Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship
This week, Governor Rick Snyder signed the education budget bill for 2016–2017, Senate Bill 801, into law. The budget included $2.5 million in funding to reimburse non-public schools for state health, safety, and welfare mandates. Michigan Catholic Conference is thankful to the governor for his support and looks forward to continued collaboration with public and non-public school groups for the benefit of all children. To send a message of thanks to Governor Snyder for signing the budget, click here.
Governor Rick Snyder also kept several other MCC-supported measures in the 2016–2017 omnibus budget legislation (HB 5294) and the education budget bill (SB 801) which were signed this week, including:
The need is now urgent for Congress to enact the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (H.R. 4828/S. 2927). For many months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been working to protect the conscience rights of pro-life health care providers. As mentioned in last week’s Lansing Update, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently allowed California to continue forcing health plans to cover abortions. Your action is needed to encourage adoption of the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (CPA), which will protect healthcare providers from being forced to pay for or participate in abortions and allow victims of discrimination a “right of action” to defend their rights in court.
On Monday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5–3 ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the case that struck down a Texas law on abortion clinic safety. The law specifically required individuals performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. It also required all abortion clinics in the state to meet ambulatory surgical center standards, like adequate staffing, soap dispensers, and hallways wide enough for emergency personnel to walk through with a stretcher if needed. The Pro-Life Spokeswoman at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Deirdre McQuade, reacted to the decision:
"The Court has rejected a common-sense law protecting women from abortion facilities that put profits above patient safety…Abortion claims the lives of unborn children, and too often endangers their mothers...This ruling contradicts the consensus among medical groups that such measures protect women's lives."
Staff is disappointed that the Court failed to recognize or acknowledge the vast amount of evidence of the real, physical dangers present to women undergoing abortions but will continue to speak out about the physical and emotional harms that abortion poses. The Catholic Church will also continue to offer assistance, like Project Rachel, to post-abortive women.
In 2007, the State of Washington began requiring pharmacies to dispense abortion-inducing drugs like Ella and Plan B. No pharmacies could be exempted from the rules due to religious objections, and conscience-based referrals to other pharmacies were also not allowed under the rules. A pharmacy owned by the local Storman family challenged the rules in court. While the federal district court granted the Stormans a permanent injunction, the state appealed the decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals restored the regulations. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Storman’s v. Washington Department of Health, by a 5–3 decision. By declining the case, the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court has been upheld, forcing pharmacists to dispense drugs contrary to their conscience. The three U.S. Supreme Court justices who wanted to hear the case and dissented from the majority opinion — Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Clarence Thomas — called this case “an ominous sign” and expressed doubt that the regulations in question “were adopted for — or that they actually serve — any legitimate purpose.”
Over the last several years, dioceses around the United States have highlighted the importance of religious freedom through a two-week period of special events called the Fortnight for Freedom. This year, the Fortnight began with Mass in Baltimore on June 21 — the vigil of the feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More — and will end with a closing Mass in DC on July 4. The closing Mass will be televised on EWTN and the CatholicTV Network. The theme of this year’s event is “Witnesses to Freedom,” which highlights individuals who have lived their faith in the public realm, including the Little Sisters of the Poor.
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