Bioethics and Public Policy Report

November 2014

[Click on Endnotes for More Information]

The National Scene: As laws to legalize physician assisted suicide continue to be proposed at the state level, the tragedy of the death of Brittany Maynard by this means has occurred. For the NCBC’s response see: http://www.ncbcenter.org/resources/physician-assisted-suicide-and-the-death-of-brittany-maynard. ⬥ Also see: Recent Good News and The State of Conscience/Religious Liberty concerning the Contraceptive Mandate.

The State of Conscience/Religious Liberty: After the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the University of Notre Dame injunctive relief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Contraceptive Mandate, the University has petitioned the United States Supreme Court for relief from this violation of religious liberty. ⬥ A regulatory change in California has placed elective abortion in the category of ‘basic health services’ which all insurance plans, including those of churches, must cover. ⬥ Houston, Texas subpoenas, issued to pastors on behalf of that city’s openly lesbian mayor, demanding all sermons and correspondence dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, have been withdrawn. ⬥ Also see: The State of Marriage.

The State of Marriage: Six county magistrates have resigned in North Carolina rather than honor a court order requiring them to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. ⬥ Couer D’Alene, Idaho City officials have told ordained ministers who run Hitching Post Wedding Chapel that they are required to perform same-sex marriages or face months in jail and/or thousands of dollars in fines. ⬥ The State of New York has leveled heavy fines on Liberty Ridge Farm in upstate New York for declining to host a lesbian wedding service. ⬥ See also: Recent Good News.

State by State: Despite the fact that in 2007, and for the sixth time since 1988, California’s Compassionate Choices Act Assisted Suicide failed in that state’s Legislature, the initiative has gained momentum again. ⬥ A U.S. District Court has issued an injunction against a Louisiana state law that protects woman seeking an abortion, by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges to local hospitals. ⬥ Similarly, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a state law requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion center. ⬥ The citizens of North Dakota rejected in that state’s referendum a constitutional amendment which would have given to all human beings “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development.” ⬥ The citizens of Colorado rejected a similar measure which would have protected the unborn child from criminal assaults on the mother that led to a wrongful death. ⬥ The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a Colorado law creating a floating “bubble zone” of eight feet around any person entering an abortion center.

Recent Good News: The full panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the court’s ruling that the Texas safety requirements for telemedicine medical abortions, and the requirement for abortionists to have admitting privileges to hospitals be upheld. ⬥ Tennessee’s citizens passed Amendment 1 which changes the state constitution to assert that nothing in it “secures or protects a right to abortion.” ⬥ The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that a state law restricting medication abortions is constitutional, thus preventing such abortions from occurring in that state. ⬥ A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the federal government cannot force Johnson Welded Products to comply with the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. ⬥ The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida has ordered that Ave Maria University not be subject to fines for non-compliance with the HHS Contraceptive Mandate while their case continues in court litigation. ⬥ The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed lower court rulings in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky that struck down same-sex marriage bans.

Sharing Your Good News and Your Efforts: If there are public policy advocacy strategies which you wish to share with others, please e-mail mhilliard@ncbcenter.org.

Sharing of Resources: The web page of the National Catholic Bioethics Center is a significant resource in the realm of bioethics: www.ncbcenter.org. Also, bioethicists are on call twenty-four hours a day, every day of the week, for consultation by calling 215-877-2660.

TABLE 1
STATE CONTRACEPTIVE MANDATES; CONSCIENCE PROVISIONS INDICATED

TABLE 2
STATES WITH STATUTES/CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS PROTECTING THE TRADITIONAL DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE


ARTICLE ENDNOTES

1 http://go.nationalpartnership.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=45027&news_iv_ctrl=0&abbr=daily2_.
2 http://thefederalist.com/2014/10/22/california-orders-churches-to-fund-abortions-or-else/.
3 http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/29/houston-mayor-drops-bid-to-subpoena-pastors-sermons/.
4 http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/19447-more-judges-resign-in-n-c-over-order- to-perform-gay-marriages.
5 http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/9364.
6 http://nypost.com/2014/11/10/couple-fined-for-refusing-to-host-same-sex-wedding-on-their-farm/.
7 http://www.catholic-sf.org/ns.php?newsid=7&id=62777.
8 http://go.nationalpartnership.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=45462.
9 http://newsok.com/oklahoma-supreme-court-temporarily-blocks-enforcement-of-new-abortion- laws/article/5363467.
10 http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/05/colorado-north-dakota-reject-personhood-while-tennessee- approves-anti-abortion-measure.
11 Ibid.
12 http://gazette.com/court-wont-hear-dispute-over-colorado-abortion-clinic-law/article/1540710.
13 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/us/texas-court-refuses-request-to-reconsider-abortion-restrictions- .html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=2.
14 http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/05/colorado-north-dakota-reject-personhood-while-tennessee- approves-anti-abortion-measure. 15http://go.nationalpartnership.org/site/News2?abbr=daily2_&page=NewsArticle&id=45945&security=1201&news _iv_ctrl=-1.
16 http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/national-govt-politics/urbana-company-does-not-have-to- provide-birth-cont/nhtBG/.
17 http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/222113-catholic-college-wins-temporary-relief-under-birth-control- mandate.
18 http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/06/us/same-sex-marriage-ruling/.