Catholics win Years-Long Legal Battle Against HHS Contraceptive Mandate

On Thursday, the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) announced victory in a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “contraceptive mandate,” which requires health insurers to provide co-pay-free coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilizations.

After nearly seven years of lawsuits, EWTN, a Catholic news network whose broadcasts reach over 300 million households in more than 145 countries and territories, will no longer have to cover these services in its health plan.

The contraceptive mandate is a regulation that was ordered by the Obama administration’s HHS Department in 2011, to complement the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that became law in 2010. The rule states that health insurers must provide no-cost-sharing coverage for FDA-approved contraceptives, which include abortion-inducing drugs and the IUD, and sterilizations – all blanketed under the term “women’s preventive health care.”

The Trump administration has expanded exemptions from the mandate in several areas to include, recently, non-profit groups and small businesses that morally or for religious reasons object to such “health care” coverage.

However, the regulation is still in place and forces most Americans who pay for health insurance, individually or through their employer, to subsidize other people’s contraception, abortifacients and sterilizations.

As Trump’s HHS Department states, “Under the existing regulatory requirements created by the previous administration, employers, unless they qualify for an exemption, must offer health insurance that covers all FDA-approved contraception, which includes medications and devices that may act as abortifacients as well sterilization procedures.”

“The rules leave in place contraceptive coverage guidelines where no religious or moral objection exists, and they do not change the Health Resources and Services Administration’s authority to decide whether to include contraceptives in the women’s preventative services guidelines for other entities,” the HHS added. It also noted that it only expected exemptions to impact “approximately 200 employers.”

For EWTN, which began its legal battle against the mandate during the Obama years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled on Nov. 29 to “vacate” and remand the matter entirely.   

EWTN Chairman and CEO Michael P. Warsaw said the network’s win “has been a long time coming.”

“Almost seven years and two presidential administrations later, the government and the courts have now realized what EWTN has been saying all along, that the HHS mandate was an unconstitutional attempt to coerce us into violating our strongly held beliefs,” Warsaw said. “This is the right outcome for EWTN and for all those who value religious liberty in America.”

EWTN first sued in 2012, represented by attorneys from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, after Obama’s HHS introduced the contraceptive mandate.

The initial suit, according to a press release by EWTN, “sought an injunction against the imposition of the mandate as well as a declaratory judgment that it was unconstitutional.”

The lawsuit was dismissed, but EWTN filed another suit in 2013, joined by the state of Alabama. In June 2014, an Alabama district court ruled against EWTN, but the network appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

According to the Catholic News Agency, after a lengthy process, the government agreed “not to enforce the contraceptive mandate” against EWTN, and the network asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the decision of the District Court, which it did on Thursday.

Becket Senior Counsel Lori Windham said EWTN had “fought long and hard” for its basic freedoms.

“This victory ensures that EWTN can continue to serve as a voice for religious liberty for many years to come,” Windham said.


Bathroom Policy Needs Some Remodeling
Alexis Lightcap may have graduated from Boyertown High, but she’s not done fighting for the students there. Someone has to. And based on the last three years, it’s not going to be school officials.

You don’t ever dream you’re going to sue your high school, Alexis says. “But that’s exactly what several of my peers and I had to do.” If the adults aren’t going to do their job protecting kids, then a handful of teenagers in Pennsylvania are determined to do it.

Like most students at Boyertown, Alexis had no idea the school’s policy had changed until she walked into the girl’s restroom and saw a teenage boy. “My first thought was to get out,” she remembers. So she did. On the school’s security cameras, you can watch her running out and down the hall. What happens next is a story she tells in yesterday’s USA Today. “I tried to get the attention of administrators to explain to them how uncomfortable — how scared — I felt sharing the girls’ restroom with a boy,” she says. “They wouldn’t listen. The principal simply wrote down my concerns on a Post-it note and said he’d contact me soon. He never did.”

Alexis’s parents, who’d adopted her out of the state’s foster care system, were just as shocked. “Boyertown officials kept it a secret from them, too.” Not a single parent had been told about the change — which meant that school locker rooms were also open to everyone. One of Alexis’s classmates found that out the hard way when he walked into the boys’ changing area and saw a teenage girl in a sports bra and shorts. The administrator he talked to told him to “tolerate it” — to “make it as natural as possible.”

“Hollywood movies and TV shows try to make that kind of moment seem funny,” Alexis explains. “But in real life, it’s embarrassing and unnerving. Locker rooms and restrooms are supposed to be a refuge for students, and adults, too, for that matter… Why is it so hard for school officials to understand that young girls care about the privacy of their bodies? It’s natural for us and our parents to worry about who might walk in on us in a vulnerable moment.”

Boyertown officials may not care about her privacy, but Alexis and her attorneys at ADF are hoping the Supreme Court will make them. She and other students, listed in the suit as Joel Doe and Jack Jones, are hoping the justices will step in and decide an issue that could have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction months ago. See, the problem isn’t that schools are trying to accommodate these confused kids. The problem is that their solution is taking everyone’s privacy away in the process.

“Schools can,” Alexis writes, “and should be compassionate in supporting students who experience gender dysphoria. So should other students. But a truly fair and genuinely compassionate policy doesn’t have to be kept secret from students and parents. And an effective policy would be one that secures the privacy of every student.”

Ironically, that’s the kind of common sense policy that states like North Carolina worked to pass into law. Like most of these debates, it wasn’t a fight the Tar Heels picked. Leaders were just responding to some activists on the Charlotte city council that had an agenda and the Obama administration who were trying to force this gender free-for-all on Americans against their will. One of the biggest lies the Left trotted out in an effort to kill the efforts to protect women and children from predators was that it would cost the state billions of dollars in business. What a joke that turned out to be!

North Carolina didn’t just weather the storm of H.B. 2 — it thrived in it. For two years in a row, Forbes named the Tar Heel State #2 on Forbes’s top states for doing business. This week, it surpassed even that — winning the #1 spot for 2018! Two years after the law, more businesses are moving to North Carolina than away from it. “The outlook is also strong. Job growth and gross state product growth are expected to rank among the strongest in the country over the next five years,” Forbes points out. As for all of those people moving out of the state because it dared to protect women and children? “The population is growing twice as fast as the U.S. average…”

If liberals were hoping to make a case study out of the fallout, they’ll have a tough time trying! Other states have considered measures like H.B 2 — and based on these numbers, it might be the best decision they ever make.


A Marriage Message Made in Taiwan

Taiwan was supposed to be the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. Then, they asked voters. And like countries the world over, the island’s leaders got the same answer: No.

Of the 10 questions on the Taiwanese ballot, none got more attention than the five dealing with LGBT “rights.” “Do you agree that marriage defined in The Civil Code should be restricted to the union between one man and one woman?” voters were asked. An overwhelming portion of the country — 70.1 percent — said yes. Of course, you’ll have a hard time finding the actual number in American newspapers, since our media is doing its best to ignore the landslide. But the message from the country off the east coast of China could not be clearer: there is no significant international movement toward same-sex marriage.

Some people might see the results and think the island has a massive Christian population. They’d be wrong. Less than five percent of the country are Protestants or Catholics. And although they were vocal about their opinion on the issue, the fact of the matter is, most of the world’s population knows how unnatural the idea is. Until 2015, when the Supreme Court forced same-sex on America, LGBT activists here at home insisted the U.S. was outside the mainstream. But the irony is, we’re only outside of the mainstream now that it’s legal! There are 195 countries on this planet, and only 27 of them allow same-sex marriage. That’s 13 percent — hardly the stuff of global consensus.

Besides, not even global consensus is a substitute for truth. And as the Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei told his church’s leaders, no law can change God’s design for marriage. While the Church does not condone discrimination, he said, “We cannot support same-sex ‘marriage’ and same-sex unions,” he insisted. “The legalization is… not in line with our teachings.”

Seven thousand miles away in America, the vote is having an interesting effect on our own debate. In a country where natural marriage is still the popular view, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to voice those views without backlash. Scott Chen, who was educated in Taiwan, found that out when he posted a message about the vote in Chinese. “Some people think that marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman, I think so too, but that’s your own business.” You can imagine how well that would be taken by the LGBT movement if Chen were an average businessman. They’d demand his resignation. The problem is, Chen isn’t just an average businessman. Three months ago, he was named president of an app facilitating same-sex dating. For how much longer, after this backlash, no one knows.

Chen tried to defend himself. “I said marriage is a holy matrimony between a man and a woman is based on my own personal experience,” he said. “I am a straight man married to a woman I love and I have two beautiful daughters I love from the marriage. This is how I feel about my marriage. Different people have their different feelings about their marriages. You can’t deny my feelings about my marriage.”

Now, we expect that kind of backtracking from a lot of people in corporate America. The problem for believers, however, is that some Christians are doing the same thing. They become so intimidated by the cultural bullies that they put the fear of man above the fear of God. They shrink back and go silent on truth that is found not only in the Bible, but history and science as well. If Christians, who know the truth and are called to speak the truth ignore the truth, then what hope do we have? As a church in this country, we need a clarion call for courage. In a culture where 62 percent of student conservatives are too afraid to share their ideas in class, America is in a crisis situation.

Fortunately, this country has a president who, when it comes to doing and saying the tough things, refuses to be intimidated. That kind of courage breeds courage. It only takes one person — an Isabella Chow — doing something radically brave, to help others find their voice. And before you know it, people like Isabella won’t be standing alone, because tens of thousands of people will be standing with them and behind them, inspired by their bravery. We need more Isabellas in this country — and if we’re going to change anything, we need them now.


Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes denied visa to tour Australia with 'The Deplorables'

Right-wing provocateur and founder of the Proud Boys group Gavin McInnes has had his visa application blocked by the Home Affairs Department, failing the character test to enter Australia.

Critics of Mr McInnes were urging the department and Immigration Minister David Coleman to ban him from travelling to Australia for a speaking tour next year, concerned about his extreme views and promotion of violence.

The ABC understands Mr McInnes was notified a few weeks ago that the department was likely to block his visa application because he was judged to be of bad character, and the formal window for him to appeal closed on Friday.

Mr McInnes cut ties with the Proud Boys group earlier this month. The group, which Mr McInnes has previously labelled a "gang", describes itself as a men's organisation, committed to upholding "Western chauvinist values".

The FBI designated them as an extremist organisation.

On Thursday, a petition of 81,000 signatures was delivered to Federal Parliament calling on the Government to block Mr McInnes from entering the country.

Lawyer Nyadol Nyuon, who founded the petition, said the Government's decision was a win for free speech.

"To have allowed him to come still I think would have made it seem as if the Government had given tacit approval at the very least to these calls for violence against people you don't agree with as a legitimate form of free speech," she said.

"It's not and it should never be."

Ms Nyuon said Mr McInnes could not possibly have met the character test for entry to Australia.

"I'm happy that women, non-whites, certain members of the LGBTI communities don't have to live in an atmosphere of fear after these individuals are allowed to come in, or from the fear of what that might suggest to them," she said.

Mr McInnes was due to tour the country early next year, alongside UK far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

The ABC understands no visa application has been received for Mr Robinson.

The Proud Boys list their values as including being against political correctness, racial guilt and racism, while promoting free speech and gun rights.

But they have been widely criticised as promoting violence against people who do not share their views.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Home Affairs said all non-citizens entering Australia had to meet character requirements before a visa would be granted.

"For visitors who may hold controversial views, any risk they may pose will be balanced against Australia's well-established freedom of speech and freedom of beliefs, amongst other relevant considerations," she said.

Dvir Abramovich, chairman of Australia's leading civil rights organisation, the Anti-Defamation Commission, issued a statement praising the Government's decision to reject Mr McInnes's application.

"I have no doubt that his visit would have cultivated a disruptive atmosphere of incitement as well as attracting hardcore extremists, and this explosive combination could have resulted in rioting and street fights," Dr Abramovich said.

"This moral decision is a strong affirmation that the noxious rhetoric often spewed by Mr McInnes will never be tolerated in Australia.

"At a time when anti-Semitism and far-right activism in our nation are on the increase, we should not be providing such individuals with an opportunity to promote their divisive and dangerous agenda which runs counter to our core values."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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