March 31st marks the third anniversary of the death of Terri Schindler Schiavo. I would feel remiss in not alerting our readers to the excellent Washington Times op-ed on her case by Nat Hentoff published today. As Mr. Hentoff points out:
The reason Congress asked the federal courts to review the Schiavo case was that the 41-year-old woman about to be dehydrated and starved to death was breathing normally on her own and was not terminal.
This was not a right-to-die case, as the author notes. Rather, it was about the right to continue living.
In an interview with Medill News Service that was posted on the Internet last week, I discussed FRCs opposition to an immigration bill that would allow foreign nationals who are the same-sex partners of American citizens to immigrate to the United States on the same basis as foreign spouses of American citizens. FRC does not believe that homosexual relationships are the equivalent of marriage, and we therefore oppose any legislation that would treat such relationships as the equivalent of marriage.
In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.
Today’s Washington Times contains a “must read” op-ed. Professors Gerald R. McDermott (Roanoke College) and Carol M. Swain (Vanderbilt) give a well-developed argument for defunding Planned Parenthood based on “disturbing realities” about the way that organization conducts its business.
Here is their concluding paragraph: “One must wonder, then, whether taxpayers should continue to support an organization that is flush with money, has been willing to skirt or ignore laws intended to protect the people it claims to serve and may be targeting minorities with a practice many Americans believe immoral.”
Also, much praise to the Washington Times editorial page for publishing this excellent piece.
The recent firing of a California librarian provides a dramatic example of how political correctness can turn both morality and common sense on its head. What did Brenda Biesterfeld do that cost her her job? When she saw a patron at the public library where she worked in Lindsay viewing illegal child pornography on a library computer, she did what any good citizen should doshe reported it to the police. They arrested him, and found more child porn on his home computer as well. But Biesterfelds reward for her good deed was a termination notice.
On Friday, March 14th, Secretary Michael Leavitt (Dep’t of Health & Human Services) issued an important press release announcing his letter to Dr. Norman F. Grant, the Executive Director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG). In his letter, Secretary Leavitt stated his justifiable concern that ABOG’s Bulletin for 2008 Maintenance of Certification could require physicians to refer patients for abortions against the dictates of conscience. Such outcomes might arise from the “interaction” of that ABOG Bulletin and a “report” of the ethics committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (dated Nov. 7, 2007) entitled “The Limits of Conscience Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.
Secretary Leavitt took note of federal laws intended to “protect the rights, including conscience rights, of health care professionals in programs or facilities conducted or supported by federal funds.” He asked ABOG to clarify its position “[i]n the hope that compliance of entities with the obligations that accompany certain federal funds will not be jeopardized….”
As Secretary Leavitt and the public await ABOG’s answer, the Secretary should be commended greatly for his efforts on behalf of those health care professionals who do not wish to refer patients for abortions or act in other ways that would undermine their commitment to the ethical provision of medical services. In case it is not clear, implementation of the projected ABOG-ACOG policy denying licensing or re-licensing to doctors unwilling to refer for abortions could eliminate pro-life obstetricians and gynecologists from the practice of medicine in the United States. This is unacceptable.
Taken together, these findings represent a simmering STD epidemic among our young people and a tremendous negligence in care for girls most at risk for contracting STDs. The call for an effective public health prevention strategy could not be more urgent. The current contraceptive-based education approach offered in 75 percent of U.S. schools not only relies on an overly narrow focus on physical health that is spurring an epidemic, but it also completely ignores the emotional consequences of premarital sex. Abstinence education is increasingly providing an efficacious and holistic approach to protect our young people’s current and future health.
While the proponents of comprehensive or contraceptive-based sex education and much of the medical and public health community continue to pay lip service to prevention for our young people, these CDC results offer fresh evidence that the focus is on facilitating high-risk behavior rather than true primary and even secondary prevention. The risk-avoidance or sexual abstinence-until-marriage strategy must be adopted to help reverse the STD epidemic. It’s an evidence-based approach with proven results for reversing the HIV/AIDS trends in several African countries—let’s give it a chance in this country.
A great deal has happened since my Friday posting on the California home school decision — In re Rachel L.First, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a press release on Friday striking out at the court decision:
“Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide whats best for their children. Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their childrens education. This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts dont protect parents rights then, as elected officials, we will.”
This opens the possibility that political action, in addition to legal appeals, may lie ahead. However, proponents of home schooling in California are wary of a legislative option because a new law might codify a set of parent-school relationships that are less friendly than those in place before the court decision. Given the liberal composition of the California legislature, that is a justifiable concern.
Second, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has taken a step to nullify the decision. While the Rachel L. family and its California counsel plan to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, HSLDA has also posted a petition online collecting the signatures of those who would like the Court to “depublish” the opinion. HSLDA plans to formally ask the Court to depublish the Rachel L. opinion which would render it unusable “by other California courts” and eliminate the decision as a threat to other homeschoolers. By gathering signatures, HSLDA would like to demonstrate to the Court “that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.” Depublishing would be a simple way to alleviate this crisis.
Third, Eugene Volokh, a libertarian/conservative UCLA law professor and blogger wrote about the home schooling case on March 6th — as edited by Alliance Defense Fund:
Its pretty well-settled that the parental rights cases — such as Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) — dont secure a right to home-school … .
Religious homeschooling is a different matter. Wisconsin v. Yoder held that the Amish could pull children out of school at age 14, and then vocationally train the children at home, notwithstanding a compulsory education law that generally required school attendance until 16. And Yoder survives the Courts decision in Employment Division v. Smith (which mostly holds that the Free Exercise Clause doesnt require religious exemptions from generally applicable laws, but which expressly preserves such claims in parental rights cases like Yoder).
What appears to be the crucial California case, People v. Turner (1953), has some difficult language for the proposition that there is a constitutional right to homeschool:
…, we have been unable to find a single case in which it has been held that so-called compulsory attendance statutes are rendered unconstitutional and void merely by reason of a failure to recognize home instruction as an alternative to attendance in the public schools.
Well, only one thing is certain — we are destined to hear a great deal more about this case and the related legal arguments. A great deal has changed in California since 1953, and the Court would be wise to accommodate the educational arrangements that now exist for something like 200,000 students.
Last week Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on a bill that would require the state’s pro-life pregnancy resource centers (PRCs), or crisis pregnancy centers, to post a disclaimer about their services. SB 690 would force pregnancy resource centers to tell women who contact them that the centers are “not required to provide factually accurate information to clients.”
Representatives from NARAL, who lobbied for the bill, cited a recent report conducted by young women who visited pregnancy centers posing as girls with unplanned pregnancies. In reality, the report was a weak attempt to disgrace the good work of PRCs. Senators were quick to question its validity based on its small numbers, and due to the fact that no real clients had been interviewed for feedback.
FRC’s Director of Women’s and Reproductive Health, Moira Gaul, testified on the negative impact the bill would have on women’s health. In particular, she elaborated on how it would undermine the effectiveness in linking women to vital community, healthcare, and support services. Attorneys from the Thomas More Society, Care Net, and others spoke against the bill, citing its unconstitutionality and stating that it would never hold up in court of law. Scores of pregnancy center personnel also testified, including registered nurses, licensed social workers, medical doctors, and licensed psychologists to show that it would violate their professional ethics to provide factually inaccurate information to clients.
In total, over 45 people came to testify against the bill. NARAL’s weak attempt to devalue the amazing services PRCs provide was clearly evident as the professionalism, compassion and care of PRC workers shined throughout the lengthy hearing.