Legislative Update for February 24, 2012

By February 24, 2012Legislative Updates
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Last week has shown that nothing is more fundamental to Americans then our First Amendment rights. As the storm of controversy over the Obama Administrations contraception mandate continues to brew, it becomes more apparent that Christianity is under attack.

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration issued an interim regulation requiring health care plans to include free abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization in their insurance plans, except for those who meet the insignificant religious exemption. In order to quell the rising tide of opposition, President Obama held a press conference where he touted his so-called compromise. However, Obamas compromise was exactly what we expected. It was completely illusory, a smoke-and-mirrors ploy to draw attention away from the fact that he did absolutely nothing. This is evidenced by the final contraceptive rule, which was published after his announcement but did not change the interim regulation.

In order to highlight the fact that the Obama Administrations regulation remained unchanged, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) held a hearing titled, Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State.  Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience? As expected, Democrats on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee tried to derail the hearing by trying to refocus it away from our religious liberties and onto contraception. The simple truth, as evidenced by two papers Concerned Women for America (CWA) recently sent to the Hill that debunks the Democrats claims, is that there are over 4,500 Title X clinics and over 8,000 Community Health Centers that provide contraceptives to women.Click here and here to read those papers.

In the Senate, debate began on the Highway bill.While we normally dont follow transportation issues, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced his Respect for Rights of Conscience Amendment, (S. AMDT. 1520) to the bill.Blunts Amendment would ensure that religious beliefs are safeguarded. Insurance companies would be able to refuse to provide services that violate religious beliefs of employers or health plans.His amendment was blocked by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada). We have heard that Reid will allow it to be voted on after the Presidents Day recess, despite using a procedural antic that would prohibit it.

Act Now:

1.Call or visit your senators while they are at home and urge them to support the Blunt Amendment. Click here to find your senators contact information.

2.Call your representative and ask him/her to cosponsor H.R 1179 (Respect for Rights of Conscience).Please also ask them to urge Leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote. Click here to find your representatives contact information.

While much attention in the House last week was focused on the contraceptive mandate, we were able to celebrate a small pro-life victory.Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona) legislation on Prenatal Non Discrimination Act (H.R 3541) was passed out of the Judiciary Committee. This bill prohibits a mother from getting an abortion based on the babys sex or race. Democrats unsuccessfully worked to add anti-family amendments to the bill, like the Violence Against Women Act Funding, but Republicans held off these attacks and were able to maintain the bills original intent.

Finally, CWA actively opposed two judicial nominations: Jesse Matthew Furman and Andrew David Hurwitz. Despite our best efforts, Furman was confirmed by a vote of 62-34 to be the United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York. Furman is prejudiced against Christianity; he has sought to ban Christian organizations from public school property outside school hours, even when the use was clearly not school sponsored. Further, he has characterized Christianity as intolerant.Hurwitzs nomination to the United States Ninth Circuit is still pending in the Senate. CWA has opposed this nomination based on his history in interpreting Roe v. Wade and his disregard for the Constitution and our founding principles.